Today, political scientist and member of the Russian legislative body Vyacheslav Nikonov said, “in reality, we embody the forces of good in the modern world because this clash is metaphysical…. We are on the side of good against the forces of absolute evil…. This is truly a holy war that we’re waging, and we have to win it and of course we will because our cause is just. We have no other choice. Our cause is not only just, our cause is righteous and victory will certainly be ours.”
I believe this is your most compelling and powerful Letter from an American to date. And I’m frightened about the future.
If CPAC in Budapest, hosted by Victor Orbán isn’t the perfect opportunity to illustrate how the current Republican party is now Putin’s party, I don’t know what is.
Pictures and videos of “American Conservatives” cuddling up to the enemies of Democracy should be spread far and wide in every available forum – solid, indisputable stuff for the 2022 election season.
Thank you for articulating the morality of democracy in such a profound way. Unfortunately, the extremists in their self-righteous zeal see themselves as aggrieved heroes fighting the forces of immortality. In fact, Yale professor Timothy Snyder's latest installment of his "Thinking About" commentary explores how Russian fascists have used Christianity as a kind of shield of innocence to justify or rationalize unspeakable acts of violence in the past and now in Ukraine.
All of it is shocking, especially given so many past unfathomable brutalities, both here at home and abroad. But there's some comfort in knowing how the enemy thinks, even if the thinking is horribly demented.
Holiness Kirill, The Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' has blessed the special military operation. Of course pious Russians must believe that “This is truly a holy war…”.
I’m surprised that it hasn’t been officially declared to be a crusade.
Evangelical TV celebrity Pat Robertson says that Putin "is being compelled by God" to invade Ukraine in preparation for a massive End Times invasion of Israel. I haven’t noticed any prominent Republicans disagreeing.
Such is the power of faith.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” -Voltaire
I really appreciate today's letter. Thank you Heather. Classical civilization on the North side of the Mediterranean was critically dependent on slavery. Much of it was quite cruel. Working in a marble quarry, feeding the fires of a hypocaust, or working to support a Roman villa was an awful existence. Thus, when the empire started to collapse, it happened with amazing speed because of the very deep seated hatred most people had for the privileged classes. Those folks had to literally run for their lives as the legions shrank and pulled back toward Italy and the Bosporus. That anyone would think that resurrecting that form of structural underpinnings for global civilization could lead to a good end is to ignore history. But while I fear the challenges that we face, I'm actually quite optimistic about them. Any system, whether it's in business, the military, or in government, that is too dependent on a vertical command structure for all that must be done, cannot adapt to the challenge of a determined and highly adaptive competitor with a more dispersed decision making model. Let's just hope that it doesn't take an exchange of nukes to make that point stick.
My heart was racing reading your letter tonight. We cannot let these criminals take us on a time warp back to the 30’s and 40’s. Nothing in our country was established for people of color, nor any immigrants. Everything achieved by them has been through literal blood, sweat, and tears to climb that ladder. Honestly, if men didn’t love sports so much, Jackie Robinson, Bobby Bonds, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Yao Ming, Tiger Woods, etc. are just examples of men who would have never come into fruition. Women like Billie Jean King, Venus and Serena Williams, Simone Biles had to fight for equal pay, deal with harassment, hounded about their sexuality, their bodies, screaming for support from a sexual predator, a doctor, who took sexual advantages of young females. This kind of thing happens on a daily basis. Look at what Russian soldiers have done to women, to babies!! We simply cannot let the so-called evangelists, the DeSatans in our world to succeed. We just CAN’T!
A powerful and frightening warning. I find it so strange that "Christians" take a position so far removed from the teachings of Christ. One of the reasons I distrust any organised religion is its tendency to believe it is the "true" religion, and therefore any others are "false".The cause now and throughout history of so much human misery.
Thank you for today's sobering post. Probably your most frightening to date.
