It's been a difficult couple of weeks in the online journalism biz as various forces strive to "control the narrative" on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. I don't currently have any friends or colleagues in Ukraine, but I certainly have many in Poland, and of course I also know Poles whose families were forced to flee/leave what is now Ukrainian territory during or after the Second World War. This means that I have heard many different opinions by Poles about Ukraine, Ukrainians, and the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Some are shelving painful family histories and political opinions to do what they can to help their fellow man.
I have also heard testimony by Polish-speakers about the current Russia invasion because I volunteered to transcript interviews done by colleagues who went to the Polish-Ukrainian border. This was hard, challenging work, but the kind of rewarding work you sacrifice one of your paid vacation days to do, so you can't be told to do something else. It was also humbling work, for I had to ask for help.
Yesterday--which I took off as a vacation day---I prioritised a Polish bishop's slow, measured, sensible talk about the Polish Church's response to the war, which (despite his office) was a mistake, for the real story was the harrowing flight of a Polish priest who went careening off to the border with three parishioners in his car. He spoke very, very quickly, and at great length, and was probably still in shock. He thinks if Putin isn't stopped, he will annex Poland and the rest of Europe.
One reason I was so committed to doing those transcripts--a heart-breaking amount of time, and a 5 AM waking with a sore arm, for a few precious minutes of video--was the most recent letter signed by Archbishop Vigano. I do not know if Vigano wrote his letter himself; I doubt it. I doubt any Italian Catholic bishop would talk about Moscow as "the third Rome." People complain about Pope Francis' stance towards Catholics in China; well, religious freedom for Catholics in Russia is not fantabulous, thanks to the cozy relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin.
Other people have taken other phrases of Vigano's Ukraine letter to gawk at--the phrase about Ukrainians in kippahs was certainly very embarrassing--but what blew the top off my head was the suggestion that Poland and other European countries were "annexed" by NATO, as if they did not love becoming part of NATO. Poland considers itself a thoroughly western country: just try referring to it as "Eastern Europe" to a Pole.
As for American conservative distaste for Zelensky, Ronald Reagan was also from the entertainment world, and American conservatives all seem to have shrines to him in their hearts. I don't really have an opinion of Zelensky, as I haven't had enough time to amass enough information. It's too bad he said Justin Trudeau was one of his inspirations for getting into politics, for it sounds as if he thought, "Wow, I'm also famous, good-looking, and in theatre! Why not go for it?" And Justin Trudeau is---for I do have an opinion on this one--probably the worst Canadian prime minister in history.
However, as an irate Pole told me yesterday, now is not the time to be rubbishing Zelensky, not with bombs raining down on Ukraine, and over a million Ukrainian refugees flowing across the borders to Moldavia, Romania, Hungary, and Poland. The irate Pole was literally handing out sandwiches to refugees yesterday and watching them queue up outside soup kitchens.
A Toronto acquaintance --a devout traditional Catholic in Toronto--has posted "Not My War" on Facebook, and I was shocked until I realised that this is not coldness to Ukrainians as much as it is a rejection of mainstream media and the news cycle that has suddenly dropped COVID. However, it might also be the result of a narrative--not unknown to alt media--that Zelensky is a New World Order/World Economic Forum/You'll-own-nothing-and-be-happy stooge. My response is that it would be unkind of Americans to turn up their nose at the egregious Emmanuel Macron if Canada started bombing the hell out of Saint Pierre-Miquelon. (It's off the coast of Newfoundland, and who knows how many "bio labs" Fauci may have placed on it?)
Anyway, that's enough from me because my arm is really hurting.