“He was a large, broadchested, powerfully-made man, of a full glossy black, and a face whose truly African features were characterized by an expression of grave and steady good sense, united with much kindliness and benevolence. There was something about his whole air self-respecting and dignified, yet united with a confiding and humble simplicity.”
Thus does Harriet Beecher Stowe introduce her titular character in one of the great classics of American literature. And it speaks to something truly evil in American history, and in the American character, that this great literary personage, the very emblem of human goodness, was transformed, via blackface minstrel shows, into a laughing stock and target of scorn and hatred.
So, yesterday NBC News confirmed that Megyn Kelly has been fired from the “Today” show. While there may have been multiple causes for the cancellation, including high costs and low ratings, most pundits seem to believe that the immediate cause was an unfortunate utterance from Megyn concerning the issue of “blackface”. By even using this one word, Megyn touched the “third rail” of American journalism, and therefore had to be burned at the stake. Actually, everybody knows that there are two “third rails” in American journalism. Two taboos that can never be broken: (1) You are not allowed to criticize Israel, and (2) You may not use the n-word. (Or talk about blackface — so maybe that is a third third rail!)
The issue at hand was Halloween costumes, and somebody posed the question whether it would be okay to go as Diana Ross. Megyn should have kept her silence, instead she opened her mouth and inserted her foot:
“But what is racist?” she asked a panel on her show. “You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. That was OK when I was a kid, as long as you were dressing like a character.” And with those three innocent sentences, Megyn sealed her own doom.
Megyn The Victim
The world of American High Journalism (aka the Ministry of Propaganda) is a brutal, Hobbesian dog-eat-dog kind of environment. Megyn herself has been a true victim on more than one occasion. In her capacity as a female person. For example, Fox News Bestial Chairman Roger Ailes treated his beautiful female anchors as just so much meat on the chopping block. Megyn and the other pretty blondes were perennial targets of his revolting porcine libido.
From the frying pan into the fire! Megyn next got herself sexually harassed by the Master Himself: Donald Trump! As a presidential candidate, Trump initiated a brutal feud against Megyn. Showing that he has no class whatsoever, Trump’s highly disrespectful remarks about Megyn even included a coarse reference to menstruation.
But this time, gotta admit it, Megyn did it to herself. She knows the rule now: You can say the word “black”, and you can say the word “face”. And you can even put these two words together in a sentence, for example: “I stand face to face with the black starry night.” But what you can’t do is even say “blackface” as one word; let alone defend its practice. Farewell to Othello!
But What Do The Russians Think Of All This Nonsense?
Well, I reckon it’s safe to say that certain Russian pundits are having a field day with this, because they think the whole issue is ludicrous. Which it is. For example, the anchor of the Russian “Vremya” show (“Time”), Kirill Kleimenov, invited Megyn to join his show as a co-anchor. Kleimenov enticed Megyn with the promise of “the adoration of millions of our men, and the envy of millions of women!”
Well, I reckon Megyn’s Russian is probably not good enough to co-anchor a Russian show; but I am betting she could get a gig on RT’s American channel, if she were so inclined! Otherwise, the Russian pundits are probably just indulging in some Schadenfreude at America’s expense. And they just don’t get it, why Megyn had to be fired for such an innocuous remark. So they laugh their heads off at American “Political Correctness” run amok.
Okay, one must be “fair and balanced” in this matter — just like Fox News! God knows I frequently criticize Idiot-Americans for not understanding Russian culture and history. But, by the same token, Russians don’t really understand American history either. And they don’t “get” the whole race issue. Why would they? Russian history did not include African slave-running, African slavery, African colonization, racial segregation or Jim-Crow. There is no essential beef between Russians and Africans. Russia has only a very small African-based ethnic group. Oh, I don’t deny that these people sometimes elicit stares or experience “street racism”, or that individual Russians might entertain prejudice against the darker-hued. But in terms of institutions, vicious caste-based discrimination such as American Jim-Crow, never occurred in Russian history and is simply alien to the Russian mentality. Which trends to be inclusive and multi-humanistic, in that sense.
True story: An indignant American tourist asks a Russian tour guide: “Why do we see so few blacks here?” [as if that were proof of racism or race-based immigration policies] Tour guide replies: “Because we never had colonies in Africa.”
Russian history (not unlike the Roman Empire) is a history of absorption of various ethnic groups, or at least the elites of various ethnic groups, into a single multi-national entity. As ethnic Russians expanded South and East into Siberia, as they encountered numerous other peoples, the fighting was usually succeeded by the inter-marrying. First make war, then make love, that was the rule.
The main division was the class division: Princes vs Serfs. And a Prince could be anybody, of any race or ethnic group, even an African, like Abram Hannibal. When Europeans first encountered Africans, they thought they were a species of apes. When Russians encountered them, they thought: “Hmm, these people seem interesting…”
In a way, and this will go counter to the standard American thought-process, Russian history is much more benign than American history. For sure, there was a lot of fighting, and a lot of wars; but there were no genocides of indigenous peoples; and definitely no race-based slavery. So, Idiot-Americans, you need to put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Having said all of that, I now have to make a serious U-turn and describe a recent dangerous development. Namely, the attempt of certain evil-doers to import American-style black-white racism into Russia. All part of the insidious Globalization process! And I also have this opinion piece by Petr Akopov, to review. In his analysis of the Megyn Kelly affair, Akopov makes some good points, but also falls into a couple of traps, as I will try to show…
[to be continued]