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The West Has Found a New Scapegoat to Blame: Russia

Mainstream media and Western powers have offered up a barrage of propaganda and malevolence in the wake of the shot-down plane over Ukraine.

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Instead of calls for the diffusion of the situation, instead of even-handedness and objectivity in discussing the plane’s tragedy, Western media offered a barrage of propaganda and malevolence. The news outlets slavishly accept “the facts” that the Kiev government present, and then amplify these “facts” with the degree of unanimity that would make the Stalinist press envious. The result is a perfect a capella song where the lower, solemn voices of the liberal publications merge with the higher and more shrill ones of Fox News and tabloids. But the melody is the same. When plenty of writers (including myself) stressed that the differences between the Eastern and Western Ukraine are real, the Western corporate media unanimously denied it. When the warning of unfolding civil war were sounded they were rejected, and when the corruption of the current regime and nearsightedness of its western backers were articulated, the press ignored it. According to the current media mantra, which is but the State Department’s position, there is nothing rotten in the Kingdom of Kiev, except the aggressive meddling of Putin. Without him everything will be fine. Fine to have a bankrupt country ran by the oligarchs with their own private armies. Fine to have a violent Ukrainian parliament (Rada), where the nuances of politics are resolved through fist-fighting. Fine to have the Prime Minister of the new government resigning after two months, unable to cope with the internal struggle and collapsing economy that fails to supply its army with food and protective gear. Fine to have the Ukrainian army decimated by rebels, defecting in droves, and resenting its assigned task of killing civilians and bombing their houses.

What should be treated as the tragedy in the heart of Europe is reduced by the press and politicians to another “day in the life of the Russian dictator.” It is all Putin’s fault. Shouldn’t this ubiquitous and malicious presence behind every world problem remind us of anything? Plot of the KGB Elders, maybe? Anyone with a vague sense of history will recognize that Russia has been assigned the role of a scapegoat: the role that in the Western imagination has been traditionally played by the Jews. The Jews were different (culturally, religiously, and socially), they combined the mixture of strength and weakness (small in numbers, but powerful in the knowledge, of say, medicine or finances) – and this uncanny mixture of unfamiliarity, fear, and disdain that the Jews generated turned them into perfect scapegoats, as the brilliant French theoretician, Rene Girard, argued in his study of scapegoating.

Well, Russians can congratulate themselves. They became the designated Jews of the modern world, and the pundits of the Western press, blinded by their neo-con agenda, don’t even notice that. These journalists, some of whom are Jewish, fail to register that they are pursuing Russia with the same zeal and recklessness as numerous anti-Semitic journalists have been pursuing Jews ever since anti-Semitic publications became a part of modern media.

In fact, after 9/11 it appeared that the Muslims were edging out Russians for the role of arch- scapegoats vacated by the Jews. But for reasons that are too complex to be engaged here the Muslims have lost it to Russians. Of course, if any competition should be banned, it is this one; if this hydra of national phobia is not decapitated, it will find its victims: be it Jews, Arabs, or any other group waiting in the wings. In fact, in the eyes of the fanatics that destroyed the Twin Towers, it was Americans who were the scapegoats. One, therefore, looks in dismay at various national groups, victims of persecution themselves, who try to demonize and attack others as a way of relieving their own inner tensions.

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