Staunton, August 30 – Оne must be “politically correct and respect everyone’s opinion, but one must not allow a minority too dictate to the majority its rules, as the Tatars are seeking to do regarding a holiday on the defeat of the Mongol Horde, Petr Akopov argues in a Vzglyad article entitled “How Dangerous is the Battle Against the Holiday of the Halt on the Ugra.“
If Russia defers to the objections of the Tatars, there is a very real danger that “the situation in Russia will become like that in the United States where for the sake of the dictatorship of political correctness memorials to Southern generals of the period of the Civil War are pulled down,” the commentator says (vz.ru/society/2019/8/30/995065.html).
According to Akopov, the tearing down of such statues “in the strongest way is provoking and intensifying the most varied contradictions within society both racial and ideological,” because it is being done to blame the whites for all the problems of the blacks, even though tearing down of these statues doesn’t help either but only harms “all-American identity.”
“Russia became a great power precisely because it went along its own path, preserving all the peoples who have been included within our land,” he continues. “We don’t need to correct our history lest we offend someone. The very existence of Russia and the peoples included in it became possible because we have preserved the memory of our victories and defeats.”
This is Akopov’s reaction to the objections of Tatar scholars and officials to making November 11 a holiday marking the anniversary of “the stand on the Ugra” which Russians have come to view as marking the end of the Mongol Yoke. (Оn Tatar objections, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/08/proposed-holiday-marking-end-of-mongol.html.)
But his argument is broader than just a response to Tatar suggestions that such a holiday will exacerbate ethnic tensions in Russia. It is a complaint that political correctness has stripped Russian textbooks of references to “the Tatar-Mongol Yoke” and it is a call for a majoritarian approach to all issues regardless of their impact n minorities.
“All of [Russia’s] regions are for this holiday: only Tatarstan is against,” the Moscow commentator says, even though the backers of the proposal have gone out of their way to avoid offending the Tatars. No small minority must have the power to block Russians from “celebrating one of the most important events of Russian history.”
Akopov concedes that there are real debates on just how important the events of November 11, 1480 in fact were. “It isn’t in fact now so important” what actually occurred on that date. “What is important is what this date has become for Russian national self-consciousness” – “one of the chief examples of the defense of the Motherland from enemies.”
Many years ago, even before the collapse of the USSR, the author of these lines gave a talk at Georgetown University entitled “Russians as White Southerners,” arguing that Russian regionalists and nationalists in the RSFSR of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s were developing many of the themes that American southern agrarians had in such works as I’ll Take My Stand (1930).
Akopov’s article now is evidence that such a tradition is alive and well among some in Russia today and that attitudes like his regarding minorities and the celebration of one aspect of the past above all others represent “the real danger” from the holiday he supports rather than emanating from objections to it.