Putin: Battle for Equal Rights in West Turning Into Dogmatism Bordering on the Absurd
According to the Russian president, the campaign for equal rights in some Western nations has turned into a phantasmagorical farce.
The West's battle against discrimination and the fight for equal rights appears to be turning into aggressive dogmatism on the verge of the absurd, Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested.
"Looking at what's happening in a number of Western countries, we see with amazement our own practices which we thankfully have left behind, hopefully, in the distant past," Putin said, speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club forum in Sochi on Thursday.
"The battle for equal rights and against discrimination is being turned into aggressive dogmatism bordering on the absurd, when the great authors of the past - such as Shakespeare, are no longer taught in schools and universities because they and their ideas are seen as backward. The classics are considered backward for their failure to understand the importance of the questions of race or gender," Putin said.
"Countering manifestations of racism is a necessary and noble thing, but in the new cancel culture it is being turned into reverse discrimination, that is, racism in reverse," the president suggested.
"The obsessive emphasis on the theme of race further divides people," Putin stressed, pointing out that the dream of those who truly fought for human rights was to erase distinctions and reject the idea of dividing people on the basis of their skin colour. "I specifically asked our colleagues to give me the quote of Martin Luther King Jr, who said, as you recall, the following: 'I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.'"
Putin said he was amazed at some of the things taking place in countries dubbing themselves the "flagships of progress" when it comes to race and gender politics.
The discussion of gender rights, for example, has turned into a "phantasmagoria" in a number of Western nations, according to the president. He also blasted the idea of giving young children the right to independently determine their gender.
"'Parent number one' and 'parent number two': 'birth parent' instead of 'mother,' banning the use of the phrase 'breast milk' and replacing it with 'human milk' so that people who are insecure about their gender will not be upset. This is nothing new. In the 1920s the Soviet so-called kulturträgers also invented the so-called 'newspeak,' proposing that in this way they could create a new consciousness and change society's values," Putin said.
"Not to mention the simply monstrous things, such as when children today from a young age are taught that a boy can easily become a girl and vice-versa, factually imposing on them an alleged choice, removing the parents from this process and forcing a child to make a decision that could break his/her life," he added.
Characterising Russian conservativism as a "conservativism of optimists," Putin said that "we believe that stable and successful development is possible," and that "everything depends first and foremost on our own efforts."
"For the coming period of global reconstruction, which may continue for quite some time and the final outcome of which is not known, moderate conservatism is the most reasonable approach, at least in my opinion," Putin suggested. "People really value in [Russia] our stability and the possibility for normal development, for the certainty that their plans and hopes will not collapse due to the irresponsible aspirations of the latest revolutionaries."
Russia's 'Collective Immunity' to Extremism
Russia, Putin said, has achieved a form of "collective immunity" to extremism and socio-political collapse in the wake of the Soviet experience.
"Many remember the events of 30 years ago and how painful it was to get out of the hole our country and society were in after the collapse of the USSR," the president recalled, adding that Russia recognises the realities connected with those events even though many people in the ex-Soviet republics supported the country's preservation at the time.
"It is no coincidence that over 70 percent [of Soviet citizens] voted for the preservation of the union on the eve of its collapse," Putin said, referring to the March 1991 referendum. "Many people in the republics which gained independence truly sincerely regretted what took place. But today there is another reality, and we proceed from the the fact that it is developing as it is, and we in principle recognise modern realities."
Black Brush Approach to History
The president stressed that while the USSR faced problems, including issues which ultimately helped cause the country's collapse, it would be "incorrect, crude, and indecent" to paint the experience with one "black brush." "I know we have some who paint everything with a black brush. They are worthy only of themselves being dipped into a foul-smelling substance," Putin said.
"We have many grievances toward the leaders of the country from 1917 until the 1990s – this is obvious. But putting the Nazis and Communists side by side before the Second World War and dividing blame for the war 50/50 is absolutely unacceptable. This is a lie," the president said.
"I say this not only because I am a Russian person and the head of the Russian government - which is the successor of the Soviet Union. I say this as a researcher, I have read the documents. I have simply pulled these documents from the archives," he stressed.
"One can remember Stalin however one likes, for his camps, for the repressions, etc. But I saw the documents, his resolutions. Truly – the Soviet government fought to prevent the outbreak of World War 2," the president said, recalling the USSR's attempt to ensure the preservation of Czechoslovakia and its sovereignty, for example.
Putin said he was sympathetic to the position of Poland's leaders on events surrounding the eve of World War II: "But you took part in the partition of Czechoslovakia together with Germany, and now are trying to place the blame on the Soviet Union. This simply does not correspond to reality. Did the Soviet Union attack Germany? No! Yes, there were the secret agreements between Germany and the USSR. But Soviet troops entered Brest when German troops were already there. The Germans simply moved, and the Red Army entered."
Putin further recalled that it wasn't the Americans, the British or the French that entered Berlin in 1945, but the Red Army. "Did you forget this for a moment? It's easy to remember," the president suggested.