Blaming All Russians for Their Government’s Actions is Tribalist Scapegoating
The sanctions that the EU, North-america, and Australia has placed upon Russia have been various and plenty, yet there has been a particular sanction that reveals a shadow in the mindset of many westeners; the moral sanctions of all Russian people.
Some of these sanctions have included banning Russian contestants from the Paralympics, among other international events, and have also included bizarre bans on Russian litterature and art.
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Yet, what truly troubles me is the moral sanctioning of all Russian people, and the idea that every Russian person is directly accountable for their governments actions.
I mentioned that this reveals a shadow in our mindset, because by adopting this belief, we are holding Russian people to a standard that we would never hold ourselves to, while allowing our darker, tribalistic, rage-filled impulses to reign freely.
Through the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the proxy-warfare in Syria, along with a number of destabilisations of governments throughout South-america and Africa, the same governments which are sanctioning Russia, have caused the deaths of millions.
This doesn’t excuse any of Russia’s imperial actions, but it does mean that holding all Russians accountable for the current conflict in Ukraine, without simultaneously holding ourselves accountable for the actions of our governments, is nothing more than sheer hipocracy.
This hypocritical rage has manifested clearly in rather ridiculous events such as restaurant-owners pouring out Russian vodka, to more serious attempts at hurting Russian people through vandalisation or boy-cots of their businesses.
These actions are simply manifestations of a belief in moral superiority and self-righteousness; an excuse to scapegoat people who are as much to blame for their governments actions as you are for yours.
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What our susceptibility to this kind of behaviour shows is that we are not as advanced a species as our technological achievements have convinced us that we are. It reveals a proclivity towards black and white thinking, which not only lets us deflect from our own contribution to the conflict, but also allows us to fully embrace a primal rage towards anyone we consider part of the “other”.
It is a reminder that we as people can justify any action, as long as we tell ourselves that we are the good guy.