Those who believe in a liberal democracy must wake up and realise it needs active defending
Amazing writing Heather. It strikes fear and hope in my heart in equal measure. Humanity is on the cusp of the realisation of forging the ability to develop a moral conscience. To choose love over fear. To practice the golden rule. Each person choosing first and then together, with inclusion and love to build a new heaven and a new earth. The trick of gaslighting, calling black white is the oldest in the book. War is horrendous in every way but the personal choices every one of us can make every day will turn the tide to the light in the end. Your choices have enlightened and inspired my life. It can seem hopeless to face blatant evil alone. We fight not against flesh and blood but an evil idea - that ME is better and more worthy than WE. Your letters show us we are not alone. Many, many thanks ❤️ May a benevolent force protect us all in the days ahead.
What can be said except that this Letter has to rank among your very best, perhaps topping them all. Well done.
I see that numerous others have written exactly what I was going to say about the importance and power of today's Letter. Amen.
I find it almost impossible to recall that only twelve years ago we celebrated Obama's election(s).
As we celebrated, "the others" saw a biracial man in the White House as proof positive of the beginning of (their) end.....and look what has happened since.
"They" are wicked smart, fully committed to their "cause," relentless, unafraid to fight bare-knuckles (or worse), and, in so many cases, armed.
In addition to reading your Letter - first, as always - I also read Robert Hubbell's brilliant morning offering. It ends with the following observation (below)....and between the two of you (Bless you both), I fear I keep hearing the old Buffalo Springfield line about "battle lines being drawn." Like you say, Heather, "history rhymes."
"The work of freeing other people (and ourselves) from bigotry, enslavement, injustice, and oppression is a struggle that has been going on for millennia. Our job is to continue the battle for one generation—and teach the next generation that it must do the same."
Again, Amen.....which I was taught years ago means (among other things), "so be it."
If only all our human energy could be put to good use, instead of all the tragic repeating "evil seed" BS.
We are a very, very slowly evolving species.
The absurd Russian contention, regarding the Ukraine, that “we are on the side of good against forces of absolute evil…This is truly a holy war” is definitively refuted in Anne Applebaum’s The Atlantic article UNLESS DEMOCRACIES DEFEND THEMSELVES, THE FORCES OF AUTOCRACY WILL DESTROY THEM. Her historical highlights and chilling conclusions I find spot on.
Her opening points:
1) In February, 1994, Estonian President Lennart Meri spoke in Hamburg, Germany. He stated:
A) Russia was returning to the language of imperialism—primes inter pares (the first among equals) in the former Soviet empire;
B) Meri said that the West should “make it emphatically clear to the Russian leadership that another imperialist expansion will not stand a chance;”
C) At that point, the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin, got up and walked out.
Applebaum then chronicles how the West enabled this ‘Russian imperialist expansion’ for nearly twenty years, until President Biden, NATO, and European Union countries finally riposted forcefully to Putin’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
This must have been so disturbing and discouraging to write, knowing history and the process and the losses since the beginning of the United States of America. “In 1776, the nation’s Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all people “are created equal…[and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….” They asserted that governments are legitimate only if those they govern consent to them.” Dictators and Fascists and those who blindly follow are paving the road to no return. So here’s a connection I see:
Author Isabel Wilkerson writes in “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” about systems that oppress, exclude and punish those who do not belong to a specific group. Racism, antisemitism, inequality, violence are at the foundation of these systems. And where is/was one of the Caste systems that Germany researched to create their own violent social stratification? Right here in USA! American Slavery is one of the systems she explores along with Nazi Germany and India. And they observed the Jim Crow period and continuing inequality of people of color in the post slavery era. It’s not a leap to see the direction many countries including here in America are headed with their dismantling of laws of equality, often using distorted religious and moral “laws” as their guides. We have been witnessing this for too long and now our courts and the GOP are infiltrated with those who believe that they are saving their country. Or they know what they’re doing and are embracing dictatorship and fascism for their own gains and power. https://www.randomhousebooks.com/books/653196/
Hello everyone. I am back from my trip--and with covid. Sigh. person sitting next to me on the way home was sneezing all over us. I should have requested a move but didn't, relying on a number of negative tests results and assuming the mask I was wearing would do the trick. It didn't. I had a wonderful trip, but the system in Europe is now that everyone is basically on his or her own when it comes to staying healthy. I see this as a metaphor. They are not aggressively anti-information when it comes to covid; they are not as insane as our radical would-be fascists who originally envisioned covid as a way of getting rid of "undesirables": BIPOC, Democrats, etc. But the governments of Europe are now deeply into a recovery mode that requires having blinders on when it comes to all kinds of things. This is why the uncomfortable "truths" President Macron of France is telling (he is mediocre at best, but there's not been a visionary leader in France for a long time who isn't a proto-fascist) are meeting with rejection in favor of the world-turned-upside-down rhetoric of Le Pen--who claims her campaign is about returning France to a world of "social justice." Gaslighting is the order of the day. In politics as well as in public health.
