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A Slavic Christmas

Last week I had the extraordinary privilege of attending an annual Christmas event held at a Christian cathedral in Sacramento, California. And here in the political heart of the Left Coast, for a few moments I was transported into a different world, where Christian faith and Christmas joy are still firmly in the center of what we now are expected to call the “Holiday Season.”

Performing that night was the Slavic Chorale, drawing its singers and orchestra musicians from first and second generation Slavic immigrants, mostly from Ukraine, but also from Russia, Belarus, Moldova, and Poland. The conductor spoke to the audience mostly in Ukrainian, and very occasionally in English. But you didn’t have to speak the language to feel the spirit in that music.

When the youth choir filed onto the stage, it was what one might imagine to be a typical scene in America 60 years ago. Children as young as five or six, scrubbed clean and wearing their Sunday suits and dresses, tow headed cherubs with blue eyes, heartbreakingly serious, singing their Christmas songs from memory.

The adult choir was also evocative of times long gone in America. There may be churches left with traditional values, but most of them are either mega churches with sermons that hybridize biblical teachings with motivational lectures on self-improvement, or they are defiantly traditional, forced to engage in political defense merely to carry on with what they believe. In many cases, of course, American churches have abandoned tradition, trying to be relevant by catering to woke ideology. But on this night, with these Slavic Christians, there was no agenda. It was a pure celebration of culture and faith.

Watching this community come together, and hearing echoes of America’s diminishing innocence and dwindling heritage in their robust chorus, made it achingly clear what we have lost. It also made clear what we are fighting for, when we push back against the indoctrination that has infected our public schools, our entertainment, our media, the uniparty, and nearly every civic commission, committee of “stakeholders,” or other mainstream institutions that today define American culture and determine America’s destiny.

This is a community we must fight for, right now, here in America. Innocent children, and hard-working parents who are raising them in faith. Does America still have a culture left that these Ukrainians care to assimilate into, or must we, if we can ever win, be thankful that their intact communities shall someday provide the model for us to restore our nation?

It was impossible to watch these people, on and off the stage that night, and not wonder what countless tales of tragedy they must carry. And it was impossible as well to not grieve that over there, on this same night, their relatives were still being slaughtered in a fratricidal war. Russians and Ukrainians share a great deal of common heritage, going back to the Kievan Rus in the 11th century. The clash that’s costing so many lives today was not inevitable.

It was not, for example, Russians who killed Ukrainians during the Holodomor, the horrific engineered starvation of an estimated 4 million Ukrainians in the 1930s. It was communists. Central planners, murderous communist fanatics who hijacked a nation, crashed the economy, collectivized – and destroyed – agriculture, then looted the grain producing regions of whatever food remained to supply the cities.

Russians today still remember the 1940s, when German armies overran 700,000 square miles, virtually all of Western Russia and Ukraine, in a war that took the lives of an estimated 14 million Russians and 7 million Ukrainians, along with 2.3 million soldiers and civilians from Belarus, 660,000 from Kazakhstan, and 550,000 from Uzbekistan. From the Mongols in the 13th century, to Napoleon in 1812 and Hitler in 1941, the collective memory of invasions from east and west exerts decisive influence on the character of Russians.

It is in this historical context that Russians view the addition of seven Warsaw Pact nations to NATO between 1989 and 1999. Apart from East Germany, which was reunited with West Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria were expected to remain neutral. Then in 2004, the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were added to NATO. Russians had relied on all these states as buffers between their nation and the West.

It’s perilous to attempt to describe, much less judge the moral worth of each antagonist in the war today between Russia and Ukraine. But it is reasonable to suggest that most Russians, in exchange for their 1989 agreement to peacefully break up the Soviet Union and grant autonomy to their Eastern European satellite nations, did not expect to confront the prospect of NATO bases on their doorstep. A quick look at a map of NATO member states, labeled by year of entry, ought to convey how visceral the threat must seem to a people whose history is defined by apocalyptic invasions.

What can be said, however, is how disgraceful it is for neocon uniparty ghouls to stare into partisan, pro-war media cameras and tell us, here in America, how wonderful it is for Ukrainians to die fighting Russians, so that all we have to do back here in America in order to “weaken Russia” is send them weapons.

Ukrainian nationalism has been stoked and warped by the ambitions of American globalists. Stoked by agents, money and weapons, and warped insofar as Ukrainian nationalism is now a fractious, externally funded coalition with cosmopolitan neoliberals at one extreme and hard-right neo-Nazis at the other. Both factions are now heavily armed and trained and only united in their shared determination to defeat Russia.

The Russian seizure of Crimea, a region for which Ukrainian claims are at the very least debatable, was preceded by the Maidan protests, a pro-Western movement allegedly orchestrated by the Americans. Take a look at maps of the Ukrainian elections of 20102012, and 2014. The pro-Russian candidates and moderately pro-Russian parties consistently prevailed in the south and the east, where, unsurprisingly, Russian speakers dominate. Ukraine was a divided nation in 2014, but might have peacefully forged a neutral path forward. It’s fair to ask which great power first decided that wasn’t acceptable.

And what of globalism, with “free trade,” and a “rules based international order,” or, as a cynic might sneer, the “globohomo” attempt to completely reinvent society? Would anyone today prefer life in Russia or China to life in the United States? That is unlikely, and consequently it is probable that most Ukrainians would rather be part of a Western globalist bloc than under the sway of the Russian Federation. But how long will that preference last?

Ask the Irish, the Dutch, the French, the Swedes, and the Italians, or the people of other European nations overran with migrants and overburdened with globalist restrictions on production of food and fuel. Don’t ask their political leaders, who supposedly speak for them. Ask the common man or woman living there. Ask the people who are now living in a nation they no longer recognize, where their voice is irrelevant, the religion of their ancestors is disparaged, and their votes are so pointless they may as well be living in a “managed democracy” such as they have in Putin’s Russia.

What is in store for Ukraine when this horrific war finally ends? If Zelensky and his Western backers prevail, what will be the fate of a land that’s been hollowed out as much by emigration as by war fatalities? Will they become a sanctuary nation, to be repopulated with African and Muslim refugees? Why not? Isn’t that the globalist playbook, and the obligation of compassionate Christians? And when does compassion become suicide? Shall any homogenous European culture survive the great reset?

These thoughts troubled me as I sat among these Ukrainians. But mostly I was inspired and energized by them. Scarcely acknowledging and profoundly immune to the darkness that eternally seeks to envelop the world, they live with fellowship and adhere to values that American leaders and institutions have abandoned. Their faith is unbreakable. It will never waver. Their joy is stronger than the tribulations they endure, because its source is not of this world. Peace will someday return to their homelands. Meanwhile, we Americans may be rescued by their example.

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: Slavic Woman sleeping on Bench, Ellis Island, New York City, New York, USA, Lewis Wickes Hine, 1905. (Photo by: Circa Images/GHI/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)