Staunton, September 27 – For centuries, Russians referred to almost all foreigners as “Nemtsy, because their ignorance of Russian rendered them mute,” translator Sergey Kozin says; and today, they often speak of “Amerikantsy” whenever they are talking about a foreigner they think embodies “threats and homosexuality.”
In support of his argument, Kozin points to a scene in the 1997 movie Brat in which a Russian tells a Frenchman that “all your America is shit, and your American music is shit too,” an apparent confusion that reflects the fact that “Amerikantsy” now occupy the role of “Nemtsy” in the past (thequestion.ru/questions/38276/pochemu-mnogie-russkie-tak-ne-lyubyat-ssha).
“This great honor fell to the Americans for understandable reasons,” he continues. “During all the same of the Cold War, America was considered our main potential enemy. The 1990s and ‘the reset’ did little to dispel this reflex which had been in place for decades;” and now that tensions have returned, Russians have returned to this custom.
But there is “an important positive aspect” of this: for Russians, their enemy is almost always “faceless. It is much easier to hate all Amerikantsy (that is, foreigners) than any one in particular. And consequently, Russians are sympathetic to any individual American if he is a normal person.”
“In the final analysis, Kozin says, Russians know that that Amerikanets “isn’t guilty that he was born not where he should have been. Simply things didn’t work out.” And that in turn opens the way for a new attitude toward them if the situation changes.