They’re indoctrinating school children? How horrible!

It is most peculiar to read an article deploring the use of propaganda in Russian schools. I agree that this practice is sad and dishonest and intended to mislead and miseducate a whole generation…but this is the United States of America.

Russia’s education minister, Sergey Kravtsov, openly described schools as central to Moscow’s fight to “win the information and psychological war” against the West. At the same time, Russia has imposed laws against spreading “fake” news or “discrediting” the Russian armed forces — prompting many journalists and activists to leave Russia.

The country’s Internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, also ordered media outlets to delete reports using the words “invasion” or “war” and only rely on official government sources, which call the Ukraine war a “special operation.” Russian state TV removed all entertainment shows from its programming, filling the broadcasts with propaganda-filled talk shows and state-vetted news.

On March 3, Kravtsov said more than 5 million children across Russia watched a lesson called “Defenders of Peace.” It’s part of a government-produced series broadcast online in schools or given to teachers in the form of a slide show for mandatory lessons. The series includes other episodes, including “Adult Conversation About the World,” all pushing Putin’s historical revisionist speeches justifying the Ukraine invasion.

I grew up having to recite a pledge of allegiance every morning. There are flags everywhere. Go to a baseball game, and someone is going to sing our awful national anthem, and you better stand up for it. Put your hand over your heart and look reverent, damn it. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Remember the blacklist, when you could lose your livelihood for even once attending a communist party meeting? Remember when a television show featured the Tulsa Massacre, and everyone was saying, “What? That was a real historical event?” We had a few generations grow up with the mythologizing of the westward expansion, cowboys & Indians, and the cowboys were always the good guys who shot ‘redskins’ without remorse. Hey, we’ve still got athletic teams that promote ethnic slurs.

In the 1940s, Bugs Bunny was a propaganda tool, a cartoon rabbit who humiliated little yellow bucktoothed ‘Japs’, while in the real world we herded people of Japanese descent into concentration camps.

Our schools dutifully taught that Columbus was a brave explorer who sailed the oceans blue in 1492, glossing over the fact that he enslaved the people he met, murdered them, chopped off their hands, etc. The American Revolution was a noble effort to bring liberty to the people…except for the ones who had the wrong color of skin. Any effort to counter the white-washed version of history taught in the schools is met with near-hysterical opposition — Google the 1619 Project to see what I mean.

I agree that it is disgraceful that Putin is erasing history and lying to schoolkids, but before you get high and mighty about it, look to your classrooms at home.


  1. mistershelden says

    So Russia has a ‘revisionist’ history. Well, at least that’s something. Meanwhile the history of the Ukraine since 2014 has been completely memory-holed in the west.
    Remember Victoria Nuland choosing the 2014 Ukraine prime minister without an election? Remember the Russian language being banned in schools in Russian speaking areas of Ukraine? Remember the 13,000 deaths in Donbass before the recent invasion, ~80% on the Russian-speaking side? Remember the hundreds of thousands of refugees who left Donbass for Russia to escape attacks by Ukraine? Remember the Azov brigade and their political leanings?
    No, no, I thought not.

  2. says

    Why, no, I do remember those things. There’s been a war in the eastern Ukraine since 2014. No one has memory-holed the ongoing conflict.
    They do not excuse tanks rolling through the Ukrainian countryside, or artillery bombarding Ukrainian cities. In fact, it would be far easier to criticize Ukrainian flaws if there weren’t Russians blowing up hospitals right now.

  3. raven says

    Meanwhile the history of the Ukraine since 2014 has been completely memory-holed in the west.

    You have memory holed the history of Russia as well.

    How do you join NATO? You have to ask. You fill out an application. You have to meet the requirements. All NATO countries vote on it and it has to be unaminous. It costs the member nations money to meet the defense requirements. NATO members can leave any time they want.

    How do you join the Russian block?
    Russia sends in their army whether you like it or not. They attack civilians, infrastructure, and reduce cities to rubble. You had no choice but to join and you are not free to leave ever. Russia is currently occupying 20% of Georgia. They stole Crimea from Ukraine. They are occupying two areas of Ukraine already and trying to take the country over.

    There is a big difference. One is a voluntary association and the other is aggression and land theft by force of arms.

  4. chrislawson says

    Oh, yet another Putin troll. Don’t be fooled by the attempt to make the War in Donbas a causus belli for Putin since it, itself, was an act of military aggression started by Russia for the purpose of seizing Ukrainian territory. It takes chutzpah to start a war killing 14,000 people and then use those deaths to justify a much larger and more destructive invasion.

  5. chrislawson says

    Also, the Azov Battalion formed in 2014 as a direct response to the Russian annexation of Donbas. The Azov Battalion must be destroyed, but we can’t achieve that by stoking the flames that created it in the first place.

