Debates about how close Vladimir Putin’s regime approximates fascism or Nazism are intensifying, with some pointing to the enormous similarities between his Russia and the Italy of Mussolini and the Germany of Hitler and others arguing that there is still a great deal that sets them apart.
Both sides of this argument have some evidence, but with each passing month it seems some of the uglier features not only of fascism but of National Socialism. The latest and in some ways the most frightening is the argument advanced by United Russia Duma deputy and Ph.D. in history Vyacheslav Nikonov that Russian children must be taught about “the Great Russian Aryan Race.”
No one who lived through or has studied the horrors that concept brought to Europe in the middle of the 20th century can fail to be concerned about such a notion, and consequently it is important to focus on exactly what he is calling for.
“It is always necessary to remember in which country you live and work and to know its traditions,” Nikonov says. “Our Fatherland has a great past. A branch of the Aryan tribes descended from the Carpathian mountains and peaceably settled the Great Russian lowlands and Siberia … reached the Pacific Ocean, founded Fort Ross [in what is now the US state of California], contributed to the greatest cultures of Byzantium, Europe, and Asia, and defeated the most horrific enemy of humanity, Nazism.”
[quote]“If we divide all humanity into three groups: the founders of culture, the bearers of culture, and the destroyers of culture, then representatives of the first two groups will be, if you will, only Aryans. Namely the Aryans laid the foundation and walls, so to speak, of all human creations. Other peoples put their mark only on the external forms and colors.”[/quote]
This is an example of a particularly noxious form of ignorant and vicious racism, and while there is still a long distance between Nikonov’s words and Hitler’s camps, such notions must be exposed and denounced because history shows that they can open the way for ever more vicious treatment of other peoples.