Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

Do you think the anti-Russian sentiment in the West is going too far or at risk of going too far?

Asked by Demosthenes (15015points) March 12th, 2022

Do you think it’s right to ban Russian singers, Formula 1 racers, etc. from Western venues and competitions because of the war in Ukraine? Should these bans apply to all Russians or just those who are known to be sympathetic to Putin?

Is anyone here Russian-American? How are Russian-Americans feeling about all this?

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39 Answers

JLoon's avatar


It’s well justified, and should continue until all the economic, cultural, and political ties that have empowered Putin are gone.

And this isn’t just a “western” reaction. As everyone saw last week, 141 countries in the UN General Assembly voted to condemn Russian agression and affrim Ukrainian sovereignty. The world is waking up to the fact that 20 years of free trade and diplomatic accomodation have been wasted on this rotten warmongering regime.

Fuck them.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I agree that it is hurting the Russian citizens more than the leaders. We need a scalpel, and not a broadsword. After the most likely government shakeup the west will hopefully remove economic sanctions quickly, and reinstate 10 times more than the Russian citizen has or will lose.

rebbel's avatar

I’m anti Putin (and anti war), not anti Russian.
And I feel like I’m not alone in this.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

You’re not alone. Nothing wrong with people in Russia. It’s a handful of assholes running the place that are at fault.

Tropical_Willie's avatar


The Russian people are hurt but Ukraine is being devastated and Putin may use chemical and biological weapons on the civilians in Ukraine.

Blackberry's avatar

Collateral damage is always a part of war. That’s why people need to see how it affects everyone.

Maybe this will show future psychos what happens when you try to fight the world. Who knows.

zenvelo's avatar

@Demosthenes You need to differentiate between Russian citizens and Russian activities controlled by the oligarchs. Formula One drivers are barred, unless they are involved with a Russian Team. It was right and proper for Formula One to pull out of having a grand prix in Russia.

The NATO allies are very clear about sanctions towards the financial and manufacturing sectors, not against citizens. But if someone in Putin’s circle gets upset because their kid can’t get a Happy Meal or a Coke, maybe there will be some pressure on the regime.

JLeslie's avatar

From what I understand, Russia started their action on Ukraine during the ParaOlympics and there is some sort of international agreement that countries cease of pause fighting during the Olympics. Because they did this, some countries asked that all countries cancel sporting events in Russia. I’m good with that. Usually, I feel like I don’t care what’s happening in the world I support the Olympics taking place as planned, but that doesn’t go for every sporting match, and I do think Russia broke the rules and should have consequences.

Whether to ban Russian athletes altogether? I’m not sure. Does it help Russians turn on Putin? Or, help Russians believe Putin’s garbage?

Kropotkin's avatar

It’s already gone too far.

Cardiff Philharmonic made the ludicrous decision to cancel a Tchaikovsky concert. Wtf has the music of a long dead composer got to do with this war?

The University of Milan briefly removed Dostoyevsky from one of its courses before overturning the decision after a backlash.

Some other scientific organisation removed Russian translations from its publications.

Russian cat breeds are being banned from events.

And of course, Russia is being equated with communism and the left again, so the Russophobia is spilling over into anti-left hysteria too, with leftists being smeared as pro-Putin stooges, despite Putin being an avowed anti-communist, and very much a fascist authoritarian.

There’s no sane or measured response to this invasion. People are losing their fucking minds and being led entirely by emotions. This is absolutely the road to escalation, and it’s pretty concerning.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Kropotkin I agree. I’d really like to think it’s possible to oppose Putin and his aggression in Ukraine without that turning into a xenophobic, jingoistic overreaction, but the history of every war ever says that’s a tall order.

And associating Putin with the left makes no sense whatsoever. The only people I see praising Putin online are on the right, admiring him for being an anti-globalist and fighting the progressive deep state (their words) so that makes him sympathetic. (Some state that while they don’t support the invasion, they still respect him as a nationalist).

JLoon's avatar

@Demosthenes, and @Kropotkin – There’s a large and growing number of thoughtful people around the world who would disagree with the points each of you make.

