March 3, 2022

IT MAY BE TOO LATE FOR THAT: Don’t Go Full ‘Liberty Cabbage’ on Russia.

All this might seem cosmetic—even a little silly—but it is a valuable pincer in a multipronged global pressure campaign aimed at the Russian regime. These institutions are targeting Russian entities with direct ties to the government. These are fair targets if the objective is to wholly wall off the government in Moscow from the rest of the world. But this pressure campaign is broadening to the degree that it is now pushing and stigmatizing Russian entities without those ties.

For example, the video-game producer Electronic Arts announced Wednesday that it would be removing Russian teams from its hockey and soccer games moving forward. The software designer is “actively evaluating changes to other areas of our games,” too. The same day, the Canadian Junior Hockey League revealed that Russian and Belarusian children would be barred from an upcoming draft. In New Jersey, the Newark city council unanimously adopted a resolution suspending the business licenses of two local Lukoil gas stations, though the Russia-based gas giant’s stations are franchises owned and operated by locals.

Bars and restaurants around the world are either voluntarily or facing “pressure” to rename fare that merely evokes Russia. Vodka brands that sound like they are Russian but are, in fact, produced in the West are facing boycotts. The “Moscow Mule” has been replaced with the “American” or “Snake Island Mule.” Canadian restaurants are rebranding to avoid advertising “Poutine” because it sounds too much like “Putin.” The classic dish “Chicken Kiev,” which is still “Chicken Kiev” even in Kyiv, is under assault for utilizing the Soviet-era anglicized spelling of the Ukrainian capital.

Even classic Russian literature is under assault. In a spasm of enthusiasm for the campaign against Russia, Italy’s University of Milano-Bicocca briefly scuttled a course dedicated to the study of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s works. This is nothing short of madness, and it isn’t harmless.

For those unfamiliar with the reference in the title: Woodrow Wilson’s Domestic Terror and Red Scare.

During [World War I], the American Protective League — a quasi-official squadristi boasting membership of a quarter million at its height — beat up dissidents, spied on citizens, and fomented mobs in close cooperation with the state.

The first modern propaganda ministry in the Western world, the Committee for Public Information, dispatched an army of nearly 100,000 agents to foment passion for the war and distrust of German Americans and others. The CPI’s “Four Minute Men” were equipped and trained to deliver a four-minute speech at town meetings, in restaurants, in theaters — anyplace they could get an audience — to spread the word that the “very future of democracy” was at stake. In 1917–18 alone, some 7,555,190 speeches were delivered in 5,200 communities.

Wilson considered German-American citizens and other “hyphenated Americans” to be enemies of the people: “Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.”

The German language was barred from public in many parts of the country. German authors were purged from libraries, families of German extraction were harassed and taunted, sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage,” and — as Sinclair Lewis half-jokingly recalled — there was talk of renaming German measles “liberty measles.”

Which dovetails well another of today’s headlines:  International Feline Federation Bans Russian Cats From All Competitions.

That ought to finish Putin off. Or as Ace of Spades writes, we’ll ban Russian cats — “But… we will continue buying Russian oil, and we will consider buying Iranian oil too. We will not even consider increasing domestic US energy production. Because we’re That Serious…the centrist, moderate Joe Biden continues following the sage advice of Noted Petrostrategic Genius Sandy Cortez.”

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