More EuroMaidan stupidity: concerned helicopter mom doesn’t like my tone

Ever since writing that post about stupid things people have been saying about the EuroMaidan protests in Ukraine, I felt like moving on from discussing stupidity – at least for a while. It’s not good for your blood pressure, for one thing.

But then the post started getting passed around – and some friends have e-mailed it to their friends – and as a byproduct of that, I ended up being very humbled. You see, I had arrogantly assumed that my anger at some people’s cluelessness wrt the situation in Ukraine would warn anyone off from trying to push more cluelessness on me.

Ha ha. Ha ha ha.

Dear Natalia, [name withheld to protect the guilty] gave me your e-mail address. I hope you don’t mind.

Well, I didn’t at first, but then…

I wanted to respond to you about the tone in which your post on Stupid Things Said About Euromaidan was written. I’m sure by now you are wondering “What does this strange woman have to tell me that I don’t already know?” And that’s fine. I completely understand that this is where you might be coming from. But the truth is, we don’t always know how our thoughts and writings can impact other human beings, do we?

Actually, when strange people write me in order to discuss my “tone,” my initial thoughts tend to be way less polite, but whatever.

Because he is her older brother’s best friend, my daughter really looks up to [redacted]. He on the other hand looks up to you. In fact, this isn’t the first time [redacted] recommends your writing to us. We have always found it inspirational, until you lashed out against some of the misconceptions people have about the Ukraine.

simon cowell blinks at you

Also: “the Ukraine.”

I understand that misconceptions can be frustrating. But not everyone who is not completely informed is acting in bad faith. My daughter, for example, has been thinking about volunteering in the Ukraine. for a while Thankfully, your post did not deter her.


Also: “the Ukraine.”

But you may want to think about others your post might have affected. There are a lot of idealistic kids out there who may not get every single nuance of the situation in Ukraine. But they are enthusiastic and want to help. Would you really want to discourage them?

Why yes, I do think that people coming to an unstable country with a bunch of dangerous assumptions should be discouraged. Vigorously so. Sometimes, with yelling and screaming – and unladylike language and tone.

But at least she didn’t use “the Ukraine” in this paragraph.

From what I have read in the news, the Ukraine needs all the help it can get.

Nope, here it is again! “The Ukraine”!

And since you clearly happen to be a good writer, you may want to think about the impact your particular side of the story may have on others.

“I don’t think you bow and scrape enough in your posts. Think about that.”

I’m sure that should you ever become a mother…

You mean like that time in 2011 when I gave birth to my son?

…you will understand the importance of inspiring others first, rather than discouraging them right away.

YES. In fact, when my son wants to overturn a fruit stand at the supermarket, I don’t stop him or anything. Sure, what he’s doing may be dangerous to himself and to all of the people who will probably take a tumble after stepping in some slippery mango or whatever – BUT DISCOURAGING CHILDREN IS BAD.

That’s really all I wanted to say. Best of luck to you and to the Ukraine.

But seriously, with friends like there, why would “the Ukraine” require any luck?

… OK, you guys will have to give me some credit – I DID think this was a parody at first. I was convinced that someone read my original post and decided to REALLY make steam come out of my ears. But then I forwarded this to [redacted], and it turns out this lady is for real.

After everything that has happened in my neck of the woods lately (if you scroll down, you’ll know what I mean), my initial desire was to immediately reach for a beer. Then I thought better of it. Why let the idiots win? And so, with a smile on my face, I demanded the vintage cognac instead.

13 thoughts on “More EuroMaidan stupidity: concerned helicopter mom doesn’t like my tone

  1. Hoi Natalia,I am wondering since you live in moscow and your husband is Russian are you planning to stay in Russia,and also as a person it seems like you have a distain for the country where you are originily from,what has happend to you in America?

  2. First of all, that letter is fucking insane (but why am I surprised? Most people who write you seem fucking insane).

    Second of all, why hello there, Henk! Nice bunch of stupid assumptions you’ve made there, buddy! Also, congratulations on spouting thoroughly senseless armchair psychology, ’cause the readers around here really need that kind of thing after the bizarre soccer mom letter above! Now I can’t quite fucking decipher what it is you are trying to say, but am going to assume for a second that you are accusing Natalia of having disdain for Ukraine. Now where you’re getting that from is absolutely fucking beyond me, especially considering the volumes of beautiful essays on Ukraine on this site, but whatever, maybe your reading skills are subpar, maybe you’re just a pushy little concern troll with no respect for common net etiquette or boundaries, I don’t know and I’m not sure that I want to know. I mean, trying to put someone on the defensive for marrying a person of a particular nationality is even more pathetic – or perhaps these two things are equal. I can’t decide. What I am certain of is that this blog continues to attract idiots like some kind of specially designed idiot-magnet.

