The Guardian’s tacit support for the neo-Nazis in Ukraine is necessary to maintain the fundamental Western narrative that the Russians are the principal cause of the Ukrainian crisis.
March 9, 2015
Given the Twitter storm and commentary like the one I penned about the Guardian’s sympathetic potrayal of female members of the far-right Aidar Battalion, it would seem that the Guardian – an allegedly liberal outlet – would have understood what the criticism was about.
One change it made was to quietly make a material change to one of the captions of a photo that featured a female Aidar member, Anaconda [sic], a 19 year old “baby faced” female member in front of a van spouting two neo-Nazi paraphernalia, “1488” and the insignia of the 36th Waffen SS Division. The caption change acknowledged 1488 as an anti-Semitic symbol, but did not mention the 36th’s SS insignia.
The 36th ranks among the more notorious of the SS battalions including sickening atrocities such as the ones below which even ISIS might balk at.
Yet among the 1219 comments to the article the one that the Guardian chooses as its pick is the one below.
What the Guardian Is Implying
The Guardian by choosing the above reader’s comment, implies that just stating the views of the Aidar Battalion is not endorsement. After all one has to hear all viewpoints and it’s just being scrupulously non-judgmental.
EXCEPT that the Guardian is not giving their viewpoints as to why they adhere to such extremist philosophy, but interviewing these six women about their daily life as if these were just everyday people thrust into a war situation.
Thus Anaconda is not asked whether she understands the significance of the racist symbols she proudly stands in front of. She’s not asked whether at 19, she endorses the neo-Nazi philosophy and why. These questions do not have to accusative: they can be merely a chance to give her point of view.
Instead, what the reader learns about Anaconda is that her mother worries about her, her father is proud of her, and her rationale for joining the volunteer group as essentially a call to her conscience.
The portrayal of Anaconda in other words is wholly sympathetic. Here’s a brave young baby-faced teenager moved to take up arms to fight for “her country”.
She reports that “the men treat her well” because heavens forbid the Aidar Battalion turns out be sexist.
And this sentiment found its way to the original caption of her standing in front the van:
Coverage of Aidar at Odds with Neo-Nazi Coverage Elsewhere
Perhaps the Guardian is just trying to go easy on Neo-Nazis in general and show a more “human” side?
No, earlier today a report by the Guardian’s Louise Osborne on a German mayor who resigned rather than deal with neo-Nazis permitted to demonstrate outside his house was wholly sympathetic to the mayor.
There is no comment sought from the neo-Nazis on anything.
Coverage Aligns with General Western Media Sympathy
These neo-Nazis battalions are not just fighting alongside the Ukrainian army, but are indeed CRUCIAL to the effort as the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany made clear on German TV.
While the Guardian previously acknowledged the criticality of these “volunteer” battalions (even while highlighting their dangers as a sort of insurance when things go south) the overall Western media sentiments ranges from ignoring their idealogy (New York Times) to excusing their symbols like swastikas as “romantic” (Washington Post). Some large Canadian dailies, the Globe and Mail, the Torontol Star have gone so far as to extol their fundraising abilities.
Coverage fundamentally supports Western Narrative on Ukraine
This tacit (if not overt) support for neo-Nazis is a thread that reverberates from the change in Government in Ukraine: the Western narrative is that the day after the February 21st, 2014 signing of a transition deal between Yanukovych and the three main opposition leaders, witnessed and signed by German, French, Polish and Russian foreign ministers, Yanukovych fled the country of his own accord.
That the fleeing coincided with the threats against his life made by the Right Sector that night, in the midst of violence led by them, the evidence that much of the sniper firing was instigated by some extremist anti-Yanukovych elements (now only gaining some respectability among Western media circles with the BBC doing an “expose” earlier last month), was all suppressed or ignored with lofty talks of “freedom” and “democracy” for Ukraine.
That a large swath of the country which even the Washington Post in 2013 agreed was heavily split between Ukrainian nationalists and ethnic Russians, would see the Right Sector’s and other neo-Nazi’s prominence as indicative of resurgent nationalism, was pooh-poohed as indicative of Russian propaganda causing hysteria and not what anyone with a pair of eyes and ears could see and hear. Nationalist forces seeking to impose their world view on a part of the country that was not for the maidan; “volunteers” openly flouting symbols of the very worst and gruesome of Nazis, and talking in gusto about killing Russians.
And the Western narrative continued on by ignoring the very visible and open sentiments of the Eastern regions voting in referendums against the authority of the nationalists in Kiev.
Thus Western media outlets supposedly against Nazism and for democracy has been caught patently being FOR Nazis and AGAINST the popular will of the people in distinctly separate regions in Ukraine.
Which brings us back to how a so-called liberal outlet like the Guardian caught between its professed disgust of neo-Nazis and its instinctive Russophobia in alignment with the U.S./UK Government, decided to take the well worn path.