Are Americans Less Wary Of Russia?
April 18, 2018
Looking for an interesting way to spend a lunch hour? And a great way to get globally informed? Great Decisions 2018, sponsored by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis, may be just the ticket — and the Thursday noon sessions are free to the public.
Russia was on the agenda when I attended on April 5. Saint Louis University Professor Ellen Carnaghan had the floor and she focused on Russian elections. She was in Moscow recently to study the contest in which Vladimir Putin recently rolled up more than 70 percent of the vote for another six-year term.
Carnaghan, who heads the SLU political science department, said it's a little strange to study an election when results are pre-ordained and any serious rival candidates are disqualified from the running. The professor profiled the rivals who qualified for the contest, who were there for window dressing.
Of course, the real surprise of the election was the phone call from Donald Trump congratulating Putin for his resounding victory. Another surprise was Trump's invitation to the Kremlin leader to visit the White House. Both of these actions might have sparked outrage, if taken by other U.S. Presidents.
St. Louis used to be a hotbed for some conservative organizations angry with Russian subterfuge and espionage. Groups ranging from the John Birch Society to the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation railed against the perfidy of Russians and their U.S. stooges.
John Stormer of St. Louis wrote the call to arms, "None Dare Call It Treason." He urged Republicans to confront the Russian challenge and to try to wake up the duped Democrat fellow travelers.
At the discussion on Russia held at the Ethical Society, I asked Carnaghan what happened to all the outrage over Russia. Her remarks were interesting.
She suggested that without its former communist ideology, Americans are less wary of Russia. She hinted that this may be more than a little foolhardy.
She also said her own students are less upset with Putin and his autocracy because they're not impressed with our own governing system, which seems far from ideal and often dysfunctional.
Once upon a time, some Americans armed themselves for an impending Russian invasion. Some Americans now think they have to be armed to defend against the "deep state" and U.S. government tyranny. State legislators seem ready to oblige them by passing laws to allow guns everywhere.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson recently joined mayors from around the country to denounce the gun lunacy that comes out of state capitals. House Bill 1936 in Missouri would allow guns in college classrooms, churches, day care centers and more – whether they are wanted in these locations or not.
Krewson helped author an opinion piece in USA Today that stated: "Let us be clear: Our states are choosing the National Rifle Association over your lives and safety. And right now, we're powerless to stop them."
Krewson and the mayors noted the irony of state legislators giving lip service to "local control," while voiding city regulations on guns, non-discrimination ordinances, minimum wage hikes and environmental protections.
Krewson and the mayors concluded: "America's young people demand their elected officials do their job and keep them safe. We owe it to those who have lost their lives to gun violence ..."
U.S. mayors were recently joined by America's Catholic bishops who are saying "time's up" for lawmakers who serve the NRA, and not the 75 percent of citizens who want sensible gun laws.
St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson issued a statement urging state legislators "to seriously consider reasonable and sensible gun regulations in order to protect human life from the kind of gun violence we are currently experiencing in our country."
The St. Louis mayor and archbishop have the people behind them. But the odds are with gun lobby money that makes our democracy dysfunctional.
(Krewson's take on guns can be found in the March 23rd USA Today. If you want to attend the next World Affairs Council event, it's set for April 25 when Washington University Professor Matthew Gabel will speak on "Challenges To Global Health.")