    I don’t know how you put up with any of this, Nat. For a small blog, the audience is just too far out there. But I am glad your post on stupid things people have been saying about EuroMaidan got good play.

  3. Yeah, I was just about to say how weird the above comment is. I don’t think I’ve ever “disdained” any of the countries I’ve lived in – certainly not Ukraine (nor the U.S., for that matter). I do disdain weird comments, though.

  4. I suppose “the Ukraine” is better than “a Ukraine.” To paraphrase from the pop culture reference in your previous post, “You can’t stop the stupid, Mal.”

  5. Maybe you dont disdain any country you have ever been,but the way you write about Russia is often very critical,especialy about the goverment ,but i think if putin was not their too lead the country,Russia in its current form would no longer exist,.and i think Russia is a great country

  6. Henk:

    Think of it this way: In criticizing Russia, Natalia Antonova is following in the steps of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Boris Pasternak, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Maybe she will be a Nobel Prize winner like Pasternak (and Solzhenitsyn?). At any rate, it’s an honorable tradition for Russian writers to criticize both Russia and its government, even if Putin is not always on board with it.

  7. Hey Henk, so what have YOU done for Russia lately?

    Because I actually follow her work at The Moscow News, I happen to know know that Natalia has called attention to major social & infrastructure problems, has headed roundtables on everything from lack of adequate palliative care & need for greater business development, and given out awards for outstanding community service.

    She’s the kind of person who goes to hospices, interviews parents who were separated from their kids as they lay dying in the ICU, highlights the lack of justice in the Magnitsky case… She’s one of those people who wants to see a better, more humane Russia. She’s been a voice of reason….. Her writing on Russia is never shrill, but almost always compassionate and humane.

    I also happen to think that Russia is a great country. But it’s not perfect. Putin is not perfect either. If you write off gifted journalists like Natalia because they don’t happen to be his cheerleaders – GUESS WHAT, IT’S NOT THE MEDIA’S JOB TO BE A CHEERLEADER – then you’ve lost.

    And oh yeah, buddy, I really WOULD like to know how you’re doing your part in helping Russia become a better country. Besides running your mouth in blog comments.

  8. Well, I’m definitely no Dostoevsky (but thank you). And I’ve only given out one award (but thank you). I was hoping to give out more awards, but now that RIA Novosti is being liquidated, that probably won’t be very likely. Not any time soon, anyway.

    I like Dmitry Bykov’s notion that Putin is a consensus figure. Russia needs a consensus figure. Putin’s done a lot for the country, even someone like Navalny can admit that. I think anyone who denies that is, well, deluded. But the problem is – there is a “you’re with us or against us” mentality that draws lines in the sand. Journalists are labeled as either “loyal” or “disloyal” – sometimes simply for reporting basic facts, or expressing some very basic opinions.

    If writing about hospices and, for example, what I personally believe to be the inhumanity and short-sightedness of the Dima Yakovlev law (this is in spite of serious problems with international adoption in general – and not just in the United States) brands me “disloyal” – then whatever.

    I really have nothing to say to anyone who demands that I pick some imaginary “side.” So drop it.

  9. Natalia, I’m so sorry to hear that your paper is closing! I look forward to reading your work wherever you end up. Any ideas where you might go? I find the conversation about Putin where I live to be quite interesting. There is a segment of people here (US) who are very adamant about how great Putin is and that our western media just portrays him terribly (not to say that it doesn’t). There is also the local ROCOR community, who seem invested in having a positive opinion of him. Take care and best of luck!

  10. We don’t know if it’s closing yet – there will be official statements once we know something.

    Wrt Putin – there is rarely a “right” or “wrong” opinion on him. A politician is not a ten dollar bill for everyone to like and a politician’s individual tenure is always complex.

    Some people are more comfortable being cheerleaders for politicians. Others cast themselves as soldiers doing battle with them. I prefer a more nuanced approach, but nuance doesn’t make you very popular.

  11. So basically: “Natalia, you should propagandize. Propaganda is totally ok if it’s of the right places (=not Russia). Next up: please dont write anything bad about Afghanistan (in case you’re thinking about doing so). It has a warm climate and beautiful nature. AND it needs all the help it can get! My daughter is considering it for her Spring Break – please dont discourage her!”

  12. Excellent blog you have here, and I’ve only begun to explore it. I sympathize with your attitude toward the “concerned mom”.

    You seem to take particular offense at sticking the definite article in front of “Ukraine”, a very old custom in English. I’ve only begun to explore your blog. Is there a place where you elaborate on this?

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