“What, No ‘I, Too, Am A Russian Ambassador’?” Why Reactions To This Political Murder Are Different

By   /   December 22, 2016  /   27 Comments

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Something odd I’ve noticed: After an act of terrorism (or other highly publicized egregious act of politically motivated violence), we customarily have a hashtag or a display-pic filter showing solidarity with the victim – indeed, often going so semi-ludicrously far as to claim that we “ARE” the Victim. (I’m sure we all remember #JeSuisCharlie etc.)

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Something odd I’ve noticed: After an act of terrorism (or other highly publicized egregious act of politically motivated violence), we customarily have a hashtag or a display-pic filter showing solidarity with the victim – indeed, often going so semi-ludicrously far as to claim that we “ARE” the Victim. (I’m sure we all remember #JeSuisCharlie etc.)

And yet, in the wake of a Russian diplomat being fairly pulverizingly pistol-mortem’d at a photography exhibition … memes aside, I see nothing.

Why the difference? What’s at odds here? Perhaps it’s an artefact of power – a figure of state, rather than a comparatively minor magazine publisher. Maybe that’s why there’s a more overt lack the latter-day symbology of empathy here.

But I have another theory: it’s that the usual sorts who’d be bending their brains to generating the relevant flag-filters or attempting to come up with semi-witty hashtags aren’t doing so … because they do not like Russians. Because they’re implicitly on the side of anti-regime fighters in Aleppo (and therefore, as a side-point, implicitly on the ‘side’ of the off-duty policeman doing the shooting – although perhaps that isn’t quite relevant to their thought-considerations).

It’s a curious thing – where the lines of “all human life is sanctified’ end or are crossed for some people. They had no trouble ‘self-identifying’ with the publishers of an outright and avowedly Islamophobic magazine, yet it’s several bridges and the Bosporus too far to do likewise with a Russian diplomat who’s played a key role in brokering this weeks’ Aleppo evacuation ceasefire.

Either way. It’s time to stop pretending that the people coming up with these token gestures of social-media solidarity and popularizing them are doing so because they have an unbiased interest in “human life” or “anti-terror”.

Instead, – it is as it’s always been: just another way to show ‘solidarity’ with power, and the ‘right’ side of a narrative.

ADDENDUM: Since drafting this piece, I’ve become appraised of rather vitriolic commentary coming out of the United States about this incident. In specia, articles like this one which attempt to cast the shooter as a ‘hero’ (and, for that matter, the Russians as “Nazis”).

If this is, indeed, the dominant lense through which liberals are now choosing to view both these sad events and the broader Russian role in the Middle East all up … then it’s presumably pretty easy to explain why we’re not seeing the usual outpouring of social media sympathy nor solidarity for the aggrieved party.

It has long been said that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” (an aphorism which appears to have become daily, hourly reality when dealing with the well-armed implements of geopolitics in Syria).

My concern given the above-linked article is that a number of ‘liberal’ opinion-setters still annoyed about the combination of alleged Russian interference in the recent US Elections, and the ongoing ‘usurpation’ of the US’s role as liberal-intergovernmental ‘World Police … may start to get increasingly cavalier in their cautious enthusiasm for just exactly this sort of political violence.

Provided that the targets and the victims are Russians, of course. 

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27 Comments

  1. Olwyn says:

    An insightful piece of writing Curwen. A nascent thought along similar lines must have been in the back of my mind when I first heard the news, as my response to NZ diplomat Jonathan Curr’s tweet, “Tragic news of the assassination of my Russian colleague tonight. Condolences to his family, colleagues, loved ones, country. RIP Amb Karlov” was one of relief that it was kind, dignified and decent. I am so used to people kowtowing to the US version of liberalism that I half expect every public utterance to be an instance of it.

  2. Nick says:

    In politics everything is true and everything is false. Everything is desirable and everything anathema.

    It is all about context.

    This assassination is like Chelsea v Manchester City. I have no idea which side to support, so the sane approach is to stay out of it.

    Apart from saying assassination is no way to conduct politics – what sensible can we say? I, for one, have no idea what it was about. The political motivations of that region are Chinatown.

    In the case of Charlie Hebdo, the attack was not only on ordinary workers like the rest of us, it was an attack on a core tenet of Western civilisation.

    When the attack is on something fundamental to our way of life and value system, or perpetrated in our name, we should speak up.

    If not, silence is entirely appropriate.

