Before I begin, let me congratulate you: you have finally compelled me to give recognition, despite myself, to your existence.
I tell you, this was not easy. I worked, wrote stories, drew cartoons about terrorism, and in general managed to carry on as though you didn’t exist. But there came a point that you couldn’t even come across the words “Putin” or “Russia”, “Olympics” or “gay” online without you descending in hordes to declaim shrilly about him. Finally, there was no way I could stay oblivious, despite all my efforts.
I suppose that was your goal, to make it impossible for anyone to ignore you.
As I said, congratulations.
But, my Antiputinista friends, though your attempts at garnering publicity for yourselves have worked, what have you actually – in concrete terms – achieved?
Not much, actually. In fact, nothing at all.
Because, whatever you may say or think, it has absolutely no effect on Putin himself. Is Putin going to change his views because you call him a despot and demand he be hanged in Red Square? Of course not. Is Putin going to stop his (alleged) persecution of homosexuals because you Photoshop rainbow-coloured Hitler moustaches on his photo? Will the President of Russia give up his policies because George Takei condemns him? Are you kidding me?
In fact, let me tell you a little fact which might surprise you, my Antiputinista friends: your campaign is not just useless, it’s completely self-defeating. Why?
Well, in the first instance, the vast majority of the world doesn’t give a fig for what you think. Sure, you can create a lot of noise online. You can derail otherwise serious discussions. I’ll give you that. But exactly what effect will all that noise have on the real world? None.
The vast, overwhelming majority of the world, you see, doesn’t care about you. The vast majority of the world isn’t even reading your rants, let alone agreeing or being converted. In fact, if the majority of the world would be interested at all, they’d simply be tempted to take Putin’s side, because...
...secondly, you’re tools. You’re the quite cynically manipulated tools of the Western Imperial propaganda machine, being fed a narrative line that you’re following blindly (if you’re innocent that is). You’re the same kind of tool who demanded the bombing of Syria for Assad’s alleged (and since completely disproven) chemical weapons attack. You’re the same kind of tool who demanded that Saddam Hussein be overthrown for complicity in 11/9. You’re the same kind of tool who...I could go on and on.
Hell, my Antiputinistas, you aren’t just the same kind of tool. In a huge number of instances, you are the exact same tool. Hands up if you believed the Iraq WMDs story. Hands up if you wanted to bomb Syria and still believe that the cannibal headhunters there are heroic freedom fighters. Hands up if you want Edward Snowden jailed or droned as a traitor.
In fact, if Putin had refused Snowden asylum, if Putin had allowed Syria to be bombed and invaded, and if Putin hadn’t tried to reassert Russian influence as a major world power, would we even have heard of his alleged despotism and his hatred for gays? How many of you are aware that barring Iran, just about all the countries in the world which impose death sentences or life in prison for homosexuality are close US allies? How many of you care?
And that leads me to the significant point, the decreasing effect you have on the Russians themselves. What? You forgot about the Russians? They’re, the people who, you know, inconveniently keep voting Putin back to power. Why on earth do they do this?
They do this, Antiputinistas, because they’ve been through the era of Yeltsin, and they’ll do almost anything to avoid the chance of having to live through that kind of societal collapse again. Did I say almost? Forget the qualifier: I meant anything. They’ll do anything. Putin has not only pulled them up from the gutter, he’s given them a modicum of national self-respect.
And this is why all your support for Pussy Riot doesn’t strike the slightest, tiniest, spark of sympathy among the Russians. Most of them don’t give a damn for Pussy Riot. Some of them do give a damn, but only in that they consider Pussy Riot to be Western-paid and controlled agents provocateur, and think they deserve all that happens to them. The more you pour adulation on Pussy Riot, the more certain they grow of this, and the less actual influence Pussy Riot has in Russia.
And let me tell you this – the more you rave and rant, the more the Russians gather behind Putin. Because they feel attacked.
