Why do I hate Russians?

Not much to do with Ukraine, really, but I’ve harbored a deep antipathy for Russians my whole life, and it’s not just leftover Cold War stuff either. (Boomer here, raised in the whole “Duck and Cover” terror of nuclear war.) It’s something deeper than that–it has something to do with my hatred of nationalism in general, the feeling that one’s own country is the finest culture, people, language, spirit the world has ever known, and the feeling of victimization that the stupid world doesn’t value us properly as their superiors and doesn’t accept their role as our subordinates.

Now I realize that you could easily say that this jingoism I’m describing could better apply to the U.S. than to any other country in the history of the world, and I’ll own it. I think this narrow view “American exceptionalism” is one of the worst things about the U.S., and I despise it here too.

But it’s even worse in Russia, I think, this belief that Russian culture is the greatest, and even worse than that is their resentment that other countries are out to get them. Whether under the Czars, the Soviets, or the Kleptocrats, their culture seems to me to embrace corruption, the oppression of the working poor for the benefit of those few at the top, and their sense that it has to be that way, and always will be that way, but nevertheless they are the only wise civilization ever to exist. Russians seem to me stoical and smug in accepting their perspective on the world, whatever that perspective happens to be at the time.

Some personal notes–I’m descended from Russians, sort of. My family fled Russia (Lithuania and Romania, but those may have been jumping off points) early in the 20th century, and they seemed to me to be difficult people, the ones who actually immigrated to the US and Canada, damaged, mistrustful, bitter, angry people, which informs me a little bit about the Russian character. Also I taught Russian students in a U.S. college in the 1990s and I’ve never in my life seen such cynical, dishonest students–they thought nothing of plagiarizing their work whenever they thought there was a chance of getting away with it, and they treated me like their enemy when I tried to explain how plagiarizing wouldn’t help them to master the material. The Russian system, I concluded, had taught them that everyone is a cheat, and the only purpose to getting an education was to get a degree that would get them jobs, but actually educating themselves was stupid. They wanted jobs, and my insistence on teaching them stuff was just a waste of time, because no one was actually qualified to do any jobs, everyone was faking it and trying to cheat everyone at every turn. My Russian students were almost all liars (not very good ones, but that didn’t stop them) who would stick to their loony stories long after I’d satisfied myself that they were just dumb BS stories. As an example, I might say to one of them, “Listen, Sergei, I know you didn’t write this paper” and he would say, “I did write paper.” So I would answer, “No, you didnt–some native speaker who has mastered a lot of English colloquial phrases that you haven’t mastered wrote it, so can we discuss what we’ll do about your plagiarism?” and he would answer me “Paper is my work. I promise you, Mister Professor, on mother’s life, I write paper.” So I would roll my eyes and tell them that he got a F, or flunked the course, or whatever, and he would go “Unfair to honest hardworking student! I protest to dean!” This happened more times than I can remember, over and over, until the number of Russian emigres dwindled. They really didn’t seem to distinguish a university from a diploma mill–their attitude was “I pay you money for a degree, where is my degree?” while skipping over the whole education part of the deal.

So my life experience has turned me against Russians, as far as any prejudice against a nationality can turn someone, and this Ukraine horror, the ridiculous lies Putin trots out in public, the near-psychotic killing of civilians, the denial that Ukraine even exists, is helping me get a sense of empathy for the Russians. It’s stupid to generalize about millions of people, and I recognize that there are Russians who are disgusted with their government more profoundly than I am
but I’m finding it very hard to think of Russia as anything other than a blight on this earth now.

I don’t quite hate Russia or Russians, however, I think there is a reason many people do, which is that Russia reminds so many of us about some bad person in our lives - an abusive boss, ex, parent, stalker, etc. We’ve all faced someone like “Russia” who was manipulative, passive-aggressive and victim-blaming. So it triggers our response.

should be “…isn’t helping me get…” Missed the ‘edit’ window.

There’s some Russian culture which is hateful. Same here in America too.

Wait until you meet Han Chinese nationalists. They’ve seen themselves as a superior nation since time immemorial. And they are, in fact, the largest ethnic group in the world.


