by Rick Rozoff (3-27-00)
[Note - the following is excerpted from a most thought-provoking email note that Mr. Rozoff sent to friends on the Internet. ]
I've hesitated to weigh in on this issue for fear that my ethnic background might leave me open to the suspicion of "special pleading." But this issue has to be met head on.
To someone outside of Europe or not of European ancestry, all Europeans must appear homogeneous. Similarly, Europeans and North Americans are often shocked when they learn of the extensive ethnic and cultural diversity that obtains in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as those areas are presented in the West as stereotyped and monolithic. In fact Europe is and has always been divided in a number of ways: Language groups, different branches of Christianity, social class, ethnic pluralism within nations, with certain groups historically disadvantaged (Celts, Basques, Romany, etc.), and - perhaps most demonstrably - by geographic divide. North vs. South and West vs. East are the major cleavages.
Anti-Slavic prejudice - more properly, racism - is a dirty secret in European history.
It reached its most monstrous level of refinement with Hitler, who both 'scientifically' codified and savagely implemented this prevailing view of Slavs as Untermenschen - subhumans. Fifty million human beings lost their lives in World War Two, the majority of them Slavs. Estimates of Soviet dead, which include Jews, Roma and other non-Slav minorities, but which were overwhelmingly Slavic, range as high as thirty million. Additionally, millions of Serbs, Poles and other Slavs were killed in battle or along with Jews and others in death camps.
Every action has its rationale and every policy its doctrine. Had anti-Slavic (and related anti-Eastern - that is, anti-Romanian, Greek, etc.) bigotry not been allowed to simmer in Europe for centuries, it wouldn't have been as easy to exterminate tens of millions of Eastern Europeans as it was for the Third Reich.
A resumption, an hysterical revival, of this racism has been dredged up since the beginning of the break up of Yugoslavia in 1991. Often the pronouncements of Western government and media spokespeople are a barely disguised recycling of Nazi race propaganda from the 1930s and 40s. As one British journalist put it a few months ago, this campaign of collective dehumanization (another trick infamously practiced by Hitler, Rosenberg, Goebbels and company) has led to the word Slav being synonymous with criminal. Or subhuman. Or inherently (read: racially) inferior, lazy, dishonest, violent people who deserve all the misery, disease, bombing and eventual physical elimination NATO and IMF/World Bank policies have brought on them.
When the life expectancy of a Russian male (one current estimate is 56 years) is lower than that in most 'official' Third World countries; when Romanians, Bulgarians and others are eating out of garbage cans and sleeping in sewers; when 1.2 million ethnic Serbs are driven out of their homes and living destitute in Serbia proper, constituting the largest mass scale refugee crisis in Europe since World War II and its aftermath; when all this is occurring and nobody in the West says ANYTHING about it, except to callously and contemptuously blame the victims - it's time for all people of good will to oppose the ethnopsychological (that is, racist) and other propaganda devices use to perpetrate and excuse this travesty.
It's not a matter of contrasting one group's tragedy with another's, but of learning from many experiences to recognize a current catastrophe. The Roman poet Virgil has a line that says, "Taught by misfortune, I pity the suffering." United by our horror at past acts of racial stereotyping and persecution, we can condemn it whenever it occurs.
One point of information. The D-Day invasion didn't occur until Spring of 1944. By that time the Soviet Union and numerous Eastern European partisan groups (Serbian, Greek and others) had been holding off and driving out the overwhelming bulk of Axis troops for over two and a half years. They, more than anyone else, saved the world from fascism. They deserve far more consideration and gratitude than they've ever received from the Western nations who, with the exception of Britain in Europe, didn't even put up a decent fight against Hitler.
PS - Here's an article from Agence France Presse which gives a small sense of the destruction of Russia in the past ten years under the guise of liberalism and democracy.
Russia Sees Sharpest Drop In
Population Since 1992
Russia saw its sharpest decline in population since 1992 last year, with the number of inhabitants falling by 784,500 or 0.5 percent, according to official figures cited Monday by the Interfax agency.
The latest figures compiled by the State Statistical Committee (SSC) showed that the Russian population has shrunk by 2.8 million, or almost two percent, in the past eight years. The SSC estimated that the country's population on January 1, 2000 was 145.5 million, with 1,215,800 births being registered over the previous 12 months (compared with 1,283,300 in 1998), and 2,140,300 deaths (1,988,700 in 1998). The total number of immigrants to Russia in 1999 was 379,700 (compared with 513,500 in 1998), while the number of people who emigrated from Russia was marginally higher at 214,900 than the previous year's 213,300 figure.
Experts attribute the falling population to a crisis in public health and widespread alcoholism, which has led to the mortality rate outstripping the birth rate by a factor of 1.5. "Russia is on the verge of a population catastrophe due to its low birth rate," Valentin Pokrovsky, director of the Academy of Medicine, warned in January. (Agence France Presse)