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Of course we were supposed to assume the Russians loved their children too!

February 6, 2013

There is a listserv called SEELANGS where academics who study Slavic languages, linguistics, and literatures discuss translations and linguistic problems, ask for help locating obscure texts or identifying translated quotations, and argue about what is an off-topic waste of time, or, conversely, censorship disguised as adherence to list rules about staying on topic. A while ago Eliot Borenstein wrote a long argument to the list that the list should disband and be replaced by something else. At the time, as someone who admires EB’s scholarship and commentary on contemporary Russian culture (and knows him slightly), I was annoyed — why didn’t he just create the thing he was calling for, instead of adding to the genre of complaining about the list on the list? Why didn’t he start his own blog?

I can’t complain about his complaining anymore, though, because since September 2012 he’s been one of the key contributors to All the Russias’ Blog. Also, I think he’s somehow connected to the several “Slavists Unite” groups that turned up on Facebook a few months ago.

I’m still catching up with old posts on that blog (thanks to Joshua Tucker for leading me to it) but feel confident recommending it. I can’t agree with EB’s reading of Sting in this December post, though. EB seems to treat Sting as some Cold Warrior who’s honestly in doubt about whether the Russians love their children too, or who rhetorically mentions Russian children just to show how awful nuclear war would be. But I think that misses the point of the rhetoric: the singer says “hey, Anglophone NATO-country listener, you know that Mr. Khrushchev says reckless, scary things and might start a horrible war, which is awful, since you love your children,” but over the course of the song makes it blindingly obvious that Mr. Reagan also says scary things and the Russians love their children as much as you love yours. The point of which, it seems to me, is to make you and me stop hating the Commies so much that we’re indifferent to Russian families and their ideology-transcending, just-like-us personal love for each other. Then all of us children-loving regular people can successfully restrain our mad leaders.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 7, 2013 7:20 am

    An excellent find; I’ve added it to my Google Reader feed. Thanks!

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