Russian scapegoats | The Indian Express

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was arrested and exiled by an imperial Russian government, the “Russian salad” was invented by a Belgian, and at the height of the Cold War Andrei Tarkovsky became one of the most famous filmmakers at film festivals. of Cannes and Venice. During the current conflict in Ukraine – and the ensuing outrage in many quarters against Vladimir Putin’s expansionism – an Italian university suspended a course on Dostoyevsky, a Kerala cafe removed Russian salad from its menu and it there have been boycotts and bans on Russian dancers, singers, artists and filmmakers across Europe. While cultural aggression against Russian artists may come from a place of solidarity with the suffering Ukrainian people, it is, in practice, reckless and counterproductive.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the protracted conflicts of the 20th century, it is this: artists can bridge the gaps and keep the doors open when governments cannot. In the subcontinent, after all, Indian films and Pakistani artists have continued to thrive across the border. Even the most ardent anti-Putin campaigner would not claim that all Russians support the invasion of Ukraine, or that the country’s anti-war protests are not a welcome sign of dissent. But perhaps the reason for the belligerent calls to avoid anything Russian has less to do with Russia than with the nature of moral posture in the age of the internet.

The decision to overthrow Dostoevsky from the European literary canon or “cancel” the Russian salad is reminiscent of the kind of comedic virtue signal often seen on social media. On the Internet, anonymous messages and loud groups are the tools used to intimidate and excoriate people that users find unpleasant, or even others associated with them. In the real world, however, things are more complex. Dostoyevsky is not Putin’s creation, a ballet dancer is not a suicide bomber.

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