  6. chrislawson says

    And finally, it is true that the US (along with most other nations) recognised the unelected provisional Ukrainian government after the overthrow of Yanukovych, but only as a temporary measure until new elections could be held. This interregnum lasted from February to May 2014. So roughly three months. Which shows that the Ukrainian polity is capable of keeping its democratic promises, unlike a certain sociopath who repeatedly told the world he was not going to invade while he amassed his forces on the border.

  7. says

    There’s a good chance anyone who has been even vaguely paying attention to the current crisis has seen multiple references to the Azov Battalion. Given some of the European right wing groups that have received Russian money I’d be entirely unsurprised if the Azov Battalion has too.

  8. KG says


    Meanwhile the history of the Ukraine since 2014 has been completely memory-holed in the west.

    Kind of you to include such an obvious lie. There are multiple western sources that criticise the role of the USA and in particular Victoria Nuland in the overthrow of Yanukovych in 2014. Here’s one, chosen just because I happened to read it today and so have it handy. The Azov brigade (or battalion) has been discussed repeatedly on this site, among many other places, including since the Russian invasion. I don’t know where you get your figures for deaths in Donbas, because you haven’t given a source, but the “~80% on the Russian-speaking side” claim (actually, there are plenty of first-language Russian speakers west of the pre-full-scale-invasion de facto frontier), doesn’t seem to tally with the claims of the Russians and the separatists themselves.

    Remember the hundreds of thousands of refugees who left Donbass for Russia to escape attacks by Ukraine?

    I remember reports of a lot of people leaving. How many, and why (whether to escape attacks by Ukraine, or because the authorities in the self-styled “People’s Republics” made them), I don’t know, because I only have the story given by those who subsequently launched a full-scale war, which they with ludicrous dishonesty refuse to admit is a war.

  9. StevoR says

    @1. mistershelden :

    Dude, You might want to wait for a reply before you answer your own question and assume you know what people remember.

    Not least because we have RuSSian trolls here reminding us all about that one neo-nazi battalion in a nation with a Jewish Poresident who is the grandson of survivors of the Shoah about every three point 5 seconds some hyperbole may aply) so, yeah, we know.

    Now remind me, because I have about a goldfishes memory right now, which nation invaded and bombed which and is trying to take over which here again?

  10. says

    StevoR, I love how you use RuSSia capitalization :D

    Yeah, US is sometimes shitty, but I remember being taught in school and seeing the tv news when being part of the Warsaw Pact and there is no comparison.
    It’s like prosecutin Chelsea Manins, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden vs outright killing, shooting, poisoning or throwing out of the window journalist who are trying to expose the regime and jailing hundreds of those who do not tow the party line. Both are bad, one is worse.

    About Azov Battallion, just watch this. Worth it:

  11. andrei613 says

    An additional point on the American ‘Revolution’.

    The around one fifth of colonists who did not support it were essentially ethnically cleansed and pushed over the borders into what is now Ontario.

    About 100,000 Loyalists left the country, including William Franklin, the son of Benjamin, and John Singleton Copley, the greatest American painter of the period. Most settled in Canada. Some eventually returned, although several state governments excluded the Loyalists from holding public office. In the decades after the Revolution, Americans preferred to forget about the Loyalists. Apart from Copley, the Loyalists became nonpersons in American history.,white%20population%20of%20the%20colonies.

    Loyalist is a lower-tier township municipality in central eastern Ontario, Canada on Lake Ontario. It is in Lennox and Addington County and consists of two parts: the mainland and Amherst Island. It was named for the United Empire Loyalists, who settled in the area after the American Revolution.

  12. StevoR says

    @ ^ andrei613 : Interesting info there. Did not know that.

    On the founding of the USA, I do vaguely recall there was a second ship the Speedwell that turned around and didn’t settle at Plymouth Rock and that also wasn’t the first European or even English settlement.

    Jim Wright has an excellent, memorable account of the real history behind the Thanksgiving legends here too :

    Which I’d highly recommend BTW.

    @10.Gorzki : StevoR, I love how you use RuSSia capitalization.

    Thanks but I can’t claim credit for that – yoiked that from someone else here on an earlier thread, sorry but forgotten exactly who now,.

  13. KG says


    Very much worth reading is Simon Schama’s Rough Crossings, about slaves who fled their American slaveowners to take refuge with (and in some cases fight for) the British (who had offered such slaves their freedom) during the Revolutionary War. Some were betrayed and sold back into slavery in the West Indies, some recaptured, but many were first taken to Nova Scotia – where they did not get the land they had been promised – then some to Britain itself, and eventually, the majority to Sierra Leone in west Africa, where the men, and even some of the women, became the first black people to have the vote within the British Empire – although IIRC they later lost this right.

    On the wider story of European colonisation of North America and the early years of the USA, I recommend Alan Taylor’s American Colonies and American Revolutions, which show how the (relative) socio-economic equality between the British colonists depended on systematic exploitation of and contempt for black and indigenous people (who were in turn far from passive victims) – including by the revered “Founding Fathers”, practically all of whom were slaveowners, speculators in land to be stolen from the Indians, or (like George Washington), both.

