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The Best in Us and the Worst in Us

The outpouring of support for Ukraine and for strong sanctions against Russia is heartening. Some of it is performative as people take to the Twit-o-sphere and other social media with inane memes and vapid clichés. The best though is genuine and deeply felt.

The best in us is accompanied by the sadly human with reports of hostility, vandalism, and threats directed at Russian speakers and businesses and of Russian children bullied at school. Restaurants appear to be prime targets.

A Russian restaurant in San Diego has received 1-star reviews online, charges that it supports the invasion of Ukraine, and threats to blow it up. The owner says that half his employees are Ukrainian. He has donated money to the Ukrainian cause and given money to employees to send to their parents in Ukraine (Brewer, Villegas, As Ukraine war intensifies).

Bungleheads who go in for this garbage are of kindred spirit with bungleheads who disrupt school board meetings and threaten violence against school board members and election officials. It is not unreasonable to suspect that they are some of the same bungleheads. Their actions are disgraceful.

Senator Lindsey Graham from my ancestral homeland of South Carolina is a professional bootlicker who appears to have become completely unhinged. A senior member of the Republican caucus in the US Senate, Graham has called for the assassination of Putin. I would shed no tears for the tyrant if he were to be, as the saying goes, terminated with extreme prejudice, but even the weasel Ted Cruz and hothead Marjorie Taylor Greene pushed back on the call for assassination. Greene, of all people, tweeted, "This is irresponsible, dangerous & unhinged. We need leaders with calm minds & steady wisdom. Not blood thirsty warmongering politicians trying to tweet tough by demanding assassinations." She is right.

It would not require an act of statesmanship to acknowledge the courage of thousands of Russians in cities across their country who have taken to the streets to protest the war at great personal risk. Rather than applaud and encourage their efforts, Graham called on them to "step up to the plate," presumably to overthrow the tyrant, or face "darkness for the rest of your life" and "abject poverty."

The solon from SC is also among Republicans attempting to make political hay out of the crisis by asserting that it would never have happened on Trump's watch and happened now because Putin knows Biden is weak. This line is refuted by John Bolton, who served as Trump's national security adviser and has never been mistaken for anything other than a hawk on foreign policy. According to Bolton, and this is entirely plausible, Trump barely knew where Ukraine was and far from deterring Putin made it easier for him to invade Ukraine by spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 election (TuAhn Dam, Bolton says Trump made it "that much easier" for Putin to invade Ukraine, Axios, March 1, 2022).

Graham once enjoyed a reputation as an amiable moderate by Republican standards. He has now gone so far off the rails that one might wonder if that was an illusion, if he was ever fully hinged.

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