(Google Commons/Garrett Falke Illustration)
America needs to start taking Russia’s meme generator seriously
Every morning, when the sun begins to make its ascent into the sky, behind Russia’s gray, ominous abyss of clouds, a youthful deer prances into the president’s bedroom. He graciously rubs his little red nose upon Putin’s cheek, allowing him to wake without being startled. Russia’s supreme leader smiles back at his fury little comrade, gets out of bed while releasing a mesmerizing yawn, and strips off a snazzy slumber shirt, beginning his day shirtless.
He then takes a 25-minute bubble bath while his pet dolphins generously wash his backside. Downstairs awaits freshly made blueberry waffles, drizzled with maple syrup and honey taken right out of the hive. Putin reminisces about his wonderful choice of becoming a vegetarian, as he observes an orderly line of baby chicks following their mother out the kitchen door. The charismatic Russian hunk then pops out of his chair, kisses his gymnast girlfriend (also topless) goodbye, and then rides off on his trusted horse to Moscow.
Just a normal morning for Russia’s fascist.
This is certainly how American media often portrays Russia’s ruthless dictator. According to memes on Twitter and SNL skits, Putin is a joke. It wouldn’t be completely bizarre for someone to perceive him solely as an animal-lover who adores Trump and shirtless horseback riding, but they’d be wrong.
Putin displays three characteristics identifiable in every fascist dictator of the past: oppression towards minority groups, ruthless political tactics, and an obsession with expanding a country’s imperialism. These are essentially the three pillars of facism, and just because Putin loves feeling the fresh Russian breeze on his bare, hairless chest, doesn’t mean he is an exception from this strict criteria.
Oppression towards minority groups
Putin has taken extreme action against various minority groups, a reason that many white supremacists now believe Russia is the racial ideal. He also has oppressed artists and musicians, even resulting in arresting music groups with anti-Putin messages. However, the minority group that has suffered the most under the Putin regime has been Russia’s LGBT community.
This topic has even resulted in Putin memes recently, due to Russia banning the spread of a picture depicting their leader as a Gay clown, but the issue is no laughing matter. It is well-known that being gay in Russia can put an individual in an immense amount of physical and legal danger, due to a bill being passed that prohibits any anti-heterosexual behavior in public.
On April 18 in Chechnya, the Northern Caucuses region of southern Russia, 100 men believed to be gay were captured and tortured by authorities. At least three of the men were killed. A representative of Putin said the Russian government does “not have any reliable information about any problems in this area.”
Ruthless political tactics
Other fascists have been renowned for their violent behavior towards political opponents, such as Stalin who had his enemies assassinated, sent to labor camps, or put in jail. Putin has conducted himself in a similar manner, causing U.S. Senator John McCain to call him a “thug and a murderer.”
Various politicians and journalists have been killed over the past couple of years, including Boris Nemtsov, a political star in Russia who publicly criticized Putin. Another opponent that was murdered is Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer who represented a myriad of journalists opposing Putin. Both of these political opponents were assassinated.
A large portion of most dictators’ rise to power revolves around getting rid of political opponents, and it is not merely a coincidence that many of Putin’s have been killed over the years.
Obsession with expanding a country’s imperialism
This trait is perhaps the most recognizable when discussing various fascist dictators over the years. Hitler was infatuated with the idea of making Germany the world’s reigning power, which he attempted to do by gradually expanding through military force.
Putin’s Russia embraces the same philosophy, and most of its population supports his imperialism. He strives to make Russia a European Empire, which has led to many Russian’s considering Moscow to be the “Third Rome.” Putin has even said that, “the [ethnic]Russian people are, without a doubt, the backbone, the fundament, the cement of the multinational Russian people.”
Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, exemplifying Putin’s obsession with regaining territories of the former Soviet Union. It also invaded Georgia in 2008, and many believe a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine is in the making.
According to Russia’s latest military plans, it will add over 900 tanks and 170 aircraft during 2017. Judging by recent history, this suggests Putin has his eyes on territory west of his beloved Russia.
There is no debate that some of Putin’s renowned memes reek of absurdity and hilarious undertones, but creating a lighthearted perception of himself is exactly what the Russian president wants. Part of many fascists’ downfalls result from never being able to hide their malicious motives.
Outside of Germany, countries everywhere were aware of the evil behind Hitler’s imperialism and nationalism; U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt urged congress to approve of entering the war in order to combat the Axis Powers.
However, today the U.S. remains neutral on the evil existing in Russia, laughing hysterically at pictures of the Russian president executing the Butterfly stroke in a river. Yet as we remain naive to Putin’s heinous intentions, he will continue going about his devious business, laughing at us.