Monday, February 28, 2005

"Us" and "Them"

Masha Gessen, writing about a new Kremlin youth movement:
Imagine for a minute that in some country other than Russia -- say, in the United States, or in Britain -- there appeared a political organization that called itself "Us." Not U.S. as in the United States, not Us as in Us Magazine, but Us as in "us vs. them." Imagine further that this is an organization that supports, and is evidently supported by, the country's current government. Now imagine the hue and cry, the outrage of all the righteous people who argue that an organization that openly divides its own country into those who are "us" and those who are "them" is despicable -- and a government that supports and even inspires the use of the rhetoric of war against its own citizens is criminal.

Welcome to Russia. A group calling itself "Nashi" held its first congress at a resort hotel outside of Moscow on Saturday. The word nashi, which literally means "ours," references Soviet movies about World War II. It's an inspired choice: On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, 1940s patriotism is the only sort that virtually all Russians are willing to own. Nashi is the sort of word that one used in describing a battle scene in one of those movies -- "Nashi just bombed the hell out of them" -- when there could be no question of where the viewer's loyalties lay. Nashi is also the kind of word one can apply to a sports game -- but only, tellingly, when a Russian team is playing a foreign one. In other words, the most accurate translation of Nashi is Us.
The rest of Masha Gessen's article is here

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