George Cassidy Payne is a domestic violence counselor, Niagara County Community College adjunct professor of philosophy, founder of the Lower Falls Foundation, and free lance writer. George lives and works in Rochester.
Putin Does Not Represent Russia
I think it is crucial to separate the leadership tactics of Vladimir Putin from the people of Russia. Putin is a mobster, grafter, nationalist, and authoritarian cold warrior. His snooping and corruption is not indicative of the Russian people, nor has it ever been.
Historically, Russia is Tolstoy and ballet; space missions and classical music; WWII and Olympic hockey. Russia is a highly educated society that possesses a rich and noble cultural heritage. She has unique nature preserves, marvelous churches, and 15 cities with populations over 1 million.
The list of famous artists, sculptors, writers, and actors, not to mention outstanding Russian athletes, is seemingly endless. Where would the world of literature be without the masterpieces of Dostoevsky? Where would the world of ballet be without the genius of Tchaikovsky? What about the stage without the works of Chekhov? The same question can be asked about art without Chagall, poetry without Turgenev, and cinema without Esenstein.
The contributions to the world of science have been equally prolific. The first to discover the Law of Conservation was Lomonosov. The inventor of the first photo-electrical element was Alexander Stoletov. The founder of field surgery was Nikolay Pirogov. The Nobel Prize winning founder of physiology was Ivan Pavlov. The greatest woman mathematician of her generation was undoubtedly Sofia Kovalevskaya.
Without Russia, the world would not have icon painting and War and Peace, or the literary theories of Nabokov and super advanced rocket technology.
To ignorantly equate Russia, which is an ambitious, immense, mysterious, powerful, honor bound nation with a man of Putin’s minor stature is not only misinformed but insulting to the greatness of this nation. If Putin was an American, he would be a cross between Al Capone, Richard Nixon, and John Wayne. In contrast, Russia is a vast, immaculate, and infinitely creative place of the human imagination. Putin is a murderous dictator with no dreams of innocence left to explore. Russia is one of the world’s largest economies (1.3 trillion GDP). Putin is one of the world’s most notorious thieves. Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. As has been shown in Chechnya, Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, and elsewhere, Putin is an existential threat to international peace. Russia is the largest producer of oats and barley in the world. Putin’s greed means that millions in his oil rich nation must needlessly starve. Russia has the largest forests in the world, the largest unfrozen fresh water reserves, the largest natural gas reserves, and the largest total length of electrified railways. Yet Putin insists on squandering his nation’s abundance on military buildups and invasions, cyber warfare, and organized crime. Russia is the largest producer of diamonds in the world. Putin treats his treasury like a pawn shop. I could go on.
What is not being talked about in the media, is that Americans can be against Putin and for Russia. Americans can investigate meddling in elections and also give the Russian people the benefit of the doubt. (After all, our government is doing some pretty nefarious things in other countries that most citizens do not know about.) What needs to be talked about more, is that Americans-including our president- can reject the violent and selfish policies of Putin while standing firm and resolute with the people he purports to rule.
As reported by the Democrat and Chronicle, in January 2017, the Sister City Russian Flag (Novgorod, Russia) was taken down in an act of semi-vandalism. The vandals left no explanation. Unfortunately, they chose to target the Sister Cities program in making an apparent political statement.
NOTE: the article was also published by the Havana Times: Putin Does Not Represent Russia – Havana Times.org