In case you haven't noticed, I don't like The New York Times. It engages in irresponsible, biased journalism way too often for my liking. There are moments, though, when one would expect even the silliest journalists in the world to control their desire to advance some sort of an agenda. Unfortunately, even then journalists who work for The New York Times can't keep their desire to put a convenient spin on everything in check.
On January 24, 2011, Moscow was shaken by a horrible act of terror that claimed the lives of many people at the Domodedovo Airport and left many others seriously wounded. This is a tragic moment that should not be used to advance any kind of unfair and ridiculous stereotypes of the Russian people. An entire country is in mourning. Why can't its tragedy be respected, at least for a little while?
It is shocking to me that Andrew Kramer at The New York Times chooses this particular moment to advance a particularly unpleasant image of the Russian people in his article titled "After the Bombing, It's Business as Usual." The title itself is quite offensive. If the author of the article is trying to advance the idea that the Russians are so jaded that such a tragedy causes them no grief, he is a prejudiced, uninformed fool. How would he have felt if journalists from other countries had written this kind of articles hours after the tragedy of 9/11?
In his unintelligent article, Kramer tries to demonstrate that the Russian people are somehow more "fatalistic" than people of other countries:
Meanwhile, people continued to arrive to pick up loved ones and to embark on flights out of the city. It was as if officials, passengers and Muscovites in general were displaying a particular brand of Russian stoicism, if not fatalism. “Of course we feel sorry for the people who suffered,” said Olga Y. Vishnyakova, a departing passenger, as she squeezed through a crowd in the check-in area. “Some people refused to come to the airport because they were worried about their personal security,” she said, noting that just nine months ago a suicide bombing in the subway had been followed immediately by an attack at a nearby station. “But I thought, “Well, you cannot escape God’s fate.’ And then I thought, ‘It’s been a few hours and nothing’s happened. Why not? It’s probably OK.’ ”
I have no doubt that this conversation with a passenger did, in fact, take place. Still, the Russian Federation is a huge country that has 83 federal subjects. It has a population of 142 million people of different races, ethnicities, religious persuasions, and linguistic identities. It spans 9 time zones and is the largest country in the world. Drawing conclusions about "all Russians" on the basis of a couple of rushed conversations with a few traumatized passengers makes very little sense. I'm glad that major newspapers don't publish articles of the "All Jews are greedy" variety any more. Is it too much too ask that the same courtesy be extended to the Russian people?
P.S. Those who have been following this blog for a while know that as a former colonial subject of Russia I am not a huge fan of that country. Still, it is jarring to me when a whole huge nation is stereotyped in such an unfair and unfounded manner. I probably have had a chance to spend more time with the Russian people than anybody else who reads this blog and I can assure you that they are neither more nor less fatalistic than any other people. I can tell you more: they are all different. Just like the Americans. Or the Argentineans. Or the Nigerians.