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    StevoR @12: Pretty sure it was Gorzki who first used ‘ruSSia’ hereabouts.

  15. StevoR says

    @ R. L. Foster : See also :

    @ KG : Simon Schama is excellent – haven’t read that but have seen him in a doco or two here in Oz. I know its fiction but Roots (the stories of several generations of African Americans which Isa w as aTV series here) was also a powerful one that showed a very different and moving perspective when it coems to the historyof tehUSA whichas an Aussie I didn’t really get to learn in school. Did study Classics – ancient Greece & Rome and modern European history & Australian history tho’ FWIW.

    @ Rob Grigjanis : Okay. Thanks.

  16. KG says

    The article is euphemistic. They are fascists. The Nazi symbols they use are Nazi symbols. It’s true their political wing got a pretty derisory vote in 2019, but tolerating a fascist militia as part of the armed forces is a real blot on Ukraine’s record. As is the widespread admiration for the Nazi collaborator and terrorist Stepan Bandera. Revulsion at the brutal Russian invasion and support for the resistance to it should not blind us to the worrying aspects of Ukranian political culture.

  17. Artor says

    I personally give very few shits about what people believe, and put a lot more weight on what they do. If American fundagelicals stopped trying to destroy our public schools and molest children, I wouldn’t care that they are ignorant and delusional. If the Azov battalion is busy defending their country against the Russian invasion, I don’t care that they are Nazi fuckwits. At least they’re doing something useful now, and if Ukraine can secure their democracy in the face of this unprovoked assault, then maybe they can address the fascists in their midst when they have the luxury of putting them down. Their presence is no more justification for the invasion than the presence of Nazis in the US would be for Russia to invade us here.

  18. KG says

    What people believe affects what they do. Given the opportunity, fascists will persecute those they hate or despise.

    Their presence is no more justification for the invasion than the presence of Nazis in the US would be for Russia to invade us here.

    I agree, and I never said it justified the invasion. But you are eliding an important difference: the US has not incorporated openly fascist militia into the armed forces.

    I’d listened to it already. It did not convince me we should, or indeed can successfully, minimise the significance of Ukraine’s armed forces including an openly fascist formation.

  19. StevoR says

    @ 21. KG : Huh. Meanwhile in old Aussie news :


    & from the old US of A :

    From the other ABC..

    Whelp, guess keeping it quiet is better eh? How open does it need to be exactly & how “secret” is okay again?

  20. xohjoh2n says


    That’s what you took away from it? I don’t think it did suggest any such minimisation.

  21. nobgu says


    I think it does, though I don’t think it is deliberate. It is omitting the information that there are other ex-irregular units that are also problematic (i.e. ultra nationalist, funded by oligarch). It also minimizes the impact of ultra nationalist groups on Ukrainian public policy. Yes, the 2019 election was not a sucess for them, but it wasn’t a sucess for all existing parties, because it was a landslide victory of newly elected, independent (to a degree) president Zelenskyy’s new movement (somewhat similar to what happened in France after the election of Macron). About 80% of elected candidates were new to parliament according to wikipedia. It was also a snap election with a short campaign. It is not unreasonable to assume that without the war a current election result would look quite different especially for the ultra nationalist parties considering that Zelenskyy had difficulties to fulfil the important campaign promise of bringing peace to the Donbas (which is not primarily his fault, but some of his compromises were decidedly unpopular) and that the ultra nationalists seem to be well connected in Ukrainian politics (often linked by oligarch connections).

    I also would have liked if the video to mention the fact that the Azov Batallion has been known to recruit nazis from other countries. It is not that super important in itself, but relevant context.

    So, while the Russians are definitely the bad guys here, there are significant problems on the Ukrainian side, especially among the groups that advocate for war, which nationalists are prone to do, simply because they are nationalists (aka idiots). And they don’t need to be ultra for that, e.g. the Klitschko brothers are cheering the war on (and looking like they enjoy themselves while doing it; well international media praises them as heroes, how should they know that it’s just toxic masculinity). And AFAICT that is making the situation for people significantly worse. Civilians in e.g. Melitopol or Kherson are obviously not in a good situation, but at least they have not all been killed or reduced to spoils of war without agency and are doing significant damage to the invader’s morale through mostly non-violent resistance. OTOH the presence of the Azov batallion is one of the reasons Mariupol is beeing reduced to rubble. I don’t see any good coming from their fight. The reason Russia had lost the war even before it began is not the military resistance (which might be speeding it up, but at a significant cost), but the fact that Ukrainians simply don’t want to be assimilated. AFAICT there never was a chance of installing a Russia friendly government again.

    Nazis obviously are not a valid excuse for this war, but they very much do contribute to the suffering, because they are nazis, seeing civilians as expendable, glorifying war, etc. The video omits that important fact.