First, a Russian racist mocked Timbaland’s talents after he turned their star into an international force to be reckoned with. Now, in an under-reported altercation, one of Beyonce’s dancers, identified only by his first name Cliff, was attacked at a restaurant on Tverskaya after being subjected to racial slurs. The incident took place just after the victory of Russia’s football team over England. Apparently, a drunk Russian took Cliff for an England fan and began to ridicule his supposed country and skin color. According to his interview in Tvoi den’, Cliff didn’t stand for it [back-translation alert!]:
“I couldn’t tolerate such offensive words and decided to sort out [razobrat’sia] the situation…But I didn’t manage to get a word in before I got punched in the face.”Before we start thinking that all Russians are raving racists, the thread on this incident at the Russian-language fan site InDaRnB reveals a fascinating discussion on what the attack on Cliff tells us about racial politics here [possibly bad translations marked by question marks, feedback welcome]:
[The last phrase is actually, “ народ наслушается и идет «мочить в сортире» всех, кто посмуглее.” It’s hard to exactly translate this sentence due to its grammatical construction and its reference to Putin’s famous jingoistic utterance about getting the terrorists, “если в туалете поймаем, то и в сортире их замочим.” (“If we catch them in the toilet, then we’ll soak them [criminal slang for killing] in the latrine.”)]
mib: That’s it, Beyonce is never coming to Moscow again. For real, these football fans are goats. [Note: that sounds harsher in Russian.]
Tania Mega-Popa: Fu, I hate these fans. They don’t have one gram of brains. It’s not just Beyonce who won’t come to us anymore, but many more. It’s shameful.
Anka Afrika: Rasiia [Расия, a play on Russia] comes from the word racism [расизм]…it’s sad. When they are killing a simple student, everyone ignores it, but it’s big news when they put a dent in [помяли] Beyonce’s dancer.
In Da Club: Anka Afrika, I completely understand, but don't you dare write that “Rasiia” comes from the word “racism.”
Irreplaceable: Rasiia!!! It’s shameful!!! Terrible! How can it be?! I don’t get how racism developed so forcefully among us in our country? In other countries, everything is civilized, nobody looks sideways at people of other races. We have such savages here (I’m not talking about everyone). I myself have an Asiatic appearance and local idiots [удоты?] taunt me with their hard stares. I should head off to Europe to get away! These fools ruined Beyonce’s opinion of us.
Vladimir: [In response to Irreplaceable] You have too low of an opinion of Russia. Racism is present everywhere and among us no more so than in America.
Li Key: Yeah, what's there to say. I think that it doesn’t depend on the country, but on the up-raising. Everywhere has its defectives, though it looks like we have a larger share… I feel bad for the dude.
Irreplaceable: But in America, they’d severely punish such an attack [дибильство?]! Here everyone ignores it. Where are the authorities looking?
Anka Afrika: In Da Club: Tell me WHAT do you understand? Two of my friends were killed at the hands of skinheads. It’s easy to blame everything on “football fans,” “thugs” [гопники] and so on, but it’s all part of the State’s policies, when everyone goes on about “Ours” [наши] and “Not Ours,” “Walking Together” and “Walking Alone in the Woods” [идущие лесом?] and other
such things. It’s disgusting to hear this nationalist [великодержавний] diarrhea on the television. The people get an earful and go about killing everyone on the swarthier side.
So there’s some insight on how Russians are thinking about racial politics in one corner of the blogosphere.
There’s also some news from another corner, over at Global Voices Online, where Veronica Khokhlova has posted on an interesting thread in the Russian-language livejournal (ЖЖ) community on James Watson’s racist commentary of last week. I was struck by how familiar the conversation seemed—the problems of political correctness, the reality/illusion of racial difference, the semi-moronic use of anecdotal evidence, and desperate pleas for common sense. The nuances and background are Russian, to be sure, but really the substance of this debate could just as easily be anywhere in North America or Europe, I think.
I’ll forego commentary for now (even on someone calling herself Tania Mega-Popa!). That translation took enough time and I’ve got other things to do. What do you all make of this? (And is it all a conspiracy to launch Putin's rap career? That's the style, right? First, you get rid of the opposition...)