Which leads me to this: Any kind of government or legal system that is inclusive (such as democracy or republicanism) is also awkward and uncomfortable and requires constant care and feeding to be successful. It also relies overwhelmingly on the "kindness of strangers." Autocracy is easy-peasy. It doesn't require people to think, to learn, to cooperate, to change, to grow, to question themselves. Most people hate doing those things. So when someone comes along and says "I will take care of all of that for you," a lot of people say "that sounds good to me." I could provide a convenient example from medieval history, but this is already a long post.
On this day of celebration for Christians, Jews and Muslims, I'm wondering what is happening to the idea of religious freedom in the United States? What is happening to the tenet of Separation of Church and State? And, didn't the Soviet Union discourage the practice of any religion? I gather Russia is largely Russian Orthodox again. If we really stand by the Declaration of Independence the unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness I would advocate that we need to measure our progress with a Well Being Index which benefits all replacing the GNP which primarily benefits the rich. We don't have a trickle down economy; we have all the cream rising to the top economy. I'm hoping that the real America is filled with honest sane empathetic people who know that democracy is essential rather than the distorted picture we get from the media over and over again. When they say 80% of Republicans think such and so it sounds overwhelming. But when you realize Republicans are about 25% or so of the population that means just 20% of the population believes such and so. The largest "party" is now the Independents with around 40% of the population. I don't buy that you can grouped Independents as R-leaning or D-leaning any more. The parties have gotten too extreme and the vast middle needs to organize and speak up! Enough for tonight. I'm thankful I've gotten to live in the second half of the last century when we were making such progress with our rights and self-determination. I wonder if technology is going to be the biggest factor in what the rest of this century will look like. What if we had artificial wombs that could carry a fetus to term so a woman doesn't have to carry a fetus for nine months? Abortion would no longer be a issue in that world. What if/when artificial intelligence becomes sentient and evolves at the speed of a generation every year or two? Do humans with their limited intelligence become the pets of the sentient AI or do we have mixed races of cyborgs half human and half machine? Wonder what their religion will be like. We the People, all of us this time.
See, Alexandra Alter's NYT 4/16/22 article on Russian writer Vladimir Sorokin , "He [Sorokin] Envisioned a Nightmarish, Dystopian Russia; Now He Fears Living in One". Sorokin March 2022 quote: '"A Russian writer has two (2) options. Either you are Afraid or you write, I Write". Sorokin left Russia for Berlin 3 Days before the Putin's genocide began against the Ukranian people what Sorokin calls 'killing your own mother.'
During every armed conflict it's always a matter of time before an aggressor trots out their professors and religous leaders to declare that "God is with us!" Usually this follows shortly after the rest of the world finds out about the war-crimes, torture, and the disturbingly large death toll resulting from their bungled/illegal military operations. They're trying to reassure the home front that their glorious Leaders haven't failed, and that they're nobly fighting a savage and immoral enemy to defend our homes, hearths and sacred traditions.
If any of this seems familiar, it's because they do it every time. There's always a percentage who wanted to believe and they'll readily buy into the jive. It's comforting. Double-think is always easier to live with when the lies you hear are the ones you wanted to hear.