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Russian Conservatives – Friend Not Foe

Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2022
by AMAC, Robert B. Charles

Encouraging hatred toward the average Russian, as a result of Putin’s actions in Ukraine, is fundamentally wrong. Ronald Reagan would not accept that idea, not to justify ending the Ukraine conflict or to promote Leftism in the West – and neither should Americans. Most Russians – across 11 time zones – are conservative, valuing family, faith, and freedom. They do not hate Americans, but question Leftism.

Recently, liberal Washington think tanks and mainstream media, including the Wall Street Journal (sadly), have fallen into a “mind trap,” the idea that Russia’s historic, faith-based, culturally rich conservatism is bad, because it is being used – this much is true – by an autocratic leader to serve immoral ends.

Vital is American understanding of the difference between a good people and a bad leader, between positive cultural roots and ignoble, wrong-headed use of those roots to justify bad acts. This is true for us and true for the rest of the world – Biden is not America, and Putin is not Russia.

Put differently, media that knowingly connect unrelated dots, that knowingly condemn another nation’s conservative culture because it is a convenient way to down a misguided leader are wrong.

Thus, China’s state-run media is fundamentally wrong to dismiss America’s strength and commitment to freedom based on our current president’s misstatements, mischaracterization of our own history, projected weakness, or condemnation of values held by half the nation.

In the same way, American media – and political leaders – are wrong to condemn the Russian people’s strongly-held and culturally consistent conservatism, just because Putin wants to use it as a political wedge, a way to foment anti-Western feeling, promote a different view of Russia, or justify his war.  

The truth is that “leftism” – intent on tearing things down in the name of class warfare, power consolidation, and international conflict – is practiced at some things. It derides tradition, rewrites history, blurs what it does not like, and undermines timeless values – family, free markets, free speech, faith, and freedom from government overreach. It disparages what has objectively advanced humanity.  

So, here is the point: Mr. Putin is a bad egg, a former Soviet spy turned autocrat, longing for power his Soviet crowd once had, long gone. That is a fact. But just as important, the Russian people are – by and large – a conservative population, centered on faith, family, and post-Soviet freedoms.

For the Western media – or any American – to conflate those two realities, is to embrace a fundamental misunderstanding. For Western media – or political leaders – to condemn the Russian people, their historical roots, religiously based and authentic conservatism, as if a creation of Putin, is more than unfair. It is counter-productive, a false narrative, and creates divisions that do not exist.

What the Left wants is American rejection of the Russian people’s fundamental conservatism, which goes back 1000 years – since that promotes the Left’s larger agenda, which is anti-conservative.

What the Left wants is a deliberate blurring of the lines, using Putin’s Ukraine conflict and talk of Russian conservatism as a wedge, a way to get Americans to reject conservative values as we reject the Ukraine war. They want the West to imagine Putin’s bad acts are somehow justified by Russian conservatism.

They are not, never have been, and are actually in direct conflict with one another. No time is better for remembering this – understanding it – than at Christmas. The average rural Russian, like the average rural American, is a straight-forward, family-centered Christian. In Russia, the brand of Christianity seeded 1000 years ago is Orthodox Christianity, one of many types practiced in America.

Christians do not – as a matter of principle – embrace immorality, killing of innocents, war for the sake of war, or any other pretext for autocratic, anti-moral action. They do not here and do not in Russia.  As in America, no celebrations are more important to Russians – than Christmas (Nativity) and Easter (Pascha).

If we can understand this, there is great hope in the future – especially in this season. This is not a season for condemnation of conservative values, here or in Russia, but a time for common ground, to see that these two great civilizations share a common, often ignored Christmas wish – “Peace on earth, good will to man.”

Imagine, if you will for a moment, that governments are one thing, the people they govern entirely different. Sometimes the two align, other times not so much. Much of America is centered on something other than Biden; much of Russia is centered on something other than Putin.

Curiously enough, as Ronald Reagan saw decades ago, Americans and Russians are – in many ways – alike. They love and long for lives centered on family, faith, and freedom. Our job now is not to let the Left deride those values – diminish or blur their significance – here or there. Much depends on that – and much hope resides in that understanding. And with that, Merry Christmas!

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1 year ago

Putin may not reflect all Russians, but they have a perfect right to set things straight with Ukraine. Its that non Ukrainian thug Zelensky causing all the problems. I find it despicable that anyone in our government is meeting with him other than to say we are not supporting you anymore.

1 year ago

Let’s see, Russia doesn’t allow grooming of children sexually. While gay isn’t outlawed, there are not gay weddings and I believe in some cities being openly gay is not encouraged. When the olympics were in Sochi, Putin made it clear that there would be no “gay pride” demonstrations, that the olympics were to be family friendly for all. The ethnically Russian people in Eastern Ukraine have suffered horribly since the CIA color revolution in 2014, suffered from the Ukrainians. Ukraine is now locking up preachers, priests and Rabbis. Journalists that disagree with Zelensky are locked up. Opposition parties to Zelensky are gone, locked up or…. The people in Eastern Ukraine have voted more than once to re-join Russia. The mayors of those cities are fined for speaking Russian to their Russian citizens.

Tell me again how BAD, Putin is?

Jim Hendricks
Jim Hendricks
1 year ago

I agree, having once met and talked with a Russian man, about My same Age. He was very intelligent, and liked America. He knew We had been close before, during Napoleon War and in WW II. He wished We could be closer, now.

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

The Russian PEOPLE have been pro-American for over 150 years. The fact that they first had Communists, and now a dictator doesn’t change that! Same thing with the Iranians (Persians). They deserve (as do we) better leaders!

Tommy Hemric
Tommy Hemric
1 year ago

May God bless us everyone.

1 year ago

I don’t think the average American is foolish enough to believe that the actions of either Putin or Xi are reflective of the views of the majority of Russian or Chinese citizens. No more so than someone overseas would assume the views of Joe Biden are supported by the vast majority of the American public. While I’m sure some small percentage of the Russian people may support Putin and his actions, just like the 10% of the Chinese people who belong to the CCP support Xi, Most intelligent people in this country understand that a lot of the talking heads inside the D.C. beltway talk in overly broad and general terms on most subjects. Everything tends to be generalized to the point of being almost nonsensical at times.

Both Russia and China have authoritarian governments, that neither seek of consent of the public nor listen to their views on much of anything the public has to say. They are put essentially rule by edict dictatorships, when you strip away all the political niceties both governments have wrapped themselves in. The average Russian or Chinese person or family has the same general concerns and desires as we do here in the United States. They just have no means to exercise any marginal control over the people that currently rule them. We’re getting to that point, but we still have a way to go before we end up in the same boat.

1 year ago

Amen, RBC. You are absolutely correct in stating the differences between people and governments. I agree that the American people have much in common with the Russian people. The three items you noted are foundational, in my opinion, to both of our cultures. Those that seek to divide and conquer must overcome that foundation to be successful. May it never be. Marry Christmas to you and your family.

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