You’re evidently shocked by a mood that you label as “Russiaphobia” or “jingoism”, without thinking what a better response could be to a hostile tyrant who’s spent years applying his own “cancel culture” strategy to undermine support for liberal democracy – and tried to justify his brutal invasion by smearing Ukrainians as “neo-Nazis and drug addicts.”

But opinions alone aren’t the most important difference – it comes down to a choice of action. Opposing a regime that mobilizes every aspect of Russian society as propoganda to reinforce Putin’s cult status and crush dissent calls for more than just a worried email to Congress. When international diplomacy by government leaders fails to deterr invasion, and economic sanctions can’t stop the killing, individual citizens have every right to apply other pressure with whatever means are available. Boycotts, disinvestment, and cultural rejection aren’t just acceptable – they’re morally and politically necessary.

And Russians themselves understand this point very well :

“For the Russian-born pianist Igor Leavit the issue isn’t so complicated.
‘Being a musician does not free you from being a citizen, from taking responsibility… Remaining vague when one man, especially the man who is the leader of your home country, starts a war against another country and by doing so causes the greatest suffering to your country and your people is unnacceptable.”

Putin’s Getting Sanctioned But Russia’s Getting Cancelled -

If the only option left at this point is to inflict so much pain on Russian leadership that they will never resort to unjustified aggression in the future, it has to include everything that leadership has created and values – Businesses, products, art, culture, athletics, finance, personal reputation and national image. When you need to send a message to someone with their eyes closed and their back turned, sometimes you have to start by kicking them in the ass.

Demosthenes's avatar

Bullshit. Next I’ll be hearing that we should put Russian-Americans in internment camps…after all, it would “punish Putin” and be acceptable collateral damage. “Cultural rejection” is anti-intellectual, backward jingoism. It happens in every conflict. What’s morally necessary is being better than that and better than our history. Putin doesn’t give two fucks if Dostoevsky is taught at an Italian university. He is not the one being hurt by such a misguided decision.

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Demosthenes's avatar

Boycotting Russian business and commerce is one thing. Eliminating Russian culture from universities and the arts is another. Just because I think one form of action is foolish and deeply misguided does not mean I favor “no action”. Are the sanctions “no action”?

JLoon's avatar

@Demosthenes – Sanctions
aren’t nothing, but they aren’t something you or I decided and put into effect. And they’ll take months or years to have full impact.

In the meantime I think it’s totally legimate for private citizens to withdraw support from promotion of anything Putin could claim as an asset, economic or otherwise.

Demosthenes's avatar

So it’s really more about an individual feeling empowered. Let’s not pretend it has anything to do with putting pressure on Putin.

And as private citizens are free to disengage with Russian culture (or what they perceive to be), I will call it out for the ridiculous virtue signal that it is.

JLoon's avatar

@Demosthenes – But I don’t think you’re really calling out anything, except your own unwillingness to grasp what’s at stake.

Maybe you like Tchaicovsky and Doestoevsky and can’t imagine not having them in your life. Fine. But not understanding the ways in which Putin has twisted Russian culture, history, and society to reflect his own personal and political objectives is a mistake.

My view is that any action or choice by ordinary people that undermines his propaganda and weakens his legitimacy is fair. I can do without caviar, or imported vodka, and I don’t feel like spending money on an opera featuring some Russian diva who’s a Putin apologist. That’s no less reasonable or realiistic than paying more at the pump for gas.

And if “virtue signalling” is so offensive to you, what were you coding about your own politics when you asked this question?

Demosthenes's avatar

I refuse to relegate Russian art and cultural output to Putin’s property. If anything that is giving him more power. So Putin has sovereignty over all Russian culture. I wholeheartedly reject that notion.

The examples you’ve provided fall under the legitimate category of boycotting Russian trade and the services of Putin-supporting Russians. That is not the same thing as banning Dostoevsky or removing a work of Tchaikovsky’s from a symphonic program. I do not see these groups of actions in the same league and do not judge them in the same way.

Boycotting Russian products can have an actual economic effect; it is potentially more than a virtue signal (depending on one’s motives and its real effect). “Canceling” Russian culture is misguided in the utmost, sets a bad precedent, and is something I will never get behind.

