Last year, during the West’s never-ending minute of hate for Russia, Paul Starobin published an interesting essay in The National Interest: “The Eternal Collapse of Russia.” If you do not subsribe to The National Interest, you may download the article from the Internet Archive. Starobin surveys the history of the West’s jaundiced perception of Russia and analyzes contemporary hostility to that nation. The article is worth a read.
On a more pedestrian level, I encountered Russophobia last week when I watched the 2014 film, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. I like The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger, and I wanted to see the latest “Jack Ryan” film adaptation, though this one was not based on a Tom Clancy novel. What I discovered was as ridiculous as craven Hollywood’s last attempt at a Jack Ryan movie, The Sum of All Fears, which I refused to see on principle. For the villain in this latest film is a Russian oligarch who, with the approval of the Kremlin and the active complicity of the Russian Orthodox Church, orchestrates a terrorist attack to blow up Wall Street and destroy the American economy through a consequent mass sell off of American bonds (or something like that).
Consider the history of global terrorism during the last forty years. We have leftist radicals in the 70’s and Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski in the 90’s on the American scene, the Japanese cult group Aum Shinrikyo, the I.R.A. in Britain, and Anders Breivik in Norway. There were surely others, but these terror incidents come immediately to mind. Then, consider what I did not mention. Take some time; for the list is quite long. Do you notice a discrepancy in the quantity and, in a perverse occasion for the word, quality of terrorist acts? Indeed. If we were to compare terrorism to leading causes of death in contemporary America, Muhammedanism would be heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and the flu combined. All other terrorist “causes” combined would be more like shark attacks. But the media love to cover shark attacks. They’re exciting, while heart attacks are boringly trite for the audience.
So, instead of Mohammedan fanatics as the terrorists—so expected and overdone—let’s instead have South African Nazis or Russian Orthodox sleeper cells.
Besides the silly and offensive plot of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, a major Hollywood film should at least properly research its settings—in this case, about how Orthodox temples look. In one scene, Kenneth Branagh’s character Cherevin, the evil Russian oligarch, enters Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. He lights a candle and prays for America to bleed—believable so far—I mean, we’ve all done that countless times, you know—and then he exits with a great determination of will to avenge Mother Russia. The interior shown, however, is the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral in London. The Byzantine style interior is credibly Orthodox, but the suspended Franciscan style crucifix (San Damiano Cross) in the middle of the nave is a sure sign that it is not. That is an acceptable fault, though. The scene wherein the Russian Orthodox priest activates the sleeper cell in Dearborn, Michigan is not pardonable—at all. We are led to believe that a hyper-modernist church with no iconography, complete with a modern stained glass cross behind the apse-less altar and full of pews, is a Russian Orthodox parish in Michigan. The building is, in fact, the Anglican Church of St John the Evangelist in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Now, I realize that no Russian Orthodox parish would allow such filming inside their temple, but surely the filmmakers could have contacted a uniate community. Ukrainian uniates would have volunteered their temple for free in order to make the Russian Orthodox Church look bad.
Anyway, I understand the West’s deeply held belief in Orthodox caesaropapism, and I acknowledge that the Soviet controlled Moscow Patriarchate collaborated with the godless Communists. However, the Russian Church Abroad, to which “Saint Uriel the Archangel Russian Orthodox Church” in Dearborn most likely belongs, strongly resisted Communist control. We are, of course, just gullible tools of the Tsar! Perhaps, that is the film’s message—that the post-Soviet Kremlin, with the new Tsarish Putin, now commands the Whites and the Reds to do its bidding. It is funny! The White Church has often been accused of being a pawn of the C.I.A.—the very employer of Jack Ryan. We Russian Orthodox are always someone’s toadies.
Such brings me to my last rant. Ann Barnhardt is fascinating bird, and I wish her well, but in her post about why Ayn Rand became an atheist (“More on Cowardice and Courage”), she writes:
Do you know why Ayn Rand (Alisa Rosenbaum was her real name) became an atheist? Do you know why that clearly intelligent woman became so utterly convinced that there was no God? It is because she witnessed the revolting, repellant cowardice of the Russian Orthodox clergy in Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. Seeing those men capitulate to evil in order to save their own skins was so abhorrent to behold that young Alisa became convinced that there was no way that the church or the God worshiped in that church could possibly be real or true. It was the observation of cowardice that drove her into atheism, and then into her own sad life of sin and self-centeredness, all in the name of †rational self-interest† and †happiness†.
Such may be true; I do not know enough about Rand’s biography. However, it is very misleading. Barnhardt does not mention the millions of Russian Orthodox martyrs who resisted, fought against, and suffered from the Communists. She does not explain how the Communists gained control of the Moscow Patriarchate. The “revolting, repellant cowardice of the Russian Orthodox clergy” resulted from the liquidation of the Russian episcopate and priesthood. The Communists imprisoned and killed the Church’s bishops, and then the Party repopulated its ranks from the small number remaining—the few who exhibited “revolting, repellant cowardice” in the face of torture and death—with controllable pawns. The Soviets murdered two hundred thousand priests, deacons, and monastics. “Revolting, repellant cowardice”—blasphemy against the Holy Spirit comes to mind.