Everybody has heard about the shocking massacre at the gay night club in Orlando, Florida. Called “the worst mass murder” in American history.
And that’s saying something, because Americans are known for their mass shootings. But I don’t want to get into the whole issue of gun laws or American culture of violence, or any of that, I’ll leave that to people more competent to punditicize on such matters.
My sole contribution is to translate/summarize this piece expressing the reactions of Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry office.
As a member of the Russian government, and as a traditional-minded Russian woman, the majority of whom believe in traditional family values, it goes without saying that Zakharova is not the type of person you would ever see at a “gay pride” parade, let alone dancing in a gay nightclub.
People who follow Zakharova know that she does not always speak diplo-speak, she speaks with the language of an actual human being, a woman, sometimes bluntly and often with feeling. Maria keeps a Facebook page, a more informal medium to share news and comment. And she was horrified at the vicious level of homophobia in some of the commentary she saw, in regard to the Orlando massacre. The mean spirit and violent fantasies of certain commenters. And she spoke out against hatred, using emotional language, which I attempt to translate as best I can.
“How is it possible“, Zakharova begins, “to defend so-called ‘traditional values’ if you have no compassion for others?” Maria was repulsed by commentary of the type “I don’t feel sorry for the Orlando victims — they’re gays,” or “they did this to themselves by picking the gay lifestyle”.
“And what if they had shot developmentally disabled children?” Maria asks. “Would these same people have said, ‘Well, that’s just 50 fewer parasites to feed’ ? I wish I could send all the way to hell people who say that ‘Compassion is not possible for people who…’ and then cite a million reasons, up to ‘Well, this did this to themselves’. No, it is time to make a choice: Either human feeling for others, or [rejection of others] based on one’s social-political views.”
Zakharova goes on to write bemusedly: “It is very strange for me to write about this, but I will anyhow. (1) Any debate about personal or sexual preferences should not be decided by the use of weapons. (2) It is not possible to defend even the most correct and upright traditional values, if you are person lacking in compassion for others.”
One of the commenters thanked Maria for her “courage” in reprimanding the homophobes.
“I have shown no courage whatsoever,” Maria replied. “Otherwise I would have penned a string of unprintable obscenities.”
Earlier in the day Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent an official telegram [they still use telegrams??] to American President Barack Obama, in which Putin expressed his condolences for this horrible massacre.
Which Obama has since classified officially as a “terrorist act”, which some people consider a dubious definition, but that’s a whole n’other story as well.
In his official telegram President Putin stressed that Russia shares the pain and grief of those who lost relatives and loved ones in the course of this “barbaric” massacre. And also expressed his wishes that those who were injured should recover quickly and fully.