Lucas: Putin’s poke at intolerance by ‘woke’ left revealing
When Vladimir Putin throws Martin Luther King in your face, you’d better watch out.
That is what the Russian leader, a one-time KGB agent and propagandist, did last week in a speech critical of far-left U.S woke ideology at a conference in Sochi.
He said that wokeness in America is no different than what took place in Russia during the 1917 revolution after the Bolsheviks assumed power and sought to remake Russian culture.
The Bolsheviks called everybody tovarish (comrade) even when they were arrested and got a bullet in the back of the head in the basement of the notorious Lubyanka Prison in Moscow.
While Putin, no doubt with a wink and a nod, took jabs at U.S. progressives and their militant wokeism, his words at times made more sense than the blather that often comes out of President Biden or Sen. Bernie Sanders, who just happens to be the shadow president.
Speaking of blather, it is only fair to point out that these three longtime surviving politicians have more in common than most people would think.
For one thing, they are all in the same age group. Biden and Bernie are 80 and Putin is pushing 70.
For another, none of these three statists ever got a legitimate paycheck outside of the government. That is why they love big, authoritarian government, so long as they or their party control it.
It is no wonder they believe that the states have all the answers, ranging from forced COVID-19 vaccinations, to who should be sent to a Siberian labor camp.
It is a given that Putin is a no-nonsense, smooth charlatan, who has a habit of making dissidents disappear.
And Putin, a serial killer, is probably the last man to take seriously when he criticizes racism, or social injustice in the United States, the most open and freest country in the world. But he may have a point.
Compared to Russia, though, as well as to other countries, America is a paradise, which is why everyone wants to come here, legally or otherwise. No one has recently been reported illegally crossing the border to get into Russia.
Yet, the Russian leader in his sly way, made some sense on the militant wave of woke-induced cancel culture and alleged racism that has so consumed the United States that it can’t think straight.
He brought up King’s remarks about judging people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.
“Countering acts of racism is a necessary and noble cause,” Putin said, “but the new ‘cancel culture’ has turned it into reverse discrimination, that is, reverse racism. The obsessive emphasis on race is further dividing people, when the real fighters for civil rights dreamed precisely about erasing differences and refusing to divide people by skin color.”
Only days before the U.S. State Department celebrated “International Pronouns Day,” Putin observed that leftist zealots wanted to “renounce the traditional interpretation of such basic values as mother, father, family, and the distinction between the sexes.”
Putin mocked the new woke nomenclature of the left for calling people “parent number one and parent number two, birthing parent instead of mother, and human milk instead of breast milk because it might upset the people who are unsure of their own gender.”
“Not to mention some truly monstrous things when children are taught from an early age that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa,” he said.
Putin, a product of the Russian revolution that brought the Communists to power, was critical of the then-ruling Bolsheviks and said that the U.S. was making the same mistakes that the Bolsheviks made in seeking to reshape humanity. And they failed.
Putin said that the woke quotas coming out of the politically correct Hollywood films are worse propaganda than what came out of the Propaganda Department of the old communist Soviet Union.
“Incidentally,” Putin added, the Bolsheviks were absolutely intolerant of other opinions, different from their own. “I think this should remind you of something that is happening. And we see what is happening in the Western countries. It is with puzzlement that we see the practices Russia used to have and that we left behind.”
Putin’s remarks could have come out of the mouth of former President Donald Trump. But then he would have been accused of colluding with the Russians.
Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachusetts political reporter and columnist.