JLoon's avatar

@Demosthenes and @Kropotkin – It does no one any good to beat each other up over another hot button question, on an obscure website with fewer than 200 followers, in a thread with only 3 people answering. It’s the usual social media script for pointless political rants.

We disagree . I can live with that. It seems like you might even be decent guys with reasonable minds. I could be wrong of course, but assuming I’m not I’ll leave you with this – It’s from people who have more reason to know, and more to lose, than any of us:

“Russian Cultural Elites Want to Call This Putin’s War. But They, Too, Bear Responsibility for the Atrocities in Ukraine

“Ukrainian producer Denis Ivanov sends an open letter about the boycott of Russian cinema and culture – Cineuropa”

Enjoy yourselves.

HP's avatar

These things are always overblown. I remember the silly days of freedom fries. The problem with sanctions beyond those involving freezing and seizure of klepto assets is the fact that virtually every possible measure inconveniencing the ruling class in Russia has already been in place for decades. Putin’s standard of living will not be diminished one iota, regardless of how his country is squeezed. The same holds true for the toadies and sycophants who prop him up. Just like Kim in Korea, no luxury will be beyond the reach of all those promoting and directing this war.

Kropotkin's avatar

@JLoon There’s a liberal fantasy whereby citizens are ultimately in control in “liberal democracies”, because they get to vote, and parties align to the needs and wants of the “median voter”. In this fantasy schema, the citizen is fundamentally responsible for their government, because they voted for it.

This isn’t actually how things work, as there’s a sophisticated system of propaganda and indoctrination even in “liberal democracies”, but for the liberal who believes in this comforting fantasy, they seem to forget that in more conservative authoritarian systems, people don’t even get the illusion of choice in picking their government. There’s no way you can punish or discipline the citizenry of such a country into picking a better government, or somehow overthrowing it.

And that’s basically why sanctions don’t really work on authoritarian regimes. The state can frame it as an attack on everyone because it has a monopoly on the control of information, and when everyone feels attacked, they support their ruling government even more.

If your or my government does something terrible that results in sanctions, we could in theory just vote in someone else. Though in reality, when our governments do terrible things, they’re practically assumed to be morally justified, and negative consequences of “interventions” are just dismissed as mistakes or unfortunate incidents—just how those brainwashed Putin cultist citizens of Russia are thinking right now with regard to the invasion of Ukraine.

This war instigated by Russia is really holding up a mirror to us, but we’re pretending we’re not seeing ourselves, because we want to be morally superior, with a better society, and a better political system—so we listen to “thoughtful people” who to this day will claim that the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan were correct and justified, that the war in Libya was the right thing to do, that our support for Saudi Arabia and it’s bloody mass murder in Yemen is the right thing to do.

We’re not going to oust Putin or turn Russia into a liberal democracy so it joins our glorious Western hegemony. We’re not going to push Russian citizens into overthrowing their government. We’re not even going to punish Putin, or somehow hold him to account with his day in the Hague (The US doesn’t abide by international law, and passed a law to immunise government and miltiary members from prosecution by the ICC) . There is no room for wishful thinking, and acting on emotion to “do something” that results in cultural boycotts that will only alienate and push Russians even more toward supporting Putin.

What we should be doing, instead of literal “virtue signalling” and making futile angry gestures aimed at ordinary Russians, is to start holding your own politicians to account.

We’re in a superior liberal democracy. We can dissent freely, and vote for better governments who don’t murder a million Iraqis, or a quarter of a million Afghanis, or support Saudi Arabia in murdering 400,000 Yemenis. And yet we do! We’re less moral than Russians. We freely elect our murderers. Russians at least have the excuse of living in an authoritarian country, where dissent is suppressed by force.

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JLeslie's avatar

WTF Tchaikovsky?! Are we going to cancel Nutcracker all over the world if this drags out to the Christmas season? That’s crazy to me, and I didn’t play the wedding March (many Jewish people don’t) because of Hitler’s love of Wagner and the composers association with antisemitism.

Also, regarding associating Putin with communism and the left; the right wing in America (probably everywhere) for several years has been pushing the message that Hitler and the Nazis were atheists and socialists. Many Republicans in the US don’t seem to know Hitler helped the private sector, he was a capitalist (although he wouldn’t tolerate businesses that were counter to his goals) and Germany was a country full of Christians carrying out the deeds of the devil.

