Church Solidarity

Today the Russian teacher attended the very first Orthodox church service of her life. I brought her to church with me because I thought that if she’s religious, it’s unfair to deprive her of being able to go to service. It turned out that she’d never been until now. It’s kind of weird that Russian people need to go to the US to discover Orthodoxy but whatever works.

The priest, who never says anything political during sermons, changed his strategy today. He knew I was bringing a Russian person, so the whole sermon was about countries that invade neighboring nations and what a terrible thing that is. He said that even if a country has a terrible ruler who tells people it’s OK to invade, murder, rape and loot, it’s everybody’s personal responsibility not to let the devil conquer their soul. You have to be against the war and against bringing death to other nations.

Then we prayed for Ukraine. Five times during the service, we prayed for Ukraine.

Then, of course, Klara piped up with the only phrase she knows how to say in Ukrainian, which is “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”

I haven’t spoken to the Russian teacher about the war yet. I’m not planning to until she hits the 6-month mark of being here. For now, it’s enough that she sees Ukrainian flags everywhere and notices how kind and welcoming everybody is. Then I’ll deploy my biggest secret weapon which is my Russian husband who is now a passionate Ukrainian nationalist. I so wish my Jewish father who was the biggest Ukrainian nationalist I have ever met were around. Deploying both a pro-Ukrainian guy from Moscow and a pro-Ukrainian Jew would deliver a very powerful blow.

If after all this, she doesn’t switch sides, we’ll know it’s hopeless.

Leftist Vocabulary

This is a great recap of Putin’s speech from a couple of days ago for English speakers. Note how easily Putin adopts the favorite vocabulary of the American Left. Racism, apartheid, phobia, global slave trade, genocide of Native Americans (as if Russia didn’t and isn’t right now genociding the ethnic minorities of the Russian North-East).

Isn’t it funny that people like Tucker Carlson are so enamored of a guy whose favorite line is that “America is racist, genocidal and the most evil nation on Earth”?

Aberration

The colleague who teaches French gave me these flowers for saving the French program.

Of course, I saved it only for the moment. In larger terms, it’s gone. For years, our senior faculty member in French openly refused to do absolutely anything other than teach the same 3 lower-level courses. For years he responded to every suggestion I made with “this is how it’s always been.” Now he’s retired, and the French program is on the chopping block.

The neoliberal administrator is a jerk, for sure. But we have brought it on ourselves. For over a decade I’ve been saying that getting a $90,000 salary for showing up for three hours twice a week to teach French 101 is an aberration. It can’t exist forever and it won’t exist forever. But nobody listens.

It’s extraordinarily hard to convince people to try something new, to see things in a new way. They pout endlessly and then… there is no French program.

Quote of the Day

In social life we hardly stop to consider how much of that daring spirit which gives mastery comes from hardness of heart rather than from high purpose, or true courage. The man who succumbs to his wife, the mother who succumbs to her daughter, the master who succumbs to his servant, is as often brought to servility by a continual aversion to the giving of pain, by a softness which causes the fretfulness of others to be an agony to himself,–as by any actual fear which the firmness of the imperious one may have produced. There is an inner softness, a thinness of the mind’s skin, an incapability of seeing or even thinking of the troubles of others with equanimity, which produces a feeling akin to fear; but which is compatible not only with courage, but with absolute firmness of purpose, when the demand for firmness arises so strongly as to assert itself.

Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now

Why Us?

Because Europe is an American nostalgia project. There would be no Europe without the US and its Marshall Plan. And today without the US Europe would be nothing but a theme park for Chinese tourists.

Thankfully, Eastern Europe is rising and will keep the cradle of Western civilization alive.

A Different Castration

Erm, yeah, but let’s be honest, hearing your mom or your wife tell you that they don’t want you back and you deserve anything you get is punishment enough. These Russian wives and parents say the nastiest, cruelest things to the POWs. So it’s not necessarily pure-hearted goodness that makes Ukrainian authorities wish for more such phone calls back home.