I was just on the phone with my mom on the way to work; she’s going to Russia tomorrow to visit her parents and my sister who still lives there, who doesn’t want to live there because she feels very keenly the oppressive frameworks in place for everyone, but who will probably never be able to leave due to the fucked up visa application process.
I was ranting to her about white people on the internet writing sneering one-liners dismissing Pussy Riot as some white bitches getting too much attention, and when called on it mumbling something about disproportionate attention given to white people in Western media (while the latter is absolutely true it usually has no presence in these original posts I see floating around, so). She usually doesn’t care much for my rants, especially if they’re internet-inspired. Because she’s a normal person.
But she said something that really kind of summarized for me why I feel so strongly about these dumb posts. This is paraphrased and translated from the Russian, but she said, “I’m just so depressed because I will have to go there and all I will see is Pervyi Kanal (the state-sanctioned channel) talking about these women as criminals. And what’s more, [Americans] have no idea how they talk about all women there. I can’t even put into words the dehumanization.”
My mother is someone who’s been through a lot of shit, and so has the rest of my family. They all have history of labor camps, prisons, “illegal” books smuggled in and read in the dark, conversions to Christianity that are nothing short of forced for Jews who want to be in politics under the new Orthodox-happy climate, etc. When she gets sad about yet another political abomination, another human being locked up in a cage during a “trial” and sentenced to years in prison, I share her sadness. And the way the Western media is treating Pussy Riot, as some cool radical girls, as pretty but vapid tools in fighting a power they don’t really understand - that is actually preferable to the way Russian media is treating them. As criminals, as whores, as enemies of the state and the state religion.
Because of all these things, and because people like Anna Politkovskaya were murdered for their struggle for human rights and journalistic integrity and no one will ever be held responsible for their deaths - because of this, posts shaming others for caring about Pussy Riot scare and disturb me.