Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Is There a Russian Conscience? A European?
Townhall.com ^ | July 22, 2014 | Dennis Prager

Posted on 07/22/2014 8:35:17 AM PDT by Kaslin

When I was a graduate student at Columbia University's Russian Institute, there was a great debate: Was the communist Soviet Union an organic Russian development or was it largely a cancer imposed on it?

Those who held the organic view argued that the change from czar to commissar was only one of degree. Both were tyrannies, the latter more tyrannical than the former.

I agreed with the second view, that communism was something radically new, not a logical, let alone inevitable, Russian path. The czars were autocrats, not genocidal totalitarians.

I have to admit that in recent years, I have wondered whether the first view was right after all.

First, Vladimir Putin suppresses -- sometimes violently -- virtually all dissent in Russia; and most Russians are apparently entirely comfortable with it. Not just comfortable -- supportive.

Second, there is widespread nostalgia among Russian citizens for Stalin. One has to wonder if there is any other example of a large body of people pining for a leader who murdered tens of millions of their own people.

Third, there is increasingly little difference between the Russian media and the Soviet media. Both were/are saturated with lies. Anne Applebaum, foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Post, reports that: "Russia's state-controlled mass media ... still constantly denigrate Ukraine and its 'Nazi' government. Just in the past week, Russian reporting on Ukraine reached a new pitch of hysteria, with fake stories about the supposed crucifixion of a child and an extraordinary documentary comparing the Ukrainian army's defense of its own country with the Rwandan genocide."

Fourth, to the widespread acclaim of the Russian people, Putin annexed part of Ukraine, and is using Russian Ukrainians to violently annex more. All evidence points to these people -- supplied with Russian arms including the Russian SA-11 antiaircraft missile -- as the murderers who shot down a civilian airliner with 298 people on board.

Again, the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum: "This plane crash is a result of the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, an operation deliberately designed to create legal, political and military chaos. Without this chaos, a surface-to-air missile would not have been fired at a passenger plane.

"Into this ambiguous and unstable situation, the Russians cynically funneled a stream of heavy weapons: machine guns and artillery and, eventually, tanks, armed personnel carriers and anti-aircraft missiles. In recent days, the separatist forces were openly using man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and boasting of having taken down large Ukrainian transport planes, clearly with Russian specialist assistance. ...

"This is the context within which a surface-to-air missile was aimed at a passenger plane: a lawless environment ... a nihilistic disregard for human life; scorn for international norms, rules or standards."

And most relevant to our assessment of the Russian conscience, Applebaum concludes: "So far there is no sign of shock or shame in Russia."

Of course, today, as in Czarist Russia and in the communist Soviet Union, there are Russians of extraordinary moral courage. I worked with and for Soviet dissidents during the Cold War, and if there was a finer person on earth than Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet scientist who gave up fame and fortune to fight the immorality of the Soviet regime, I don't know who that person was.

But, for reasons outlined above, I now incline toward the dark view of the Russian conscience.

The bigger question is whether Europe has enough of a conscience to act.

If Europe doesn't muster the courage to confront Putin's Russia after hundreds of Europeans are blown out of the sky -- including 192 from the Netherlands alone -- there is truly little left of Europe's moral spine. Economic considerations will have trumped not only morality, but even empathy for one's own.

And is America far behind? Having been influenced for at least two generations by European values much more than by traditional American and Judeo-Christian values, America, too, is being tested. If all we will hear from this president are calls for "impartial investigations" and promises to "bring those responsible to justice," we can conclude that the American conscience -- at least as embodied by this president and his supporters -- is, to say the least, not what it was.

On the other hand, there is a nation whose actions -- protecting itself against genocidal fanatics -- are stirring the much of the world's conscience: Israel. Reassuring, no?


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Russia
KEYWORDS: g42; kremlinology; russianthugs; vladimirputin

1 posted on 07/22/2014 8:35:17 AM PDT by Kaslin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Not unlike the questions being asked about 1938 Germany. Answera came the next year.


2 posted on 07/22/2014 8:38:21 AM PDT by Mike Darancette (Do The Math)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Oh you know, conscience is so old fashioned. Keeps people from doing what they wanna do. /sarc


3 posted on 07/22/2014 8:40:49 AM PDT by dforest
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

The answer to the question appears to be a resounding “NO”!

In light of the recent Malaysia Airlines tragedies (one missing, one brought down by the Russians) I completed a project I began some time ago to remind us of an earlier Russian involved murder of hundreds of innocents. Will someone please remind obozo that it’s still a jungle out there!
(It’s a short 8 minutes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTgCIrUeuh0&list=UUFDlhK80EdO28R-iGTXiGaw


4 posted on 07/22/2014 8:44:29 AM PDT by Dick Bachert (Ignorance is NOT BLISS. It is the ROAD TO SERFDOM! We're on a ROAD TRIP!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

When I was younger, I dated a couple of Russian guys (not at the same time, of course) and it was enough to convince me that they are very scary people.


