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Who is (Navalny?) a modern-dayJohn the Baptist?

 

 One may be christened so, as an opposition leader by the New York Times.

"They transformed me from a person who was 'technically alive,'" Mr. Navalny wrote, "into someone who has every chance of again becoming that Highest Form of Existence in Modern Society: a person who is able to quickly scroll through Instagram and knows, without thinking too hard, where to put likes."

Perhaps, not as otherworldly as John the Baptist after all. Recovering from his poisoning, the flash of wit was perfect copy last September for the rise of a Western media darling. 

"He is a boor" countered Russian journalist Dmitry Babich, "a man of bad taste." US Russia relations are in a state of fog. The propaganda filling US media outlets is tantamount to Totalitarian Liberalism, Babich said in an interview with Regis Tremblay, a documentary filmmaker from Maine currently in Yalta, Crimea. "Ideologists view the world through the very narrow prism of their ideology, their interest, like nothing else happens in Russia except Navalny! Talking only about Mr. Navalny is like Soviet Propaganda talking of the inevitability of revolution in Poland in 1920; in Finland in 1929; in Hungry in the 1930s; and it was not the case but the Soviet Press kept pushing the theory." 

With the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, I'm reminded of St. Mary's Battalion, a fighter group in Ukraine recruited with an ideological blend of nationalism and Christianity that a 2015 Intercept report called a Christian Taliban for its selective use of the Bible to support violence and champion those who die for the cause as martyrs. Their chaplain, Father Volodymyr, invoked the words of St. Paul, "if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil." Paul of Tarsus never intended his words to the Romans this way, but that has never stopped Christians from perpetuating the myth of redemptive violence. 

Babich also pointed to Ukraine, criticizing coverage of the Maidan uprising. "American media were calling 'peaceful protesters' those who participated." 38 police officers were killed, with no prosecutions brought according to a special report later that year. "Killed on the spot, and these rioters maimed hundreds of officers; three buildings were burnt to the ground, burning alive several within--the West celebrated, calling them peaceful protesters. Much worst than the attack on the US Capitol recently." 

In the doublespeak of deflecting responsibility from the White House for events occurring January 6, the sanctimonious fidelity offered, I think, a quasi-spiritual dualism separating man from his ex-officio responsibility. Thus, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell vituperatively condemns a man, only minutes after vindicating him.

Given into a heuristic of politics, who are the so-called "heroes" and "villians," the saints and sinners of yesteryear--how to even talk of the prophetic? How to ask the question, I have tried to show, is very problematic. Who is a modern-day John the Baptist?

-*-*-*-*-*-*-

Marcin Marmon, "The Making of a Christian Taliban in Ukraine" <https://theintercept.com/2015/03/18/ukraine-part-3/> accessed 20 Feb. 2021.

Michael Schwirtz, "Putin Critic, Still on Mend, Flashes Wit On Instagram" September 2020.

Steve Stecklow, Oleksandr Alekmenko "Special Report: Flaws Found in Ukraine's Probe of Maidan Massacre" Reuters 10 October 2014. <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-killings-probe-special-report/special-report-flaws-found-in-ukraines-probe-of-maidan-massacre-idUSKCN0HZ0UH20141010>.

Regis Tremblay interview with Dmitry Babich, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5WF6VPd40A&t=7s&ab_channel=RegisTremblay> accessed 20 Feb. 2021.


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