  3. WILD KATIPO says:

    Yeah , your right , Curwen ,… one thought that crossed my mind was that man had a family too ,… it was an ugly act.

    As for the reason?… well… Turkey and Russia had a bit of strife not so long ago with Russia’s air-force in Turkeys airspace.

    Erdogan , among other things wants Turkey to be the head of a 10 nation pan Arabic caliphate – even though the Turks are not considered ‘ Arabs’ per se’ but are considered a Muslim nation by majority. The assassin probably wanted the same as well , and was incensed at Russian activity in Syria… which as it seems,… the Syrian govt currently is pro Russia to a point.

    Whereas Turkey seems to want to retain cordiality with the west , in particular Europe / Germany and of course the USA ( NATO etc) by association.

    That 10 nation caliphate will almost certainly happen in the future , as all indications are heading that way for some sort of resolution among the divided middle east. Turkey has a fearsome and state of the art military machine. And that will threaten Russia’s interests in the region.

    I would say it is a direct result of western media working in with geopolitical considerations that translates to a silence on the part of the liberal political fraternity , that there is the reason why he is just considered a ‘ Russian’ .

    Any doubt as to the power of western media and the propaganda we are fed is clearly answered by this interview of John Pilger.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6StL-AJLDwY

  4. Andrew says:

    Assassination: It’s one of the risks of being an Ambassador of a thug state.

    • D'Esterre says:

      Andrew: “Assassination: It’s one of the risks of being an Ambassador of a thug state.”

      Says he, whose own polity has cravenly made itself a tool of that great thug state, the US of A. And which has ambassadors worldwide: you’ll still say that when one of our ambassadors is assassinated by a zealot from one of those polities in which our troops or other representatives have behaved like thugs toward the local population?

  5. Helena says:

    The ambassador lived to tell the tale. It was a set up by Putin as an excuse to go after ISIS big time. It was all a bluff.

    • slippery slippery says:

      As If Russia wasn’t already?

    • D'Esterre says:

      Helena: “The ambassador lived to tell the tale. It was a set up by Putin as an excuse to go after ISIS big time. It was all a bluff.”

      Say what? Where on earth did you get that idea?

      • Helena says:

        Didn’t keep links earmarked. Will search. Amb did live after phony assassination but (and I can’t remember where this info is either), Mossad followed up and actually did kill the poor man. Will post link when found again.)

    • jim says:

      yup- total hoax. with all so called islamic terror, just put the word “hoax” at the end of it and watch the proof.

  6. CLEANGREEN says:

    Right on Curwen,

    Its time a oligarchy Corporate media stopped this phoney “cold war crap” as Russia was the only party who genuinely tried to calm the rising Arab wars.

    Of course the industrial war armament’s corporate oligarchy are going broke without another war they are trying to cause forb their profit but no-ones buying their bullshit any more

    • Andrew says:

      Russia isn’t calming anything.

      They just want to retain their hold on the naval base of Tartus – because it’s their only point of support for their Black Sea Fleet outside of the Dardanelles.

      This is also why they invaded the Crimea a couple of years back.

      Geography doesn’t change and the drivers in international conflict as the same as they were during the Crimean War and before.

      • mikesh says:

        Russia and Syria have had a long standing alliance, and Putin probably doesn’t want to see Assad overthrown and a US puppet government installed.He also thinks it’s better to fight ISIS in Syria rather than in Chechnya, or in the Ukraine, or even in Russia itself.

        Incidentally, you are mistaken, Andrew, about Russia invading Crimea. They didn’t.

      • D'Esterre says:

        Andrew: “This is also why they invaded the Crimea a couple of years back.”

        You’re wrong about this. There was no invasion of the Crimea by Russia a couple of years ago.

        Had you been following events at the time, you would know this.

  7. Iain Mclean says:

    Curwen;

    Helena is right: ” It was all a bluff.”

    I don’t pretend to know what the motive might be and who might be behind it at this stage but it is worth considering the article Martyn posted about CIA activity
    in our lifetime.
    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/12/19/for-those-hysterically-judging-russia-for-hacking-us-election-heres-a-list-of-all-the-governments-the-cia-have-overthrown-in-first-50-years/

    But what I am sure about is that this is more Fake News.

    I have spent 28yrs in the field of ‘agriculture animal
    husbandry.”

    1.With a shot to the back of the head, the body would
    not lie in that prone position.
    More forward and crumpled at least.

