Sunday, January 05, 2014

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Racism in the USSR

Ta-Nehisi Coates often writes about issues of race in the US for The Atlantic. He isn't an academic and I mean that as a compliment. He has far too much common sense and real world experience. The man, however, is smart and a very good writer. His latest article deals with the topic of racism in the USSR under Stalin. Here is the money quotation:

The Soviet Union pitched itself in opposition to the racism of Nazi Germany, and even America. There's a Stalin-era film, which I'm dying to see, in which the American heroine gives birth to a black child and finds peace in the Soviet Union. But it is hard not to look at Ukraine, or look at dekulakization, or look at the Polish operation, or the Latvian operation, and not see--if not racism--a lethal ethnic bias.

This position which he draws primarily from his reading of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands shows clearly how common sense trumps the academic training of US "scholars" almost all of whom claim there was no racism in these acts because the Soviet regime used the word natsional'nost instead of race.

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