PeaceVoice: Replacement theory a matter of projection

The psychological phenomenon known as projection is nowhere as glaring as with white nationalists, most of whom are direct descendants of people who invaded and occupied someone else’s land, replacing the original residents.

Projecting onto refugees the idea that they would do what white nationalists have already done is a sad but predictable social psychological condition.

The “replacement” affinity between autocrat Vladimir Putin and wannabe autocrat Donald Trump, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Germany, is particularly fascinating — in a horror movie sort of way.

Where Trump followers rage about their Great Replacement conspiracy, Putin makes a habit out of imposing it in his attempt to resurrect the old Russian Empire.

He is following the normal Russian Empire pattern — replace the original culture with Russian language, culture and “history.” That was how it worked during the Czarist era, then the Soviet era.

The Bolsheviks overthrew the czar, but instead of ending the empire, they radically expanded it by creating the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Then, true to Russian imperial form, set out to Russify them.

The Russians in control of the Soviet empire sent Russian settlers into Ukraine, the Baltic states and into pretty much all central Asian and Baltic Soviet republics.

That is why there are so many Russian speakers in Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Ukraine and Lithuania today. They were settlers dispatched to Russify — to turn erstwhile sovereign nations into part of Russia, obliterating as much of the original identities as possible.

Of course, this preceded Putin. In fact, it even preceded the Soviet Union.

During and after the Russian Empire, which ran from 1721 to 1917, all manner of imperial shenanigans fit the Russification template. When, for example, Finland was subsumed into the Russian Empire, the goal was to erase the Finnish language and replace it with Russian, an effort that intensified in the opening years of the 20th century.

But even before Gandhi began his nonviolent campaigns, Finns resisted Russification with nonviolence, including a general strike, and succeeded. Encyclopedia Britannica concludes: “Thus, from having one of Europe’s most unrepresentative political systems, Finland had, at one stroke, acquired the most modern.”

Cultural appropriation has been the story in Ukraine all along. It’s been around as long as imperialism and colonialism.

So the irony of Trump’s fawning support of the dictatorial Putin, coupled with the fright demonstrated by Trump’s MAGA supporters when they clamor to shut down all immigration by people of color, is stark. Even if their white ancestors of arrived in the U.S. long after its native tribes were all forced onto reservations, the long attempts at “Americanizing” tribal people continued.

Losing the land is just one step in the sequence of the notorious assimilation of indigenous peoples in the U.S. In 1892, Capt. Richard Henry Pratt described the intent of “Indian education” as attempting to “kill the Indian in him and save the man.”

How ironic that Putin is overseeing the kidnapping of Ukrainian children in order to Russify them. He wants to kill the Ukrainian in these children and save them as Russians, and he is clearly imposing his will on both Trump and those who follow Trump.

The far right members of Congress — MAGA adherents to a one — do not oppose the military or military violence at all. But they are helping Putin by opposing U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Putin is stealing Ukrainian children to Russify them and the Freedom Caucus supports him. Isn’t that something?

There is a warrant out on Putin for his arrest by Interpol — an extraordinary measure — expressly for snatching Ukrainian children. Yet U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan and his ilk support Putin by denying aid to Ukraine.

Let’s see these people for who they are — enemies of freedom and foes of democracy.

Tom Hastings coordinates conflict resolution degree and certificate programs at Portland State University. He also serves as senior editor at PeaceVoice, where this contribution originated.


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