Encouraging hatred toward the average Russian, as a result of Putin’s actions in Ukraine, is fundamentally wrong. Ronald Reagan would not accept that idea, not to justify ending the Ukraine conflict or to promote Leftism in the West – and neither should Americans. Most Russians – across 11 time zones – are conservative, valuing family, faith, and freedom. They do not hate Americans, but question Leftism.
Recently, liberal Washington think tanks and mainstream media, including the Wall Street Journal (sadly), have fallen into a “mind trap,” the idea that Russia’s historic, faith-based, culturally rich conservatism is bad, because it is being used – this much is true – by an autocratic leader to serve immoral ends.
Vital is American understanding of the difference between a good people and a bad leader, between positive cultural roots and ignoble, wrong-headed use of those roots to justify bad acts. This is true for us and true for the rest of the world – Biden is not America, and Putin is not Russia.
Put differently, media that knowingly connect unrelated dots, that knowingly condemn another nation’s conservative culture because it is a convenient way to down a misguided leader are wrong.
Thus, China’s state-run media is fundamentally wrong to dismiss America’s strength and commitment to freedom based on our current president’s misstatements, mischaracterization of our own history, projected weakness, or condemnation of values held by half the nation.
In the same way, American media – and political leaders – are wrong to condemn the Russian people’s strongly-held and culturally consistent conservatism, just because Putin wants to use it as a political wedge, a way to foment anti-Western feeling, promote a different view of Russia, or justify his war.
The truth is that “leftism” – intent on tearing things down in the name of class warfare, power consolidation, and international conflict – is practiced at some things. It derides tradition, rewrites history, blurs what it does not like, and undermines timeless values – family, free markets, free speech, faith, and freedom from government overreach. It disparages what has objectively advanced humanity.
So, here is the point: Mr. Putin is a bad egg, a former Soviet spy turned autocrat, longing for power his Soviet crowd once had, long gone. That is a fact. But just as important, the Russian people are – by and large – a conservative population, centered on faith, family, and post-Soviet freedoms.
For the Western media – or any American – to conflate those two realities, is to embrace a fundamental misunderstanding. For Western media – or political leaders – to condemn the Russian people, their historical roots, religiously based and authentic conservatism, as if a creation of Putin, is more than unfair. It is counter-productive, a false narrative, and creates divisions that do not exist.
What the Left wants is American rejection of the Russian people’s fundamental conservatism, which goes back 1000 years – since that promotes the Left’s larger agenda, which is anti-conservative.
What the Left wants is a deliberate blurring of the lines, using Putin’s Ukraine conflict and talk of Russian conservatism as a wedge, a way to get Americans to reject conservative values as we reject the Ukraine war. They want the West to imagine Putin’s bad acts are somehow justified by Russian conservatism.
They are not, never have been, and are actually in direct conflict with one another. No time is better for remembering this – understanding it – than at Christmas. The average rural Russian, like the average rural American, is a straight-forward, family-centered Christian. In Russia, the brand of Christianity seeded 1000 years ago is Orthodox Christianity, one of many types practiced in America.
Christians do not – as a matter of principle – embrace immorality, killing of innocents, war for the sake of war, or any other pretext for autocratic, anti-moral action. They do not here and do not in Russia. As in America, no celebrations are more important to Russians – than Christmas (Nativity) and Easter (Pascha).
If we can understand this, there is great hope in the future – especially in this season. This is not a season for condemnation of conservative values, here or in Russia, but a time for common ground, to see that these two great civilizations share a common, often ignored Christmas wish – “Peace on earth, good will to man.”
Imagine, if you will for a moment, that governments are one thing, the people they govern entirely different. Sometimes the two align, other times not so much. Much of America is centered on something other than Biden; much of Russia is centered on something other than Putin.
Curiously enough, as Ronald Reagan saw decades ago, Americans and Russians are – in many ways – alike. They love and long for lives centered on family, faith, and freedom. Our job now is not to let the Left deride those values – diminish or blur their significance – here or there. Much depends on that – and much hope resides in that understanding. And with that, Merry Christmas!
Read full article here