NOTE: I was looking through various old posts from the now defunct Random Notes blog, seeking articles I cited in an upcoming essay, when I found this old post. It is not especially insightful, nor does it deal with a pressing issue of the day, but for some reason it amused me and I decided to post it again.
I was reading some of the IMDB message boards about the film Citizen X, a fictionalized account of Soviet/Russian serial killer Chikatilo, and was struck by something amusing. Many times, I saw people denouncing the "cold war cliches", talking about how there was no especial corruption in the Soviet legal system, how it could happen anywhere, and so on. Yet, each and every one was by a westerner! The few comments by Russians seemed to say "Yes, things were pretty bad under the Soviets" and agreed it was relatively accurate in portraying the corruption and cronyism.
Why do we westerners feel the need to excuse the ills of other systems, while maligning our own? I even saw one justifying the use of torture to get confessions by arguing Bush approved of torture as well! I will write more on this later, and have written on it before, but it just struck me today how absurd it is for Americans and Western Europeans to go around excusing the Soviets, while those who actually lived under the regime admit to the many problems of the system. Just absurd.
I feel I should add I have not seen this film, I just happened upon it after seeing it mentioned in a review of another movie. But I was particularly struck by the absurdity of the comments. Not that they are anything new. I have seen it before, notably in a discussion I saw some years ago -- though the details escape me -- discussing the corruption of some Latin American nation. The posts fell into two groups. Hundreds from citizens of the USA and European nations calling the charges absurd, and a few dozen from residents of the country in question saying, with a few exceptions, the charges were mostly correct.
The one which criticized Bush was especially amusing for using the highly politicized Illinois moratorium on executions to show how the US criminal justice system was no better than that under the Soviet regime.I have heard some absurd claims, but that one struck me as an award winning example of foolishness.
CORRECTION: The comments I mention started on IMDB, but I actually read a number of web pages, so my comments do not apply to IMDB alone. Just wanted to make that clear.
Actually, I thought of an anecdote related to this. I was thinking about the way that this illustrates the principle obeyed by many in the west, especially among college students and other PC types, that we cannot criticize any nation except the US (and maybe Israel). When I was in London recently a cab driver was mentioning his surprise that they got the Olympics. He said he was surprised the rest of the Europeans let the English have the Olympics as they don't like them much. I commiserated by pointing out that they like us even less. Which made me wonder why the British are so disliked by most of Europe, or the US so despised by everyone. I am sure the Idiot Twins will come up with some insane explanation, but the British and Americans beign despised seems to point to one thing. Success is unpopular. The British, quite wisely, avoided giving up their currency, for example, which brought the wrath of Europe upon them, and yet ended up saving them from the worst of the EU insanity. Similarly, both Britain and America have, for the most part, been more free and successful than other nations. Granted, Britain went a bit nuts after World War II with keeping "war socialism" through the 1970s, but even then, they were still less socialist than even supposedly conservative continental government.
Actually, there is one other proof of this. Who else is mocked by most Europeans? German tourists. Supposedly loud and obnoxious (same charges as leveled against Americans), and they also come from one of the more productive, industrious nations. Again, they have had their absurd government policies, creating a relatively large welfare class, as did the British (and as did we a few decades later), but they are still seen as relatively productive and wealthy by most of Europe, and, not so coincidentally, looked down upon by most of them.
I could go on and talk about the anger directed toward ethnic Chinese throughout southeast Asia --which is actually somewhat similar to the way Jews are viewed by some in the West, especially as the Chinese tended to perform the same mercantile roles as the Jews did in the middle ages. But I haven't written about envy for a while, so I think I will hold off and discuss all this then.
Now, having praised both the Germans and the Jews, I am sure the Idiot Twins will be utterly confused and forced to spout even less cogent nonsense than usual. So I think I will simply avoid reading the comments attached to this one.
Originally posted in Random Notes on 2012/07/27.