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Professional Russia-Bashers for Hire

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Wanted: Russia bashers. Can you eloquently slam Russian society, its government, people and especially Putin? If so...then we want you! Earn top salary and fame!

No such advertisement exists in print or on-line, but it surely exists in the minds of some Russians wishing to "jump ship", "seek better pastures" or just improve their lives financially. This invisible Ad has been beckoning those willing and able to criticize, malign and accuse Russia and all things Russian for many years. With the recent rise in extreme Russia-phobia, however, the opportunity to capitalize on this craze has been too tempting for many.

Those who have answered the Ad are a group comprised of mostly self-loathing Russians, the aggrieved, and cynical opportunists.

Julia Ioffe, who is Jewish, and an immigrant from the USSR, is a classic example of the phenomenon

The first type are easily recognizable by their open contempt for their fellow countrymen and women. They hate themselves and project all their own deficiencies onto others accusing them of ignorance, bad manners, and nastiness. They are especially noticeable at foreign airports, restaurants and hotels. When given the chance, these self-loathing Russians turn on their country of origin and with the help of the Western Media blast Russian society and Putin with enthusiastic bile. Ironically, they wallow in - and exhibit -the same nastiness they assign only to all those other "ignorant Russians" .

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The second category - that of the aggrieved - has a more personal reason to hate and malign Russia. These are the people who are motivated by revenge for injustices of the past. Mostly Jewish, these bashers have leapt at the opportunity to get back at Russia for the crimes committed during the Soviet Union when some Jews (small in number compared to millions of non-Jewish Russians) were - in fact - persecuted and on occasion even executed. It matters little that current day Russia is as distinct from the USSR as the Soviet Union was from Tsarist Russia.

In the minds of many in the West there is no difference really between the Soviet Union and Russia. The two can be conflated with ease especially if your intention is to pour scorn upon Russia and Russian society as a form of pay-back. By doing so you have at least to some extent "righted the wrongs" your relatives suffered from. Rationalization works quite well if you have good intentions.

The third group is rather pathetic. These are the people who do not hate Russia and all things Russian, but they do see a golden opportunity to profit from the current atmosphere of Russia-phobia. Among this group you will find journalists, artists, musicians and even stand-up comedians who perform in English. This is the true target group for that invisible Ad.

If you lack success in your field (journalism, art, music or comedy) all you need do is utilize your talent in the service of Russian-bashing. It is a Faustian bargain for sure, but the lure of money and possibility of fame is just too tempting for these people. All they can see are the stars in their eyes along with the stripes below as they mingle with Madonna and Maddow at some chic party for celebrities. "I'm a winner at last!" they say to themselves - only to find out too late that spiritually it is surely a pyrrhic victory.

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

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