The right completely twist the history so that in their mind people like Trump are to them, the opposite of Hitler, when he in fact has much of the same modus operandi, although I do not even equate him directly with Hitler. I’m not on board with casually throwing around Hitler comparisons, because it usually diminishes what Hitler actually did. My guess is even in Russia this messaging happens and Putin is seen as an “opposite” to Hitler type leadership.

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Blackwater_Park's avatar

@JLeslie There is an opposite shoe for the other foot that looks exactly the same. This is not exclusively a Republican thing, it’s the oldest trick in the book and it’s a cheap shot. The number of times talking heads on the Left have compared someone or some group to Hitler or Nazis recently is astounding. In the case of Russia, their state media is literally saying that Nazis have taken over Ukraine and they’re going in to liberate Ukraine from them. I have no respect for people who use the Nazi/Hitler trick.

JLeslie's avatar

@Blackwater_Park Agreed! Both sides do it.

If you have the opportunity, and @Demosthenes too, watch the Latest Bill Maher season 20 episode 7, it seems HBO is free this weekend, and in the third segment the woman at the table talks about the media in a way that I have been complaining about for 7 years! I think both of you will agree. She talks about a possible solution for Ukraine, where Putin and Zelensky are close in agreement, and how it’s barely reported, how journalism has changed (what she says is probably not what you expect) and liberal ridiculousness regarding Defund the Police and how Democrats are trying to say they never agreed with it, but the truth is parts of media did try to defend it initially even when Black politicians and academics were saying no, terrible phrase, and inaccurate.

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Demosthenes's avatar

Yeah, sorry @Jonsblond, but I’ve flagged your comment. Take that shit outside.

@Kropotkin Agreed. On everything. Nothing really to contribute, only that the pessimistic analysis (that this will not lead to Putin’s ouster, but only strengthen his support) is probably true. Of course not all Russians are brainwashed cultists and on board with this war, many of them have protested and been promptly arrested for it. There isn’t much hope of a change in Russia any time soon. Putin has been in power for 23 years. Russia has essentially only ever known autocratic rule. We have much more chance of effecting a change on our side.

@JLeslie I’ll check it out. Bill Maher has expressed more “post-left” views like me lately, so I’m interested.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Let me know what you think. I hope you can see it. My sister just told me in NY she wasn’t getting HBO for free, so it might only be in some markets.

HP's avatar

Once again, the trouble with sentiment is that it is just that. How do you go about actually punishing Putin? I mean we can punish Russia in the aggregate, and certainly render the lives of its everyday people more problematic. But Putin himself? My guess is that we’ve already seized all the pilfered assets he’s squirreled away that we can find, as well as those of his enablers. But what’s more difficult for the man personally? Does anyone believe he has trouble facing himself in the mirror or is haunted by our opinion of him? Will he be deprived of anything he wants or needs? Is he losing sleep as Americans debate burning the works of Dostoevsky in their public squares?

flutherother's avatar

@Kropotkin Let’s face this shocking reality. Putin has become a monster that has broken free of all political systems.

HP's avatar

Broken away? It’s more akin to self isolation, but he has successfully drug his country along with him. And of course, he himself suffers no inconvenience or the slightest deprivation. The teenagers he ships off to die in Ukraine do so fully aware that it is their families back home who will once again shoulder the load of struggling with shortages in the land of perpetual winter.

Kropotkin's avatar

@flutherother I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean, so I’m not sure how I’m meant to be shocked.

flutherother's avatar

Political systems and I would say moral systems as well.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@flutherother Autocracy, a system of government by one person with absolute power.
This is the political system that people think exists in Russia. That’s the illusion Putin has anyway. The truth is it’s an Oligarchy and if there is enough pain inflicted on the other oligarchs Putin will be no more. That’s not all good news either, the next guy may be an even bigger asshole.

HP's avatar

And the oligarchs are all in the same boat. That boat may be isolated from the West, but the sucker is enormous. And while the boat may be isolated, there is virtually nothing materially from without that is unavailable to those oligarchs though the boat boat crumbles and its more humble occupants wither from want and exposure.

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