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James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening at Alumni Hall.
Turning Point speaker James Lindsay criticizes ‘queer theory,’ draws protest
By Briana Bindus and Khushi Rai 9:17 am

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James Lindsay speaks at an event hosted by Turning Point USA at Pitt on Tuesday evening at Alumni Hall.
Turning Point speaker James Lindsay criticizes ‘queer theory,’ draws protest
By Briana Bindus and Khushi Rai 9:17 am

Opinion | Neo-nazism and hypocrisy in Ukrainian resistance can no longer go ignored

Yaroslav+Hunka%2C+right%2C+waits+for+the+arrival+of+Ukrainian+President+Volodymyr+Zelenskyy+in+the+House+of+Commons+in+Ottawa%2C+Ontario%2C+Friday%2C+Sept.+22%2C+2023.
Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP, File
Yaroslav Hunka, right, waits for the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.

The Canadian parliament, on Sept. 22, under the watchful eye of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, honored a Nazi. 

Yaroslav Hunka, 98, was part of a volunteer unit of the SS, the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division, whose violations of human rights were extensive and well documented. The parliament and the visiting Ukrainian delegation applauded him raucously, calling him a “war hero.” 

The Speaker of the House, Anthony Rota, has already apologized, and taken full responsibility, alleging that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Zelenskyy somehow had no knowledge of the specifics of the situation. Rota has since stepped down. This incident is already prepped to fade soundlessly into memory, already deemed irrelevant. 

This is simply the latest iteration of a precise and dedicated rewriting of 20th-century history as it pertains to the conflict in Ukraine. In countries like the U.S. and Canada, which have sent more than $75 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively, to finance the war, the deviation from the historical account is deeply concerning. Canada has several memorials to the 14th Waffen Division, referred to simply as “the 1st Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army.”

Over 1 million Ukrainian Jews were murdered by the SS. The complete death toll of the Ukrainian Roma genocide is still unknown — it’s approximated that the Nazis killed anywhere from 20,000 to 72,000 Roma in Ukraine. We may never know the full extent of the Nazis’ brutality because their desecration of lives was so complete and total. All of these facts are apparently actively obfuscated when the North American imperial powers behave this way.

While I doubt that anyone would look at the American education system and expect it to produce generations of anything but fanatically racist politicians who serve only the interests of fellow warmongers, the hypocrisy and denial of history we are watching unfold is unprecedentedly alarming. To conflate the Russian state of today with the Soviet Union is rhetoric so deeply inaccurate that it’s a wonder it didn’t come directly from Ronald Reagan’s corpse.

Criticisms of Russia’s treatment of Ukraine, while warranted, lose their significance and logic entirely when you regurgitate propaganda about the Soviets’ battles with “the Ukrainians.” Firstly, the “Russias” you are referring to are different states and secondly, the people fighting against the Soviets, if you’ll recall, were literal Nazis. 

The attempt to celebrate the “Ukrainian resistance of the past” by celebrating Ukrainian Nazis that fought to exterminate Jews and Roma, and not the 7 million Ukrainian soldiers that fought for the Red Army and incurred the most significant losses, is a horrific misconstruction of history. It is a form of Holocaust denial, the most prevalent and well-disguised attempt at it in our present. The overwhelming support for the financing of the war, while the US leaves millions to starve, to freeze, while it racks up student debt and rent increases, is not a testament to the purposeful empathy of this country or the EU and aligned nations. 

Make no mistake about it the US, Canada, the UK and the countries in the EU are a series of paid mourners, performing grief and empathy when it suits their economic and geopolitical interests. They do not care about the memory of Holocaust victims, both because they did not care enough to intervene or stop participating in the Holocaust when it was occurring, and because they do not care about the current conditions marginalized groups face. They did not care about Jews, Roma, LGBTQ+ people or poor people during the Second World War, during the years that led up to it or the decades that succeeded it, and they do not care about them now. The financial support for Ukraine is not about protecting their civilians from the Russian military it is about the economic benefits of war, and the West’s unending desire to defeat “Russia” as a concept, regardless of what form the state takes. 

Through this “aid” the US funds the Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia that received marginal attention at the start of the war, when many members of the international Jewish community and other concerned spectators noticed that the majority of their members wear Nazi symbols and paraphernalia on their uniforms. There are roughly 900 members of the Azov regiment, all of whom are volunteers. Before the war they were known to violently attack migrant and minority groups, targeting Roma in allegiance with the neo-Nazi Social National Assembly (SNA) also initiated by their founding member, Andriy Biletsky. 

In 2010, Biletsky said the central national mission of Ukraine was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen.” “Untermenschen” is a Nazi-coined term, referring to the “subhuman” non-Aryans in particular, Jews, Roma, Slavs and communists. This is what the US condones, seemingly implying, on the rare occasion in which they are confronted with the ideologies of many Ukrainian separatists, that the public is innocent of moral association with the Azov regiment. They suggest that the views of militant members are not a product of the public narrative, and so what if they are? 

What other options do Ukrainian civilians have? The American view, it seems, is that when it is white civilians being attacked, and the attacker is an old enemy, arming and bolstering white supremacists is merely a strategic ploy in the art of war, a consequence of the circumstances at hand. After all, mass civilian death at the hands of a more powerful, more financed military that inflicts collective punishment is unacceptable — a war crime, even — is it not?

And if the civilians attacked are not white? If they are Palestinian? The EU fully backs the Ukrainians’ right to “choose [their] own destiny” and commends their “courage in defending their country.” In the same breath, they condemn Russia’s “indiscriminate attacks” on the Ukrainian civilian population, calling them a “war crime.” When Palestinians participate in armed resistance of any kind, the EU, without wasting a second, labels them all as members of Hamas, and then, in tune with the US, comparing them to ISIS. And then in their familiar chorus, they relegate them to the collective of “terrorists” so that they can celebrate the death of anyone who so much as looks like them. The vast majority of the EU, in the last week and a half, has supported the collective punishment the Israeli occupation has inflicted on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip — where Israel has cut off civilians’ electricity and water. 

With the US and the EU’s support the Israeli military is, right now, bombing Gaza’s hospitals, motivating their settler citizens to participate in shooting Palestinians indiscriminately at point-blank range, bombing Gaza’s borders to ensure that the overwhelming majority of the Palestinians they have displaced will suffocate under rubble, or end up unrecognizable. In pieces. 

When there is no financial benefit to supporting self-determination, the imperial core will reject it vehemently. When the children’s bodies lined up on the street are not white, it’s not a war crime to have bombed or shot them, because one day they might have grown up to become terrorists. When the militias wear Nazi symbols and do, actually, on multiple occasions, call for the extermination of Jews and Roma, it’s okay to send them guns and tanks and billions of dollars, because at least they’re not Muslims, or communists or Arabs. When the occupying, genocidal, violently racist army is your ally, their brutality is invisible. When they’re not — that’s when it’s time to rewrite history until it becomes illegible. 

Sofia Uriagereka-Herburger writes about politics and international and domestic social movements. Write to her at [email protected]

About the Contributor
Sofia Uriagereka-Herburger, Senior Staff Columnist
Sofia Uriagereka is a senior majoring in Anthropology. She writes primarily about politics, both domestic and international.