With the recent heightened attention paid to the possibility of Russian interference in US elections, and the negative sentiment towards Russia here in the US, has there been any discrimination or physical violence towards Russians living in the US? I am curious if people are retaliating against those of Russian heritage because of disdain for Putin or the perceived actions of Russia? I fear that if there isn’t any violence or discrimination against Russians it is because people might think, to put it bluntly, “they’re white, so they’re still one of us.” Which is indeed a scary thought.
A great many of the Russians in the US are actually Jews who fled discrimination there. Why would anyone discriminate against them? The last time I walked the boards in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, the language I heard was mainly Russian.
At a training session for Election Judges yesterday, the instructor had to specifically state that “Russians could vote, too”. This was in answer to a question, when we were talking about security measures, and got a bit of nervous laughter.
But it’s telling that a bunch of election judges in the Midwest would be concerned about ‘the Russians’ – almost like the 1950s again.
Well, in my opinion people would discriminate against these Russians for the same reasons people would be discriminated against in general, either for the perceived actions of their parent country (for example, people blaming all Mexicans/Hispanics for drugs and crime coming over the border), or for the color of their skin, etc. I am saying, I don’t want to think people would engage in discrimination here only because of color of their skin, or perceived difference.
In other words, what makes ignorant Americans say, in the same breath, “Russia may be tampering with our elections but Russian Americans don’t deserve discrimination or violence,” and “Mexico may be sending crime into our country and Hispanics everywhere should be discriminated against.” They must just not like Mexico or Hispanics because of racism, as they are willing to forgive Russians for a much potentially greater crime of meddling in the democratic process.
Is it solely about immigration? Because ignorant people have gone after Sikhs with the idea that all Muslims are terrorists and anyone who looks like a Muslim is responsible for 9/11.
And what about Japanese internment camps? Was that not punishing citizens for the actions of their country? Why did we do that and yet no one is rounding up Russians?
I don’t like to think we will set aside as Americans anything that may threaten us if it comes from people who look like us. Or perhaps we just as a country don’t care about democracy?
Please be patient with me, I want my ignorance fought.
I lived through the latter part of the Cold War, and the impression I always got of Americans’ attitudes was that we considered the Russian people to be victims of their own oppressive government. We weren’t worried about Russians per se but about Communists—and that included being worried about Americans who were Communists or Communist sympathizers or Communist agents.
I have heard resentment in beach communities along the east coast toward the towns and employers that hire so many Russian (and other east European) workers for the summers, but not hostility directed toward the kids themselves.
The majority of race-related hate crimes are crimes of opportunity, rather than premeditation (though the most widely reported ones tend to be the opposite because they involve mass killings). And the sort of people who commit those crimes tend not to know very much about their victims. So lots of Sikhs have been attacked since 9/11, because racist dumbasses can’t tell them apart from Muslims. Sikhs usually wear beards and turbans and they’re almost all of Indian descent, so they aren’t hard to spot.
By contrast, Russians don’t look significantly different from people of western European descent, so unless they have accents nobody is going to know they’re Russian. Even then, people who commit racist crimes are probably more likely to cheer on Russian election interference given the alt-right’s fondness for the current administration.*
*This being GQ, I am not saying anything about the administration’s role in election shenanigans, if any, or its racial policy.