Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.....

No great nation has shown themselves more pitiful than Russia....

Pravda, the “official” news organ of the old Soviet Union and the presently officious news organ of the new Russian Federation has been busy wielding their poison pens at a new target, Canada.

Not satisfied with letting the sports chips fall where they may and choosing to engage in their customary contrarian behavior, the Russians, via that press organ has been busy voicing a continual and demeaning diatribes against Canada and her Olympic efforts. They have questioned and commented on everything from the viability of Vancouver as a site for the games, to suggesting that the recent tragic death of Georgian luge rider Nodar Kumaritashvili was somehow Canada’s fault. They have even used the awarding of a gold medal for men’s figure skating to American, Evan Lysacek, instead of to their “golden boy” Yevgeny Plushenko, as fodder for criticism of Canada, even though the Canadians had no part in that decision.

I know that Canada and Canadians are perfectly able to stand and defend their own honor.

They don’t need me to do so here on their behalf.

They certainly have done so admirably enough for as long as they have existed as a nation and as a people. They have sent their sons and daughters to war in honorable defense of freedom and justice in two world wars. As an American of Canadian decent, I have a special feeling for the land and the people of the “great white north” who I call friend as well as family. When I read or hear someone pronounce scurrilous and unwarranted remarks toward those I feel some kinship to, I feel need to speak up.

Pravda’s recently assertions that Canada was in the “shadow of the United States”, and that by virtue of being our next door neighbor, that made Canada a “skinny weakling” of a nation. They also made the follow on remark that Canada was a mere “colonial outpost” to Great Britain. The sum total of these assertions was that neither the city of Vancouver nor Canada as a whole had any business hosting an event like the Olympics, something, incidentally, they have done twice before successfully. Strange that Russia questions it now since they attended the games in both Calgary and MontrĂ©al and have done well in both venues.

When did Canada or specifically Vancouver become such a terrible place to host an Olympiad?

This poisonous op-ed probably began to truly coalesce when the Russian found they were not doing as well as they hoped they would. The “medal count” was beginning to look decidedly lopsided toward North American teams and athletes. My guess is that this dissatisfaction needed a target. Canada, or specifically, the city of Vancouver and her Olympic organizing committee became that easy target. Knowing that the United States, quintessential target of all Russian/Soviet ire, would just laugh and inquire if the Russians would like some cheese with their whine, decided to stick it to Canada instead.

Let’s analyze:

Russia is the largest country on the planet with a land area approximately 7 million sq. km. larger, and a population 75% larger than Canada. But for all that vast size and population, it is Russia who has manifested the inferiority complex.

Canada, like Russia, is a polyglot nation. Both nations are made up of many peoples from all over their respective geographical areas. The difference is that Canada is made up of immigrants who voluntarily have made the choice to become Canadians and to become part of a free society based on the rule of law and on the traditions of fair play, economic and political freedom. Russia is a nation who’s history is covered in blood, and steeped in tragedy not only for her own indigenous Slavic peoples but of those who her rulers have conquered and subjugated over the last millennia. Rarely have Russians known a period of history where the political landscape was not controlled by despots or oligarchs or a period when the populace was not ravaged by war or in the throws of economic misery. I have yet to see lines of people at the Russian borders begging entry to their country, but I have seen lines at Canada’s ports of entry populated by those who wait patiently, and with hope for the future to enter and begin their new lives as Canadians.

As an American, I expect to be hated, envied, reviled and generally put down and upon by Russia and her ‘state controlled media’. For them, it is politic and sport. We have been rivals too long and both countries are too different politically or economically to get along and play nice with each other. There is too much history that they refuse to lay down and let go of to allow it. It is Russia who has a vast pool of talent to draw upon. When compared to Canada, the large athletic training infrastructure from the Soviet era could be utilized to increase their haul of Olympic medals. Blaming Canada for the lack of success (medals) is just wrong. It shows a lack of national pride and a lack of good sportsmanship.

It also shows a lack of class and graciousness, which elements most people in the know, see as hallmarks of the Canadian national character.