Tuesday, April 23, 2013
If this is what most US academic specialists on the Caucasus believe why wonder the US media is confused
I see that on Ann Little's blog that a commentator called Northern Barbarian claiming to have been teaching about the Caucasus for 20 years seems to be almost as confused as the US media. Among other things he claims that there is a Karbardino-Balkar people. No, there was a Karbardino-Balkar ASSR, but the Karbardians are Circassians and related to the Cherkess and the Balkars are Turkic and related to the Karachais. He also claims that the Germans occupied the North Caucasus during 1942-1944 and that the Soviets only retook the area in 1944. The Germans never occupied Chechnya proper and the Soviet Red Army had already recaptured the areas inhabited by the soon to be deported Karachais in 1943. In fact the mass deportations from the North Caucasus by the Soviet NKVD had already started in 1943 with the deportation of the Karachais on 2 November 1943. I don't expect the US news media to know that despite the existence of a Karbardino-Balkar ASSR in the USSR that the Karbardians and Balkars are separate and very distinct peoples who speak totally unrelated indigenous languages. But, if you claim to be a professor specializing in the history of the Caucasus and teaching classes about it for 20 years then such ignorance is completely inexcusable. How do people like this get tenure at US universities? For the record I do not claim to be an expert on the Caucasus. I only know enough to know that unlike Moshe Gammer, Walt Richmond, and Brian Williams I am not an expert. Claiming that there is a single Karbardino-Balkar people, however, is an error that no "expert" teaching the subject for 20 years should ever make.