The good news first. First: A German film has won several Oscars. Second, "Navalny" was awarded to a documentary about a man imprisoned in Vladimir Putin's Russia for his political beliefs.
Now the bad news: Volodymyr Zelenskyj, who would have liked to give a short speech at the Oscars via zoom, was not invited for the second time in a row.
The rumored justification for this dismissal is as interesting as it is insane. Allegedly, Will Packer, the man who produces Oscar night, said last year that everyone involved in the war against Ukraine was white, which is why this conflict deserves so much attention, while other wars in which dark-skinned people die Hollywood would be ignored. Consequently: no Selenskyj. This rationale deserves study in detail because it reveals much about a fundamental problem of the American left.
Let's start with Hollywood. Many filmmakers have always been politically progressive in some way — but that never stopped the industry from being racist. As recently as 2011, the gentlemen who award the Oscars managed not to nominate a single black person for the award.
And if you look at the list of black actresses who have won, it's depressing: In 1939, Hattie McDaniel won for her supporting role as Nice Fat Mommy in the racist smack flick Gone With the Wind. In order to receive her Oscar, she had to get up from the cat table, which was reserved for black people.
After that, nothing at all for 51 years, and it wasn't until 1990 that Whoopi Goldberg received an award for a comic supporting role in "Ghost". And in 2001, a black woman won an Oscar for a leading role for the first time: Halle Berry. There is no doubt that the American film industry has something to make up for. What's crazy is that she's doing it through an affront to Ukraine and her president. Why?
Here it is time to think a little about the adjective "white". In the early days of the United States, the term “white” was rarely used, instead speaking of the national origins of European immigrants. So you didn't say "Three whites rode across the country road", but "two Scots and a German".
The adjective "white" did not catch on on a large scale until later — and it was a combat term from the start, serving to distinguish it from "blacks." One was considered white then (and only then) if one did not have a single dark-skinned person in one's line of ancestry ("one drop of blood rule"). This radicalism only existed in America.
Outside the United States, these nomenclatures make little sense. In not a single European country were blacks who had been kidnapped by ship forced to work in the fields with lashes. Marriage between whites and blacks was not forbidden in any European country until 1967.
This is not because Europeans are inherently better people; it's because their racism was directed against other sections of the population — the Roma, for example, who were persecuted almost everywhere. Or against Ukrainians: every student of Russian literature knows that the great poet Alexander Pushkin was also a great despiser of Ukraine.
His poem To Russia's Detractors is a rhymed pamphlet that reads like an artful anticipation of Putin's propaganda: "Have we forgotten how to conquer?" he asks there rhetorically, threatening Europeans who dare attack Russia because of his Criticizing imperialism, blatantly linked to war.
Unfortunately, this tradition stretches back to the Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky, who was a courageous dissident — but in one of his poems referred to Ukrainians as “kochli” (a foul swear word that can be likened to the N-word) and predicted them , they would only admit to being Russian on their deathbed.
For Russian nationalists - and this imprint unfortunately runs very deep - Ukrainians are at best stupid peasants who have to be educated, at worst they are insurgents who have to be massacred. There are Russian cartoons depicting Ukrainians as half-human ape creatures.
Against the backdrop of history — the Soviet Union is known to have starved millions of Ukrainians — these cartoons are at least as vile as the racism directed against black Americans.
However, there is another level of stupidity: Some progressive Americans (such as Whoopi Goldberg) claim in all seriousness that the genocide of European Jews was a crime committed by “whites against whites”.
In order to be able to classify this insane statement at all, you have to know that anti-Semitism in the United States is still considered a special form of religious intolerance. Resentment against Jews is thus placed on a par with resentment against Catholics, Muslims and Mormons.
In the American context, this even makes sense, since Jews have always been considered white here. The "Confederate States of America", which was completely racist, did have a Jewish Secretary of War: Judah Benjamin.
In the European context, however, the American perspective is absurd. In the Middle Ages, Jews still had the option of evading persecution through baptism. But since the 19th century, Jews have been considered an "alien race."
The Nazis didn't care whether the Jews they gassed were baptized or professed atheism; anyone who had more than two Jewish grandparents was considered a Jew, that's all. It would have been surprising news to the millions murdered by the Germans and their collaborators that they and their killers belonged to the same group.
Such insanity - the Ukrainians are "white", the Jews are "white" - shows the main problem of the American left: They are downright adventurously provincial. This provincialism manifests itself, first, as complete ignorance of the rest of the world. And second, as a lack of curiosity about other people's stories.
Part of the ignorance of the American left is that it elevates the struggle for civil rights for black Americans to the standard for all other conflicts in the world. The struggle for black civil rights has two merits: it's morally simple — there's not a single argument for the Southern racists who set dogs on black protesters — and it ended, for the time being at least, in the good guys' victory .
But these two characteristics apply to very few conflicts on our troubled globe. It is often not that easy to say who the good guys are, and often it is not justice that wins in the end, but simply the stronger. The Vietnam War already showed that it was wrong to use an internal American issue as a compass for a foreign part of the world.
Of course, protesting the cruelty of American warfare was right and legitimate. Of course, there is nothing that justifies the use of napalm against civilians.
But it was idiotic to show solidarity with the Vietcong, as so many American leftists did, most notably Hollywood actress Jane Fonda. It was wrong not to see that North Vietnam was a dictatorship and that the North's victory meant a victory for state-imposed starvation and concentration camps.
The worst results come when America's left projects the civil rights struggle onto the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Then the Israelis are collectively declared racist masters, and the Palestinians are turned one and all into victims who can't help it.
Of course, anyone who has been in the region for even five minutes knows that it is considerably more complicated; you need curiosity to find out, and knowledge of the language would not go amiss either.
It should come as a surprise to us that the American left is so provincial. After all, the left saw itself as an international movement from the start: Workers of all countries, unite! High international solidarity!
If Donald Trump's deranged supporters don't care about the rest of the world and don't speak foreign languages, we shouldn't be surprised — stupidity is part of their agenda.
But why do leftists choose blindness? Why don't you invite Zelenskyy in the first place? One would like to invite the European left to come and help the American comrades with words and deeds. The problem is that the European left is often just as provincial in its own way.