Racism, anti-Semitism and America bashing in Russia

Before I start, ill just say that this is my general opinion on some of the attitudes I have come across more than once in Moscow and yeah, the article doesn’t come out sounding like magic sunshine and rainbows but that’s just the way it is. I’m going to break this little gem into three parts that look at attitudes towards Jews, immigrant workers and Americans, yes that’s right, Americans (think of it as a bonus which is not really good or useful in any way).

Where do I meet the people lead to my opinion forming?
Well let me start by saying that I don’t encounter hundreds of them every day or anything like that - my opinion has been formed over the course of four years. I have met and still meet a lot of great Russians but, as you can see, the title of this post is not “nice people that I have met over the years”. The majority of my adventures were happening a couple of years back when I was actively partying and clubbing a lot and meeting a wide range of people. So my sources for my opinions include the people I met in clubs, bars, on trains, taxi/car drivers I talk to, TV and just things I hear out and about in the shops or gym etc. 

On a side note, I’ve found the Russian car drivers (by this I mean unofficial taxi drivers) to be very progressive thinking and capable of disguising things like life in the Soviet Union compared with life now with balance and without too much bias.

Well, from what I can see, not a lot of Russians like Jews too much and from what I’ve read on Russian history, Russian Jews have never had it that easy, ranging from the Tsar right through the Soviet Union. Generally, I hear people refer to Jews as sneaky, that seems to be the main one and also greedy, one of the people teach once said “I don’t like Jews because their sneaky” and this was her whole reason (she also once said “I don’t like people from Voronezh because I think they are filthy” so not too much of a 'progressive thinker'). I have also heard quite often people say, he’s not Russian, he’s Jewish, even though the person was born and raised in Russia.

Sometimes I’ve heard people blame all the country’s problems on the Jews (because a number of politicians are Jewish) and the justification is simply that they don’t like Russia or they want to destroy Russia– that’s it. So how do you debate something with a person that fully believes there is some sort of world Jewish conspiracy against Russians? You don’t. You can’t bring any sense or facts to change a mind like that because the argument is illogical to begin with. 
I mean, can you imagine if someone believes that there is a 50-foot penis circling around Jupiter that has a grudge against Russia and that is using its magic penis rays to make bad things happen. How are you going to prove that Russia's problems are not a result of this ill-wishing space phallus? You can’t so save yourself the stress.

The verdict is that there is general bad feeling towards Jews, maybe you think otherwise and if you do, please comment.

Immigrant workers
The attitudes toward immigrant workers here are pretty much the same as in England or in say, America, the difference being in England people love to hate the Polish, in America it’s the Mexicans and here it’s the guys from the caucus regions. The main two points that get mentioned are that they are stealing jobs (again, same shit you hear in the West) and that they are building poor quality housing that is dangerous/that will fall down one day and so on.
The only real difference between countries is that Russians are more publicly vocal about their attitudes and the militsia hassle anyone with dark skin a lot more.

One time I was waiting at the checkout in my local store and a fairly drunk, quite old man (having just bought something) was ranting to the lady at the checkout about how all shops were owned by Caucus people (he was using a racist Russian word though) and how this was wrong etc etc. Now the woman on the checkout (about 35ish) was happily agreeing with this inebriated drunk guy affirming that yes, “they should all be kicked out of the country so Russians can run those shops.”
I thought maybe these two should be involved in politics as they both clearly had a razor sharp understanding of economics and were obviously heavyweights in this field...
Again ill reiterate, the difference here is that an English person would keep his raciest views to himself more and not go walking around broadcasting them, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist, it just makes them harder to spot.

A lot of the times when talking to a surprising amount of Russians, I get the feeling like I’m living in the cold-war 80s. I’m talking Russians from as young as 18 hate ranting hate on America when they’ve never been there or never met an American. A lot of the time they 1) blame America for the fall of the Soviet Union (if you’re going to argue it, at least brings some facts to support your argument) 2) America wants to invade Russia. So even though America is still up to its ass in Iraq, Russia is next on the to-do list, ok chief, sure thing. 

I was once on a date with a pretty hot girl and she started on about America and how she doesn’t like Americans because they destroyed the USSR and that everything then was better (she was 5 when it collapsed so not in the best position to make such a one-sided statement). As usual, I paid no attention and let her off the hook as she was hot but hearing young people parrot repeat things they probably picked up from their grandparents is nothing new. Another time, one of my contacts on vkontakte sent me a video titled “Americas use of cartoons to subliminally corrupt Russian youth”. I simply shook my head and went back to work (by which I mean sitting on facebook and searching for internet filth).

Most Russians will be nice to your face if you're an American, but there's always a couple of knives ready to slide right into that back becuase most won't say what they really think to your face. 

So that’s my little summary. Again, please don’t get me wrong and think that I believe England and America are free of these attitudes; they’re probably just as bad in some cases (any glance at a YouTube comments page is enough to make a guy give up on the human race period). I’m just covering the whole English perspective on life in Moscow, if you think I missed something or am way of, feel free to comment.

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Unknown on April 27, 2010 at 3:29 PM said...

One thing I've noticed is how Russians (especially the press) are pretty hypocritical when it comes to their opinions on America.

They love to point out any instance where the US is inferior to Russia be it a made up inferiority or not. The latest example I saw was in a newspaper I read on my way home from work about how "Despite volcanic ash Medvedev flies to Warsaw". Then the rest of the Article pretty much went on about how Obama was probably too scared or "just doesn't care" enough about Europe to attend the funeral and even featured a picture with a sour faced Obama. Well the facts are 99% of the ash is/was in between Europe and the US leaving pretty much no danger whatsoever for flights between Eastern European countries. The second bitter truth is that the Polish president died IN RUSSIA. So they pretty much had to go whether being on a plane, train or horse pulled carriage.

The funny thing is Russians love to point out when Americans visit Russia, especially celebrities. I've seen whole front pages of newspapers covered with pictures of Tom Cruise or Jim Carey signing autographs in some club in Moscow. Russia loves to point out when America pays attention to it, but then as soon as whatever it was is gone or no longer in the news then Russia just goes back to saying that they really don't need America's attention anyway.

My girlfriend recently admitted to me that she used to swear that she would never be with a non Russian. The funny thing is that it took her about 2 hours into our first date to figure out I was American. She actually asked me (I guess my accent sounds Baltic) if I was from Riga or some other city in Latvia. Six months later she hasn't sold me into the sex slave trade yet so I must be doing something right.

I guess some opinions can change.

Lt. Columbo on May 3, 2010 at 1:47 PM said...

Good to see expats out there breaking down the stereotype barriers.
Keep on smashing em' down, that's what i say

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