Reader’s letter: Russia fear still with us


Gerrie Myburgh writes:

The war in Ukraine is a complex conflict and it requires a deep understanding of the country’s history, politics, economy and culture to be able to analyze it properly.

It also includes an understanding of Russia’s role in the conflict, as well as the interests and policies of other countries such as the United States and the European Union.

However, most Afrikaans media outputs often lack this level of insight and knowledge. In many cases, reports about the war are based on superficial, incomplete or even distorted information.

These reports often focus on sensational aspects of the conflict, such as violence and human suffering, rather than attempting to analyze its underlying causes and implications.

There is also a general lack of critical thinking in many of these reports. This means that they don’t question or challenge, but instead blithely repeat what others say. This approach contributes to a simplified and one-sided view of the conflict.

It is certainly possible for African media to do a better job reporting on the war in Ukraine. However, this will require them to spend more time and effort informing themselves about the issues involved, exercise more creative thinking in their analysis, and provide more balance by presenting different perspectives.

It is common for propagandists of any kind to use selective facts to promote their messages. This applies to anti-Russian propagandists, just as it applies to those who target any other country or group.

For example, anti-Russian propagandists may choose to talk only about Russia’s military actions in places like Ukraine or Syria, without discussing the geopolitical context in which these actions take place. They may also choose to highlight only negative stories about Russia, while ignoring positive developments.

This does not mean that all criticism against Russia is invalid. But it is important to be aware of how propaganda works and how it can affect our perceptions. It is always a good idea to check different sources of information and look critically at all claims, regardless of origin.

The term “A Russian under every bed” comes from the period of the Cold War when there was an intense fear of communism in the West. It refers to the idea that there was a communist spy in every nook and cranny, ready to overthrow the Western way of life.

Like many propaganda techniques, it also worked by reinforcing existing prejudices – in this case against Russia and China – and presenting these countries as a threat to the Western way of life.

Russophobia, as portrayed by Western media, is a continuation of the Cold War era’s anti-communist fear. It is clear that this fear and distrust of Russia still persists in contemporary Western society.