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These bad takes on the Russia-Ukraine conflict reveal a lot about pundits' biases

Many TV commentators in disbelief over Russia's attack on Ukraine shared views that smacked of racism.


In their passionate responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, several white pundits on television expressed disbelief that such fighting would ever erupt in a European country. 

If your news feed is anything like mine, you saw a few of them being dragged on social media, but here are a few reminders: 

Below is CBS reporter Charlie D’Agata talking about “civilized” Ukraine in relation to Iraq or Afghanistan. He later apologized.

And here’s Ukraine’s former deputy prosecutor general on BBC, explaining how emotional he became after seeing “European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed."

This reporter for a British TV network expressed disbelief that war was unfolding in Ukraine even though it's not a "third world nation."

Taken together, the responses exhibited mystifying, racist ignorance. Ukraine, in fact, does have a history of violence stemming from its quest for independence. That’s the impetus behind its current conflict with Russia. 

The ignorance so outraged the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association that it issued a response to the raft of comments Sunday.

“AMEJA condemns and categorically rejects orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is ‘uncivilized’ or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict," the group said.

Not only are majority-white nations capable of dysfunction and brutality, but — get this — a great many of them have and continue to demonstrate that capability quite often. 

Both World War I and World War II broke out in Europe. The German dictator’s name was Adolf Hitler, after all — not Arturo or Abu.

The American Revolution and the Civil War easily come to mind as two brutal wars, with the latter being waged over Southern whites’ self-proclaimed ownership of nonwhite people. In another example, just last week, Joy referenced the Winter War, a brutal fight between Finland and the then-Soviet Union following World War II. We can point to the Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary group that carried out a campaign of bombings against the British in the mid-to-late-20th century, as another example. And this is to say nothing of the colonial wars waged by majority-white countries against nonwhite ones — the kinds that destabilize victimized countries and trap them in the web of violence that ignorant white observers described over the weekend.

Simply put: People in majority-white countries are not newcomers to brutality in a historical sense. People in majority-nonwhite countries do not inherently expect violence to befall them. 

Anyone confused about this would be better served reading a book than offering wartime opinions on TV.