It's offensive and regrettable to hear Democratic politicians blame "the Russians" for Putin's crimes against humanity. The Russian people are not to blame, and, are in fact, among his most direct victims.
This inappropriate Cold War rhetoric reeks of what I had hoped was a bitter, retrograde and bygone era in American discourse. While I understand the desire to criticize, even despise, Trump and Putin, there is nothing progressive about blaming "the Russians." This thoughtless language will only widen the rift that is damaging our country.
I struggled to keep quiet, even as I cringed, when Hilary repeatedly scolded "the Russians" during the debates. Self-professed liberals and progressives (the two do not necessarily co-exist), let's not dismiss the ongoing failures of the Democratic Party leadership. The incessant use of the term "the Russians" to describe Putin’s regime undermines any claims of desiring or working toward progress.
Yes, this is personal. Even with an unlisted phone number for decades, my parents received harassing phone calls that would now be classified as a hate crime in Massachusetts, accusing my family of being commies and pinkos. The callers didn't care that a young child answered the phone, and went off on curse-laden and threatening rants.
My democratic socialist father was red listed for decades because he spoke freely and loudly about humanist ideals. His professor salary was downgraded because of his attempts to unionize and support colleagues of other cultures and races. His fight wasn't all in vain. Those colleagues did receive salary increases and promotions, while my father worked multiple outside jobs, day and night, and on weekends, to compensate for his own lagging wages. Before he became a professor, he lost a job at the Bureau of Labor Statistics when the government agency learned he'd volunteered to parachute into Siberia for the U.S. Army. Never mind that he'd served during World War II and the Korean War, only to send back money to his poverty-stricken factory worker immigrant parents who could not afford health care for his dying older brother.
My maternal grandfather abandoned the Soviet Army and a high level Soviet government job in agriculture, resulting in the brutal killings and torturous Siberian exile of many family members. My mother, born under Stalin, lost her three brothers during infancy before she went on to survive labor and concentration camps in Belarus and Poland with her parents.
I can still recall that voice on the phone accusing me as a young girl of being a commie who should "go back to the Soviet Union." Some two decades after Dec. 26, 1991, I was visiting another part of the country (I live in New York) when an American who earned college degree referred to 21st century Russians as Soviets. That little girl answering the phone during the Cold War wanted to leap out of my body and bellow.
On Aug. 11, 1984, Reagan was getting ready for a live broadcast from his California ranch when he joked around with the National Public Radio audio engineers during the microphone check, saying "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Those comments were not broadcast, but a recording of the joke was leaked to the public.
What we're facing now isn't a joke. Please, let's not revert to that era. When quoting or paraphrasing Democrats taking swipes at Trump and Putin, please parenthetically add (the Russian government) in place of the Russians. A true progressive knows that there can be no headway amid the frigid bitterness of retrograde rhetoric.