Exactly. We have a clearer perspective on others than we do on ourselves.

But that’s not the whole explanation. Every culture is hateful, but we feel strongly about some, less strongly about others. There’s something obdurate about Russian culture for me, and I wonder if that’s just my life experience talking–the damaged emigre family, the nasty students, the Cold War experience–or if there’s something unique about Russia that makes me feel this way.

I guess I’d better get rid of that book of poems by Prokofyev, then.

They make cute nesting dolls, and I like those story illustrations from the late nineteenth century into the 1930’s. Also, some of the finest novelists that will ever be.

Their history is one of the most despicable, from the serfs to the pogroms to Stalin and now Putin in a nearly unbroken line. And no sign of hope for them.

My hate is reserved for Putin & his Cronies.

You know, I don’t want to hijack my own thread, but I’ve always found Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Solsynetizen, Pushkin, Nabokov really hard to get through.

Lots of food I grew up eating–borscht, Blintzes, groats, stroganoff–I still enjoy, though. The literature, music, art, leaves me pretty cold.

I also have had that experience with plagiarizing Russian students. But I’ve had quite a lot of American students with that attitude to university, too, and who plagiarize. It’s just that they are a little more subtle about it.

There are a lot of things I don’t like about Russian culture, to the point where I wouldn’t want to live there and it’s not high on my list of places to travel to. But I think there’s a subtle but important distinction between disliking Russian culture and disliking Russian people: the culture may inform the traits you dislike in the people, but at the same time it’s a bit more justifiable to analyze a collection of beliefs, values, and behaviours negatively than it is to judge a mass of human beings.

American culture has progressed over time more than Russian IMHO. We certainly have plenty of problems, and this is a tough time for us, but I think ‘obdurate’ is the perfect word to distinguish Russian culture from American. American big C conservatism has proven to be quite flexible and progressive compared to its Russian counterpart.

Soviet Communism was not significantly different than the Tsarist rule when it came to valuing human beings and cultures other than their own, whether those humans were Russian or not. And even though they swore they learned their lesson just 30 years ago they are right back to where Soviet Communism left off. At the heart of the problem is the belief that strength is more important than anything else, that might makes right overrules any other philosophy. And of course they belief that approach has never been proven wrong because when things go pear shaped in Russia it’s always due to traitors who were not true to Russian tradition.

A little? No, a lot. I could nearly always get an American plagiarist all the way to “OK, I did what you say I did” in about five minutes. The Russians would insist that they were innocent lambs to their dying breath. Their attitude was “Look, you and I know this is a big game–you accuse, I insist you’re wrong. I can play this gsme all day.” They seemed to lack a moral sense entirely, zero understanding that what they did was wrong, and they would need to accept that they’d be penalized for it quite properly. Instead, they tried to make me out to be their oppressor, which I gradually came to accept.

A lot of it is US propaganda. I came of age during WW2 when there was a full court press on being pro Soviet Union. So, I have a benevolent attitude toward Russia. Not so Japan.

During the Korean war there was a slow anti soviet shift.

I don’t absolve the average Russian citizen. It seems some times that they prefer living under a strongman. Like they can’t fathom making their own decisions, being in charge of their own lives.

And they clearly can’t drive for shit!


Ashkenazi Jewish.

Not specific to Russia. All the Eastern European ethnicities eat groats / kasha (buckwheat porridge).

This one is bona fide Russian, though.


I’ve also been offered bribes by students (to change grades, mostly) and every time, it was–well, you can guess their nationality.



I think of Russia as a center of culture, science, education, arts, exploration, and one of the key allies that helped the world avoid Nazis at the end of WWII, with massive sacrifices. What’s going on now in Ukraine should bring every Russian citizen to shame. Shame on their government. Shame to their history and contributions to civilization. For what? A small chunk of real estate in eastern Europe - a tiny gain? Shame!

But they are not a special snowflake. They have done bad things thru their history, just like us, and every other country. Russia is a unique country - just like all the others.

On the plus side, they gave the world hours of dashcam video entertainment!

In Soviet Russia, Russians hate YOU!