Sunday, August 24, 2014

As Usual, Reason Magazine Doesn’t Know What It’s Talking About

By Marko Marjanović on August 24th, 2014

Ever since the ongoing armed rebellion in East Ukraine began the beltarian reason.com has busied itself with relaying the war propaganda of Washington which is backing the Kyiv government against the rebels. It would be unfair, however, to claim that is all it has done, because aside from transmitting poor American-made propaganda it has also relayed some equally poor propaganda from Russia.

Doing research on a related topic, I accidentally stumbled upon a June 11th blog post there titled “Pro-Russian Separatists Are Flying the Confederate Flag. Why?“. In the piece the Reason contributor Zenon Evans takes at face value the claim of a Moscow Times article by Alexev Eremenko (“Ukrainian Rebels Channel U.S. Confederates“) that one of the flags that the Ukrainian rebels in Eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region are using is based on the flag of the Confederate States of America.

Flag in use by rebels in East Ukraine
Evans reports this as fact and spends the rest of his article attempting to wrap his mind around the quixotic question of why the “pro-Russian seperatists” would fly “this loaded American artifact.” (Why indeed?) In the end he settles on the explanation that the Eastern Ukrainian rebels are doing so in order to send a coded message to conservatives and racists (to prove his point, Evans links to a Stormfront discussion topic) in America who “praise Putin’s conservative manliness” and see Russia as a “cultural ally.”

Tellingly, although Evans fails to think of a reason why the rebels in Donbass would rally behind the Confederate flag that is not utterly bizarre, he nonetheless fails to consider the possibility that this reported fact is, in fact, disinformation. Why would he? After all, it serves to inter-connect so many of those he dislikes. The confederates are evil, conservative Americans who disagree with Washington’s foreign policy are evil, any “pro-Russian fighters” are surely also evil. It makes perfect sense in the warped, naive, paranoid and feeble mind of Zenon Evans that these disparate groups would gravitate to each other and send each other coded messages.

Somehow Evans is willing to imagine that thousands of fighters in Donbass are willing to risk their life and limb under a “loaded American artifact,” rather than something relating to their own history, as a gesture and an appeal to American stormfronters and The American Conservative. Why, you would almost think Evans was looking to smear the conservatives and Ukrainian rebels alike by doing a little old fashioned guilt by association.

The American Confederate flag
Unfortunately for these designs, there is a little thing I like to call a “30 second Google search” that gets in the way of Evans’ hypothesis. It turns out that the flag used by the “pro-Russian separatists” is actually based on the Russian naval jack. Imagine that! “Pro-Russian separatists” are flying a flag grounded in Russian, rather than American, history. Why, I’m in shock!

It turns out that in the early 1700s, Peter the Great built the first modern Russian navy and drew up the flags for it. He chose the St. Andrew’s cross in blue on white background for the Russian naval ensign, but combined the St. Andrew’s cross with a thin St. George’s cross in white on red background for the Russian naval jack and fortress flag, thus producing a mainly red flag that is dominated by a large St. Andrew’s cross in blue.

The Russian navy jack and fortress flag (1721-1924 and 1992-present)
Peter the Great was a famous westernizer of Russia and probably drew inspiration from the flag of Great Britain, design-wise. Aside from that, Saint Andrew is the “Apostle of Rus,” the early medieval state of all the East Slavs that was ruled from Kyiv but stretched over much of today’s Ukraine, Belarus and European Russia. Meanwhile St. George is the patron saint of Moscow and is featured atop a horse on its coat of arms, which has been an integral part of the Russian coat of arms over the centuries. So then, what the rebels in Eastern Ukraine did was take inspiration from the Russian naval jack and fortress flag, but stripped it of the St. George’s cross which is more relevant to Moscow and Russian statehood, but kept the St. Andrew’s cross which is equally relevant to Russians and Ukrainians alike.

Despite the naiveté of Zenon Evans, the Eastern Ukrainian rebels are not flying American Confederate colors. Rather, they are flying colors that have been hoisted since 1701 by the bases of, and since 1721 on the bowsprits of the vessels of, the Russian navy. And to think, a 30 second Google search was all that Evans needed to prevent coming off as the dunce, ignoramus, smear artist and hack that he is!

Note the jack is mounted bowside

[featured image credits: Monument on a glass cupola in Menezhnaya Square to Saint George and the Dragon, patron of Moscow via Wikipedia]

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