A defense of diverse Russian views

By Michael Dementjevs, Guest Writer

Six months have passed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a result of military buildup on the Ukrainian border. While I am not happy with the Russian government’s decision with their military operation, I cannot ignore how Americans and other Western countries have treated Russians and Russian-Americans. 

I have always been very faithful and proud of my Russian culture. I have been actively involved in educating those who do not understand a part of the world that is completely misinterpreted, but I have noticed that as a result of recent events, there is a desire to erase any mention of Russia in general without any kind of dialogue.  

I was being interviewed for a second job, just to make a little money during the summer. Everything went smoothly; there were questions about availability, how the job works and typical things one would expect. 

Later on, the interviewer asked about my last name and where it came from. I replied, “My last name is Russian.” While the interviewer was a nice guy, he then asked, “So you support Putin?” Anger boiled in my veins, but I knew that I had to remain calm and collected. 

I hear this almost daily: That all Russians support Putin and his government. While I am not here to discuss the Russian government, what I dissent is that every Russian descendent is some kind of Putin-admirer. This specifically applies to our politicians. 

When Russia began it’s invasion, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said,  “Frankly, I think closing their embassy in the United States, kicking every Russian student out of the United States, those should all be on the table,” on CNN when it was announced that Russia began its invasion in late February. Of course, this was met with backlash. However, Swalwell still defended his position strongly. 

I looked at this statement in complete horror, not because I am a  Russian-American afraid that there will be mass deportation, but because the party that prides itself in being accepting toward immigrants is completely turning on its head toward xenophobia.  

Whatever happened to “All for One, One for All?” There are no support systems for our Russian students who feel that, because of the Russian government actions, they are the aggressors. 

At the SAC-sponsored Imagine Dragons concert, the band was singing in solidarity with Ukraine, and at the end of the song, there was a Xavier student who shouted at the top of his lungs “F*ck Russia!” in disapproval of the war. 

To the average person, this can be seen as being patriotic and calling for freedom, but to me, it was a big “Screw you, you Russian pig.” However, in the aforementioned interview, I had to restrain myself from stating my disapproval. 

Stating such an opinion about Russia, whether you agree or not, seems to be restricted where only the majority is in charge of what to say and what not to say. A civil discussion in this country is merely dead when an opinion you disagree with results in a shouting match where one would be shot down as a traitor. 

The U.S. and other countries have begun the erasure of any mention of Russia or any Russian who influenced the arts and the sciences. 

The issue I am presenting here is that removing Russian vodka or banning Russian athletes from sporting events does nothing to deter the Russian military out of Ukraine.   

We all have our personal, political or ideological leanings, but when it comes to the people of a country where the government does not represent the people, the golden rule still applies to all people. 

Everyone is frustrated with current events, but venting that frustration through hostile aggressions that undermine one’s culture will make that individual feel small along with any cultural discussion one might have to understand where a person’s identity originates.