Moscow News, №08 2012
Is Russian- Bashing Good
The problem is that critics aren't always unbiased, and are often influenced by stereotypes. Thus, the distinction between candid critique and biased expressions are oftentimes blurred.
This is a natural peculiarity of human beings; we criticize each other and sometimes even offend. Similar is the approach of criticizing whole countries, yet stereotypes have a powerful influence and criticism is often wrapped in general statements and statements that may not be true. What do we think of this biased and unjust critique? The normal reaction is to take offense and to close our ears to accusations.
But I think that is a mistake. The critique may be candid, it may be a kind of advice - and that should be taken into account. Coming to terms with criticism is a way of improving.
Russians have a habit of objecting to expressions of criticism against their perceived disadvantages. They may criticize the motherland themselves to no end, but they don't want foreigners to do it. Even though it can be a candid critique and accords with the opinion of a Russian person - it is likely to be disapproved and denied. The reason is that Russians are accustomed to coping with their problems themselves and prefer to conceal their failings rather than let foreigners expose them. Or perhaps it is an expression of patriotism that doesn't allow a Russian to accept criticism from other nations.
Still, that is the way we understand criticism. Russians are accustomed to hear stereotyped opinions at their own expense and even before reading and hearing critical views we become hostile. Of course that is due to our prejudices, but we should try to listen to the critique - it may bring fresh insight and a new take on affairs and events.
But it is never easy: by shying away from foreign critique Russians are likely to criticize their own country in even sharper and more penetrating ways. They may scold their own country, fellow...