The reportage of the Ukrainian refugee crisis has unearthed some ugly truths that are worth discussing.
Accidentally saying the quiet part out loud
Here’s CBS News’ Charlie D’Agata reporting from Ukraine at the start of the Russian invasion:
Here’s how he described Ukraine:
“…a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.”
It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: What the hell would he have said if he wasn’t choosing his words carefully?
You don’t really need to wonder, as NBC News’ Kelly Cobiella eagerly said the quiet part out loud:
Here’s what she said:
“…just to put it bluntly, these are not refugees from Syria; these are refugees from neighboring Ukraine. Quite frankly, it is part of it. These are Christians, they’re white, they’re very similar to people who live in Poland [where she was reporting from]…”
She’s not even falling back on the weasel-word phrase “Judeo-Christian” — just Christian. She doesn’t sound all that different from Republican candidate Lauren Witzke, who identifies with the Christian values of Ukraine’s neighbor’s leader:
Here’s Lauren Witzke, the GOP’s 2020 Senate candidate in Delaware, heaping praise on Putin for taking care of his people.
“I identify more with Putin’s Christian values than I do with Joe Biden.” pic.twitter.com/6ldCD2vukm
— Ed Greenberger (@EdGreenberger) February 24, 2022
And if you think that she showed a certain ugly bias, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Here’s Ukrainian politician David Sakvarelidze on the crisis:
In the interview, he called the current crisis very emotional because it involves…
“…European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed…”
Quick aside on Europe as a continent
The idea of Europe as a continent is a social construction, not a geophysical reality. Just so you know.
It’s been noticed
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the folks at Gravitas, a news show presented by WION, a New Delhi-based English language news channel whose name is short for “World Is One Network”:
Rebel HQ (part of TYT) has these observations:
One of my favorite journalists, Medhi Hasan, had a conversation with Ayman Mohyeldin about this matter:
This is a civilized city!
They’re blue-eyed and blond-haired!
This is Europe, not the Third World!
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) February 28, 2022
…and let’s not forget The Daily Show, whose host Trevor Noah grew up in South Africa and knows a thing or two about how some people see that more melanin means less value as a human being:
First Coast News have also noticed the difference in treatment when the refugees are white:
We can chew gum and walk at the same time
Because there’s always someone who will counter these observations with the rebuttal that this is not the time to bring up this discussions as there are Ukrainians who may no longer have homes.
I will respond by borrowing a line from the soldiers on Ukraine’s Snake Island…
Privileged person: Go fuck yourself.
We can chew gum and walk at the same time. It is possible to stand with displaced people from Ukraine and stand with displaced people who aren’t blonde-haired and blue-eyed.
The fact that you can’t treat these groups with the same level of dignity speaks volumes.