Putin Slams Cancel Culture Amid West’s Efforts to Ban Everything Russian
18:52 GMT 25.03.2022 (Updated: 19:26 GMT 25.03.2022)
© Sputnik / Владимир ФедоренкоCollection of Russian classical literature.
© Sputnik / Владимир Федоренко
Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine has sparked a flurry of anti-Russian sentiment abroad, with a host of cultural and sporting institutions including FIFA, the Cannes film festival and Carnegie Hall issuing blanket bans on Russians. In some cases, the campaign has reached bizarre levels, like banning Russian-themed food or classical literature.
President Vladimir Putin has weighed in on the heights that anti-Russian hysteria has reached in some Western nations, suggesting attempts are being made to “cancel” Russia along the lines of campaigns targeting those who do not “fit into” the modern zeitgeist.
“It’s enough to mention the phenomenon of cancel culture, or the public ostracism of, boycott of, or silencing or neglect of facts, books, names, historical and public figures, authors. People who don’t fit in, who can’t be placed in modern templates – however absurd the latter may be,” Putin said, speaking to laureates of awards in culture and art on Friday.
“Today, they’re trying to cancel our thousand-year history, our people. I’m talking about the progressing discrimination of everything connected to Russia…about this trend unfolding in a number of Western countries with the connivance or even encouragement of the ruling elites. This notorious cancel culture has turned into an abolition of culture,” Putin suggested, pointing to instances of the blacking out of composers like Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Rachmaninov from posters, or the banning of books by Russian authors.
Putin pointed out that the last time such a campaign to destroy ‘objectionable literature’ was carried out was in Nazi Germany nearly 90 years ago.
Cancel culture did not start yesterday, Putin said, but has reached a point where fundamental norms and values and the laws of nature themselves are being undermined and “broken” in some nations. “In a number of countries, and particularly in the countries of the so-called West, such phenomena have not only penetrated politics, public life, sports, and education, but are also dominant in other spheres, and are aggressively imposed there,” he said.
Even history itself has not been spared from the threat of ‘cancellation’, Putin said. “In Hollywood, for example, many, many films have been made where the United States is made out as the only victor over Nazism. At the same time, the courage, heroism and victory of the Red Army, which made the decisive contribution…this contribution has simply been canceled.”
The Eastern Front tied up to eighty percent of Axis military strength during World War II, with the USSR losing 26 million people, including 8.6 million troops who died in battle, and over 17 million civilians and PoWs, in the struggle against Nazi Germany and its allies.
The president also recalled another example, pointing out on the day that the Japanese pay remembrance to the atomic bombings of their country, they are made to remain “shamefacedly silent” about who dropped these weapons, or state simply that “some abstract Allies” were responsible. Textbooks for children “simply don’t say that it was the United States that carried out this terrible and unjustified massacre at the end of World War II,” Putin said.
6 August 2020, 17:33 GMT
Putin suggested that cancel culture is “impossible to imagine” in Russia, and that the country is “insured” against it thanks to its own national culture. “For us, it is inseparably linked to our homeland, to Russia, where there is no place for ethnic discrimination, where representatives of dozens of nationalities and ethnic groups have lived, worked and raised children together for centuries.”
Putin also pointed to the role of Russian cultural figures in shaping world civilization over the centuries, calling their contribution “invaluable.”
“For centuries, Russian masters of literature, music and fine arts have given humanity not only new aesthetic traditions, but also, very importantly, ideals and meanings that have become moral and spiritual guidelines for millions of people, for entire generations,” he said.
Putin expressed hope that the “truth” about Russia would one day be revealed to the world through culture.
“I think many people know about and have seen how a street artist in Naples recently drew a portrait of ‘canceled’ Russian writer Fedor Dostoyevsky. This gives me hope that through the mutual sympathies of people, through the culture that binds and unites all of us, the truth will breakthrough; that art and education will sow only intelligence, kindness and the eternal, as should be the case,” Putin concluded.
In Naples, Italy, a street artist drew a portrait of Dostoyevsky because of the Bicocca University decision to close the Dostoyevsky lecture course because of the special operation in Ukraine.#StandWithRussia #StandWithPutin #NoWarInDonbass #ImpeachZelenskyy pic.twitter.com/1yIayvlxl0— artjom3729🇷🇺🤝🇧🇾🇮🇳🇨🇺🇷🇸🇸🇾🇿🇦🇰🇵🇧🇬 (@artjom3729) March 16, 2022
The Russian military operation in Ukraine has sparked a dizzying campaign of both centralized and spontaneous efforts to ‘cancel’ and ban everything Russian abroad, from Russian vodka and dumplings, to performers, musicians, artists and athletes. Even long-dead Russian authors and composers have not been left unscathed.