How Many Solitudes?
It's far too easy to take up positions of opinion and align oneself with one side of an argument or another unless all the facts are fully known. I'm talking about the Ukraine of course and the Crimean situation. It's a very complicated affair to say the least. If you put yourself in the shoes of each and every faction, they can all be understood and empathized with. Not that any of them are right, but justifyable in their own minds.
Most of the Tatars living in Crimea and the Ukraine aren't old enough to remember when their forbears sided with the Germans to go against the Russians in WWII. And even if they know about it, they're not talking about it. In 1944 Stalin signed a decree uprooting them from Crimea and scattering them all over Russia away from their homeland. The loss of their personal possessions, and their homes and farmlands, THAT'S what they remember. The fact that these were reparations for the war damage is lost on them. They need a reason to hate the Russians, and there it is. Of course that's not how the Russians see it. I mean, somebody's got to pay for the damage done and who better than those who caused it? They did the same thing to the Mennonites who had followed the Germans back into Germany, pulling them out of Germany and populating Siberia with them.
And the Ukrainians of course remember Stalin's manufactured famine which killed millions. But you know, these things are all past. Somehow everyone overcame these terrible atrocities. In fact, until just a few weeks ago, Russians, Ukrainians, and Tatars were living side by side in Crimea as brothers, having buried their predjudices and opinions in some secret recesses of their minds. Then someone pricked a pin into the bubble, disagreeing with the Ukraine bowing to Russia's bail out program over the EU's offer. You can bet it was some cowardly politicians and not the people who started that! They knew the argument would raise the old memories and excite the people into mindless demonstrations. And that's exactly what happened.
Political leaders like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandella don't exist any more and so you don't see millions of Ukranians marching to Moscow or wherever Putin holes up. Instead they're just yelling and screaming in the local square in Kiyiv while the politicians hotly debate the issues in the comfort of their parliament buildings. Everybody is just whistling into the wind.
In the meantime Putin is doing exactly what he wants and the devil take the hindmost. I know I've called him a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them. Neither is cowardly. The rest of the world should take a lesson from that. At least that's how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.