5 posted on 07/22/2014 8:44:31 AM PDT by A_perfect_lady
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

When I was in Odessa last year a couple of Ukrainians I talked to said that Russians are barbarians.


6 posted on 07/22/2014 8:45:36 AM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not really out to get you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Paleo Conservative
As far as I can tell, that opinion is shared by every neighboring people who have suffered centuries of depredation at Russian hands.

I'm not just talking about the inevitable consequences of military aggression, but wanton acts of theft and destruction, such as the seizure of the books and paintings from the public library in Warsaw after the Third Partition of Poland (the first public library in Europe) and their transport to the Hermitage.

Murder, theft, and rape have all been official instruments of Russian public policy for centuries.

7 posted on 07/22/2014 8:57:01 AM PDT by pierrem15 (Claudius: "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: A_perfect_lady

Really? Please share some of your stories!


8 posted on 07/22/2014 9:07:18 AM PDT by MNDude
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

“Fourth, to the widespread acclaim of the Russian people, Putin annexed part of Ukraine”

A part of Ukraine that had been Russian for hundreds of years, 10 times longer than it had been part of Ukraine.
That was only made part of Ukraine by a fluke of shifting an internal border of the USSR.
A part of Ukraine with a majority Russian populace, that already had special autonomy and that voted to join Russia...

Where is Dennis Praeger’s conscience for the right of people for self determination?

The USA supported a separatist movement in the nation of Serbia. They bombed the hell out of Serbia for 78 days, destroying 40,000 homes — and forced them to give up their province of Kosovo.
This is what the USA thinks of national sovereignty, and the precedent it has set for the world.

“All evidence points to these people — supplied with Russian arms including the Russian SA-11 antiaircraft missile — as the murderers who shot down a civilian airliner with 298 people on board. “

Praeger writes as if the shooting down of a passenger plane was intentional. But strong evidence suggests otherwise.
Is it really sensible to describe an accident as murder?

Ukraine accidentally shot down a passenger plane in 2001. Was that murder?

The US Navy accidentally shot down a passenger plane in 1988, was that murder?

Why should the separatists face stronger punishment than in these cases, when the commercial airliner directly overflew a warzone where planes had recently been shot down?

The warzone in Donetsk/Luhansk is a tiny portion of Ukraine. It would have been easy and common sense to route around it.

When Ukraine decided to raise the no-go ceiling to 31,000 feet instead of routing traffic around the small warzone, was that murder?


9 posted on 07/22/2014 9:20:35 AM PDT by Mount Athos (A Giant luxury mega-mansion for Gore, a Government Green EcoShack made of poo for you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I don’t think loosely aligned groups of people (like nations) have a conscience. Tightly aligned groups of people (small PACs, churches) are generally aligned around a conscience. But loose groups are really just mobs. Then you get back to the old Men In Black maxim: a person is smart (has a conscience), people are dumb (don’t).


10 posted on 07/22/2014 9:23:33 AM PDT by discostu (Villains always blink their eyes.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
A European conscience? Gee, that's a tough one.


11 posted on 07/22/2014 9:24:47 AM PDT by Hoodat (Article 4, Section 4)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

No.


12 posted on 07/22/2014 9:46:44 AM PDT by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson ONLINEhttp://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Russia has NEVER known FREEDOM... ever,,
They have always had despots in power over them..
They know of NOTHING ELSE...

Same with China.. having despots in power is NORMAL to them..
Freedom would be strange to them.. uncomfortable..

Slowly it’s become reality in the United States as well..
LACK of freedom is becoming more comfortable to Americans..

ELSE.. Obama would be hanging from a tree.. somewhere..


13 posted on 07/22/2014 9:54:05 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mount Athos

The Navy wasn’t just looking for a commercial airliner to shoot down from 33,000 feet for no reason, there is no comparison to what Russia did, and is doing here.

But thanks for thinking of the U.S. military and President Reagan when you want to prop up Russian aggression.


14 posted on 07/22/2014 11:41:34 AM PDT by ansel12 (LEGAL immigrants, 30 million 1980-2012, continues to remake the nation's electorate for democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

It’s a perfect comparison.

Both were accidental downings of a passenger plane in a warzone.

Both were misidentification.

The USA thought the passenger plane was an attacking tomcat fighter. 290 people on the passenger plane died, including 66 children.