    2. Heads bleed profusely.
    We cannot see the head. No sign of blood. (we have a clear shot here and
    now we can clearly see no blood.)

    3. An animal when shot in the head is not motionless.
    The nervous system is in massive shock,the muscles are still
    full of ‘electrical’ energy (ATP from memory) so the
    muscles would be moving.(twiching/convulsing)

    4. TV1 news had a still camera shot that seemed framed like a Hollywood thriller.
    .ie The Ambassador off centre so as to see the shooter lurking behind.

    5. A movie camera was there (nicely positioned) because it moved to capture the shooter on TV1 news so why did we not see the panic and commotion that
    would have occurred. Only another still that seemed to capture people supposedly cowering.
    Did not look real.

    6. Where was the security while he was allowed to
    rant on? We did not see him apprehended?

    Like the boy ‘supposedly’ washed up on the Turkey’s
    beach. Lying in the wrong direction. Perpendicular to
    the waves (perfectly) not approx horizontally and random if it were naturally
    washed up.(nice clean clothes as well)
    or
    The numerous beheadings all lined up on the beach
    in a quite relaxed manner,not fearing for their lives.
    and
    The single ones you never get to see struggling.

    They all seem fake, un-natural and staged.

    And Putin seemed quite relaxed about it all as well.

    When MSM put these images up in a flash for
    maximum shock, unless you have recorded the clip,
    or go to the internet to slow down at 0.25 speed, you cannot possibly
    analyze properly. (If you do you will see no sudden movement of the head when
    the bullet supposedly strikes.)

    What I am suggesting is this is another False Flag.

    Staged,like many,for whatever political effect.
    And we have the many examples above in Martyn’s
    list.
    Destableisation is the main motive for many and all
    progressing an agenda for TPTB.

    No doubt we will find out in time.

    Trying to create meme about Alt-Media is fake news,
    I believe, will backfire on them tremendously.

    Cheers.

  8. I think you were more on the ball with your throwaway remark, Curwen;

    Why the difference? What’s at odds here? Perhaps it’s an artefact of power – a figure of state, rather than a comparatively minor magazine publisher. Maybe that’s why there’s a more overt lack the latter-day symbology of empathy here.

    You are quite correct, there were no sympthay memes for the Russian Ambassador.

    But neither was there an outpouring of sympathy memes or hashtagging for the US Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, killed in a terrorist attack in Libya in 2012. (There may have been a few – mostly highly critical of Secretary Clinton.)

    My own belief is that sympathy memes and hashtags are generated by those who are (predominantly) powerless, seeking to offer support to victims of violence who are also perceived as powerless.

    Those powerless victims can be at Charlie Hebdo or Palestinian children in Gaza.

    Ambassadors – as their nomenclature informs us – are representatives of State power. In the case of the US and Russia, two imperialistic super-powers (along with China and it’s imperial policies toward Tibet and Hong Kong) have had their representatives shot by people we view as “terrorists” – but others may view as freedom fighters.

    Israel and the West view Hamas as “terrorists”. But Palestinians elected Hamas to govern them, and view them as a liberating force. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/02/07/why-hamas-won/)

    It was not too long ago that Nelson Mandela and the ANC were viewed as “terrorists” by the west. Now Mandela is revered as a quasi-saintly figure in human history, and the ANC governs in South Africa as the democratically elected authority.

    Too often the term “terrorist” is a convenient label which, like the phrase “politically correct” offers more emotional meaning (and bias confirmation) rather than a careful analysis of why an event occurred.

    As such, Ambassadors are not seen as powerless victims of terrorism by meme-builders and hashtag writers. Quite the contrary, Ambassadors are seen as representatives of State power. They are the soft-spoken people we invite to polite dinner parties as they endeavour to legitimise whatever international plottings their respective governments may be up to.

    If anyone doubts this, let’s consider the manner in which the Israeli Ambassador was re-called from our country and the response from the Left.

    When the announcement was made that Ambassador Dr Itzhak Gerberg would be re-called, the Left erupted in joy – and that includes me, by the way. (http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/12/24/its-a-xmas-miracle-apartheid-israel-recalls-its-ambassador-from-nznz/)

    Not because Dr Gerberg is a bad man. I’ve no idea what kind of person he is, on a personal level.

    No, the departure of Dr Gerberg was cheered because of what he represents, not who he is.

    The same reason that the powerless view Ambassadors Karlov and Stevens as what they represent, not who they were, personally.