A Stupid Article on Ukraine in Toronto Sun

And the world continues to annoy me. Here are some excerpts from an article on Ukraine published by Toronto Sun that, once again, makes me wonder how the hiring process for mainstream media occurs:

Why did my heart sag when I learned of the international conference in Ottawa titled “Ukraine at the Crossroads?” Over 30 notable academics, politicians and international experts gathered at the Chateau Laurier on March 7-8 under auspices of the Ukrainian Canadian Council (UCC) to discuss the state of democracy and freedom in Ukraine and its tenuous (and often tense) relations with Russia. Prior to that gathering — often involving some of the same “experts” — was the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Again, they rehashed what to do about the loss of democratic reforms that jeopardize Ukraine’s ties with Europe.

There is no explanation why the conference and the experts are dismissed in such a condescending manner other than the fact that some Conservative Canadian MP has not been invited to offer his precious wisdom about the state of affairs in Ukraine:

The big lapse in the standing committee is the absence of Conservative MP Chris Alexander, former diplomat in Moscow and former ambassador to Afghanistan who understands Russia better than the whole Harper cabinet and NDP caucus if you ask me.

Yes, really, how can any discussion about Ukraine be conducted in the absence of a former ambassador to Afghanistan who understands Russia?

Leaving aside the extremely poor writing and editing for the moment, let’s contemplate the author’s grievous  lack of knowledge about the country he has chosen to discuss in this badly written article:

Some 45 years ago, I lived and worked for a couple of years in Moscow, when Ukraine was a republic of the Soviet Union. Even then, tension between Russians and Ukrainians was palpable. This always struck me as curious, because as an outsider it was hard to tell the difference between the two.

I remember asking a Russian why the thinly disguised hostility.

Forget the 300 years of vicious colonial rule, the genocide of the 1931-2, the annihilation of the Ukrainian cultural legacy, the endless prohibitions against the Ukrainians using their own language. Forget the glaring differences between the art, history, language, culture, etc. of the Russians and the Ukrainians. None of these things matter because, to an indifferent traveler from Canada, all those Slav people look exactly the same. So why on earth would these very similar people dislike each other? It isn’t like they might truly differ in the manner of, say, Canadians and Americans.

The journalist does not stop here and continues sharing his ignorance with the universe:

Now that Ukraine is an independent country, but still economically, socially and culturally dependent on Russia in ways that Belarus is, it cannot escape Russian paranoia about its desire to identify more closely with Europe.

Ukraine’s economic dependence on Russia is an issue that can be discussed. However, it remains a complete mystery to me how my country is “socially and culturally” dependent on its Eastern neighbor. Russia has been fighting to keep Ukraine as part of the empire for centuries, while Ukraine has been struggling to escape from its domination. So who’s the dependent party here?

The culmination of stupidity in the article comes when its unintelligent author dismisses the long-standing tradition of democracy in Ukraine:

Democracy is too new, too fragile in that part of the world, and is not yet a tradition as it is elsewhere.

I have got to wonder where that magical “elsewhere” that has an older modern democracy than Ukraine is located. If one decides to write about Ukraine, surely, one can be expected to know of the Zaporizhian Sich that existed between the XVIth and the XVIIth centuries and that was governed according to the principles of democracy.

If the article is bad, then the very first comment that follows it is even worse:

Who the hell cares what happens in the Ukraine? This is Canada, we have our own problems to worry about and this country isn’t one of them.

Yes, to hell with the huge Ukrainian Diaspora in Canada, with the globalization, and with foreign affairs. A true Canadian is too preoccupied with “our own problems” to notice that things are happening outside Canadian borders.

Thank you, Ukrainian Canadian, for pointing me towards the article.

8 thoughts on “A Stupid Article on Ukraine in Toronto Sun

  1. But they speak a funny foreign language over there. How can they possibly have ever had democracy until it was invented in 18th century North America? [/sarcasm]

    Really, I’m astonished at this Canadian paper. You’d think they’d be all over the idea that democratic principles were not in fact completely forgotten until some rich landowners in Virginia remembered them. I do not approve of American-style ignorance of world history popping up elsewhere. I have enough trouble with it here.


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