The more things change..... This was published in my column "The Things We Do" in The Ukrainian Weekly August 19, 2007. Five years ago, and what has changed?
They taught them well. Over the centuries of the Russian tsarist empire, and especially during the 70 years of the Soviet empire, they taught them very well, indeed. Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyrics for the musical “South Pacific” (music by Richard Rodgers) in 1949. In the musical, this song is about an inter-racial romance, with Lt. Cable expressing his frustration at being uncomfortable over loving a Polynesian girl: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year. It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late – before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate. You’ve got to be carefully taught!”
In the case of present-day Ukraine, it is not hating another group or race that is the problem.
It is self-hate – hating yourself and all your own – your nation, your culture, your language. For patriotic Ukrainians, such people are “yanychary” – or “yanuchary” (supporters of Yanukovych and others). These are the contemporary equivalent of the Janissaries (yanychary in Ukrainian). The young boys captured during the Tatar and Turkish raids and invasions of Ukraine in the 15th-17th centuries were brought up to forget their past and to become loyal Turkish soldiers. They were indoctrinated to forget and to turn against their own, because later, as soldiers, they returned to Ukraine as raiders, repeating the cycle. The yanychary today are those Ukrainians raised or educated to think that anything Ukrainian is second-class, and not as “prestigious” as Russian. They are the ones who speak Russian rather than Ukrainian, who pull for closer ties with Russia and consider Ukrainian as just not cool. To them, even though they are home in their own land, they are enemies to everything Ukrainian. Ukraine is a convenient place, not a homeland.