Thursday, May 12, 2022

The Brute Polak Stereotype and War in Ukraine: Former Estonian President Toomas Ilves Speaks Out


Toomas Ilves Source: Wikipedia 

In a recent interview with Klub Jagiellonski, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former president of Estonia, brought up what I have called the Bieganski, Brute Polak Stereotype. This stereotype, as my book makes clear, applies to all Eastern European, Christian-descent populations. We are all brutes, and Westerners who are invested in this stereotype condescend to us.


Some clips from the interview, below


"Recently 'westplaining' has become a very fashionable term. It concerns the problem of patronizing the Eastern European states by Western politicians. Anne Applebaum stated that 'American and European leaders' profound lack of imagination has brought the world to the brink of war'. Will the Russian invasion of Ukraine change the attitude of looking at Eastern policy through the Western prism?"


"For me, westplaining is mostly germansplaining and the shock of the February 24th invasion was enough to lead chancellor Scholz to revise 50 years of Ostpolitik. We could also see that the German president Steinmeier has announced his regrets on his position. I think that, until now, there has been a general inclination to always believe the Russians and to look down on and disregard the views of the countries who have experience in dealing with Russia.


I was saying for years that there is an anti-empirical bias among West Europeans and Americans. You have experience with Russia and instead of listening to your experience, they write you off as being biased. That willingness to believe a Russian narrative always before an Eastern European narrative is something that we have had to deal with for a long time.


Sometimes it comes up in really obnoxious ways. Last year's defense of building Nord Stream II on the part of Steinmeier for example. He basically said that Germans owe it to the Russians because of all of the suffering they inflicted upon them, forgetting about the fact that far more people, not only proportionally but even in absolute numbers, suffered in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine than suffered in Russia." …


"To borrow from Edward Said's famous book, it is a case of orientalism. The only people left in the world toward whom it is politically correct to act like a racist are Eastern Europeans. You cannot do it toward Russians because then you are Russophobic.


There is a book by Robert Kaplan, 'Balkan Ghosts'. He writes there about 'primitive tribal hatreds' of the Eastern Europeans. What could be more racist than that? It is just like during a massive cyber-attack against Estonia in 2007. We went to NATO to talk about it, and the response was 'you are just being Russophobic'. And that is from countries all far less advanced digitally than we are. None of these people had a clue about anything digital. Will we see a change in 30 years of this smug, patronising behaviour? It's too early to tell." …


"My position on the following is: no easing up on sanctions until Russia has paid for the damages of what was done to Ukraine. We can get $200 billion from the seized or frozen assets by the West, but it will not be enough. Ukraine needs around $700 billion to be rebuilt. Russia also has to pay the reparations for the killings and for the injuries that have been done.


The other requirement must be that all of the people responsible, from the lowest to the highest, have to go to court. From the corporal who shoots and rapes people in Bucha to the people who write articles in the state media saying we have to eliminate the Ukrainian people. They say the same things about Poles and Estonians. The lies they said about Poland regarding the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact are utterly ridiculous, but this is what we face." …


"I have taken a family of two refugees to my farm and the bureaucracy has worked amazingly well. I got them their ID numbers so they will get digital identities and I took care of the formalities to open a bank account for them. I have also driven them to get the older woman registered for her pension, and to put the younger Ukrainian refugee's CV on the unemployment list so she can get a job.


On the part of civil society, Estonians are donating everything. Many people have given their houses, apartments and furniture, while more wealthy Estonians are buying up four-by-four cars to send to the territorial defense units in Ukraine. One guy even bought 35 ambulances on his own!


The same thing is happening in Latvia as well. I think it goes back to the issue of experience. None of this that we see today is new to us. We have lived through it. You have lived through it. There is no need for me to teach Poles about your own history, though there is a need for all of us to teach Western Europe about our own history." …


"We, as well as Poles, Latvians and Lithuanians, know what the Russians do. I do not think Estonians were really surprised by Bucha because we have similar experiences. It is no less horrifying, but when we see it, we know they could do that because they did that to us as well." ...


Thank you Jerzy for sending this in. 

1 comment:

  1. I do not know Tulsi nor Tucker.


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