I don’t know how to break this to you, but there’s this little facet of Russian character (Russkaya Dusha, literally "Russian soul") that you may not know about; when attacked or threatened by a foreign invader, they always gather behind leaders, even if those leaders are not popular people otherwise. It’s called patriotism, and is a very different thing from the “my country right or wrong” of nationalistic chauvinism. The more you attack Putin, the more you harden support behind him, for the simple reason that everyone can see that you’re tools, and the tool wielder is using you to attack Russia by attacking Putin.
And, hey, you know what? By comparing Putin to Hitler, you actually managed to get Russian Jews to support Putin.
Isn't that great going so far?
Now, let me tell you another unpleasant little truth: not only the Russians, but the other nations of the world aren’t going to give up on Putin on your say-so. This is because Russia is a major nation, like it or not, a major rising nation with an increasingly important share of the world’s resources, and nobody wants to be on their bad side. Despite all the raving about gay rights, did you see any country actually boycotting the Sochi Olympics? You didn’t, did you? When it came to it, they all went like good little boys and girls. And after all the tales about hotel rooms and murdered dogs, the world will move right on engaging with Russia.
Oh, while we’re on the subject of gay rights, let me cue you in on a couple of things:
First, Russia is culturally as much as Eastern country as a Western. In the East, posing shirtless showing off your body doesn’t in any way mean you’re gay, any more than holding another man’s hand in the street does. And guess who, in the response columns of articles in which Putin’s shirtless pictures appear, appreciate them? Well, it’s not the men.
Secondly, do you know the actual anti-gay law Putin passed – what it actually bans, and what the penalties are? If not, you can check it here. Make sure to educate yourselves or you risk looking like ignoramuses, people.
Let me repeat what I said elsewhere a couple of days ago:
I've been thinking of why the Western media establishment (and, after Iraq, I think that we can agree that the Western media is an organic part of the government?) is so anti-Putin... and why media-dependent people, who know nothing about actual conditions in Russia, are so eager to speak against him.
It's not because he's a "despot"; even if he were. If that were so, the Western media would be filled with daily excoriations of Saudi Arabia, say, or Paul Kagame of Rwanda, or the Bahrain royal family. But where are the diatribes against them?
It's not because he's allegedly anti-gay; if that were so, we'd hear something about US allies Saudi Arabia or Uganda, where homosexuality carries a death sentence.
It's not about Putin exerting control over other neighbouring nations. If that were so, where's the white hot fury deserved by Turkey, or Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, or Burundi or Uganda? All of them are busily interfering in the affairs of other nations...with US blessings.
It's not about him cracking down on the media. Were it so, we'd have raving and ranting about Erdogan in Turkey, or closer to the Western home, Cameron in Britain.
So what's left? One thing only: Putin is being singled out because he stands in the way of Western hegemonism. Without Putin, right now, the oil of Chechnya would be flowing abroad to Western markets; Syria would have been bombed and occupied; Iran would likely long since have been attacked, and Russia would've been reduced to vassal status. Instead, he's built up the country back to a major position in world affairs, and a pole around which opposition to the US is coalescing.
That is why Putin comes in for all the abuse. Nothing more or less.
Thank you for your attention.
What do I personally think of Putin? Does it matter what I think? It does not. But, just for kicks, let me tell you.
Putin is a politician. Like all politicians, his primary goal is power. He will do whatever he has to to hold on to that power, like any other politician. If you think politics is a clean business, you shouldn’t be allowed out alone. And Putin’s brand of politics is succeeding where he needs it to – among the people who actually vote for him.
And that is all that matters.
No, I am not going to watch the Sochi Olympics, but not because I'm boycotting it. I have no fondness for sports, and in a snowless country, winter sports like skiing and ice skating mean nothing to anybody.
Your well wisher (because I think it’s time you stopped making absolute fools of yourselves on the internet)
Bill the Butcher.