15 posted on 07/22/2014 12:55:01 PM PDT by Mount Athos (A Giant luxury mega-mansion for Gore, a Government Green EcoShack made of poo for you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Mount Athos

Not perfect at all, the Russian invaders shot down a passenger plane from 33,000 feet for no reason.

This is so shocking because it came totally out of the blue, not because it was a tragic mistake made in the heat of combat, this has no excuse or legitimate reason for there even being such a threat possible.


16 posted on 07/22/2014 1:06:11 PM PDT by ansel12 (LEGAL immigrants, 30 million 1980-2012, continues to remake the nation's electorate for democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

You know who’s killing all the Ukrainian civilians? The Ukrainian government. All they ever wanted was to be free.


17 posted on 07/22/2014 1:13:59 PM PDT by McGruff (There are none so blind as those who will not see)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

What threat did the USA face from the passenger plane it shot down in 1988?

What threat did Ukraine face from the passenger plane it mistakenly shot down in 2001?

The comparison is perfectly valid.
All 3 were mistakes.

In the case of the the Malaysian flight, it would have been easy and common sense to route around the small war zone.

Some of the Malaysian flight crew protested the route beforehand, some even switched shifts specifically to avoid it. Most Airlines avoided the small Ukraine warzone by policy.

Why? Because not directly overflying a warzone is common sense.


18 posted on 07/22/2014 1:22:07 PM PDT by Mount Athos (A Giant luxury mega-mansion for Gore, a Government Green EcoShack made of poo for you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Mount Athos

The Vincennes had just been engaged in combat and thought they were under attack from a fighter plane that was close and coming at them.

The Russian invaders were just shooting at something at 33,000 feet that had nothing to do with them.

You can look at the arguments for the U.S. military’s mistake 30 years ago but what are your reasons for justifying this situation that happened this past week, and why are you so desperate to find some way to justify it anyway?

Why don’t you just go straight to your anti-West, Pro-Russia arguments?


19 posted on 07/22/2014 2:00:51 PM PDT by ansel12 (LEGAL immigrants, 30 million 1980-2012, continues to remake the nation's electorate for democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Mount Athos

Let me guess, you are Orthodox, so of course you feel the need to side with with the KGB guy over America and the West.


20 posted on 07/22/2014 2:05:40 PM PDT by ansel12 (LEGAL immigrants, 30 million 1980-2012, continues to remake the nation's electorate for democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

There is nothing that needs justifying.

It obviously was a mistake. There is motive that makes sense, it wouldn’t benefit them in any way.

Just like with the USA in 1988, or Ukraine in 2001.

Your insults about Orthodox Christians are a disgrace to you, you should be ashamed if you have any decency.


21 posted on 07/22/2014 2:10:20 PM PDT by Mount Athos (A Giant luxury mega-mansion for Gore, a Government Green EcoShack made of poo for you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Mount Athos

It seems to be your identity with the Orthodox religion that leads you to support our enemy in Russia.

What you can’t explain, is how this “mistake” could have happened at all, what explains the attack?

You keep comparing this weird, out of the blue, for no reason, shooting down of a passenger plane at 33,000 feet with something 30 years ago that has nothing to do with it and no similarity.

No wonder you guys in Russia are such horrible people and a constant threat to your neighbors, and so hostile to non-Orthodox Christians.


22 posted on 07/22/2014 2:17:15 PM PDT by ansel12 (LEGAL immigrants, 30 million 1980-2012, continues to remake the nation's electorate for democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

I made a mistake in giving you the benefit of the doubt in these conversations.

It’s clear you don’t deserve it at all.

You don’t have any decency, throwing around religion for insult. Shame on you.


23 posted on 07/22/2014 2:28:44 PM PDT by Mount Athos (A Giant luxury mega-mansion for Gore, a Government Green EcoShack made of poo for you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Mount Athos

Hey little buddy, it is you fighting for the enemy, showing your anti-Western, anti-Americanism as you promote and fight for the KGB and Mother Russia.


24 posted on 07/22/2014 2:34:44 PM PDT by ansel12 (LEGAL immigrants, 30 million 1980-2012, continues to remake the nation's electorate for democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

Do you have anything to contribute other than infantile insults and bigotry?

Grats on hijacking and derailing the thread.


25 posted on 07/22/2014 2:48:46 PM PDT by Mount Athos (A Giant luxury mega-mansion for Gore, a Government Green EcoShack made of poo for you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Russia has always been the same, they have a church, but no conscience, it is why they can never change.

Russia is rightfully known as a dark and oppressive and violent and aggressive nation, and people.


26 posted on 07/22/2014 2:51:33 PM PDT by ansel12 (LEGAL immigrants, 30 million 1980-2012, continues to remake the nation's electorate for democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson