A few days ago, I raised questions that stem from the standing ovation for Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian veteran of the SS in the Canadian parliament (https://www.pressenza.com/2023/09/a-nazi-on-the-parliament-hill-is-an-antidote-to-self-righteousness/) . These questions deserve answers. Here are some of them.

How is it that the background of this unrepented Nazi – he wrote in blogs in 2010 and 2011 that the years spent under the SS colours were the best years of his life – had become invisible to those who arranged his invitation to the Canadian parliament? The answer is the mainstream media presentation of the war as a conflict between Good and Evil. Obviously, the Good cannot be suspected of harbouring Nazi skeletons in the closet. If there is no longer even a pretense of even-handedness in the covering of the Ukraine war in Western media, there is no reason to expect a politician to dare have a critical approach to anyone or anything Ukrainian.

Thus, mainstream media ignore Nazi insignia on the uniforms of certain units of the Ukrainian army. This Manichean view of the essentially geopolitical conflict impede a clearer understanding of and, more importantly, a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament eliminated a diplomatic solution by means of a decision to ban negotiations with Russia. Without formally doing as much, Western powers have cornered themselves into a dead end: it is impossible to negotiate with Russia, painted in much of the Western media as the Evil incarnate. Moral indignation has replaced geopolitical rationality.

In presenting Hunka, the speaker of the Parliament in Ottawa said, “We have here in the chamber today a Ukrainian Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today even at his age of 98.” Fighting against the Russians has become a supreme moral value. The fact that Hunka had volunteered for the SS unit does not, in the mainstream view in the West, invalidate his heroism in “fighting against the Russians”. In today’s frenzied climate, having fought in a SS unit pales in comparison with being blamed as a “Putin’s apologist” for calling for an end of hostilities.

Moreover, continuing efforts have been made in Eastern Europe to equate the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Monuments to Soviet soldiers who had freed Eastern Europe from Nazism in 1944-45 have been systematically removed and destroyed. Energies spent to efface historical memory have borne fruit both in Europe and elsewhere. East European diasporas in Canada, many of them tainted with collaboration with Nazism, have erected monuments to Nazis, who fought against the Soviet Union. While a monument to the victims of communism was erected on the Parliament Hill, there seem to be no plans to build a monument to the victims of fascism. Less informed people may simply forget that Canada fought alongside the Soviet Union against the fascists during the Second World War.

This is not innocent ignorance but a result of consistent whitewashing of fascist tendencies in the ethnic nationalism in Eastern Europe. One of those who, since her young age, took part in this whitewashing is Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister of Canada, a powerful éminence grise and an unabashed Ukrainian nationalist. She has so far been eloquently silent about the scandal in the parliament. If the ovation for the Nazi had passed without protest or controversy, this would have become a crucial milestone on the path to rehabilitation of fascism.

This effort goes beyond exculpating Canada from having welcomed hundreds of Nazis in the aftermath of the Second World War. Zelensky said on the same occasion in the parliament, that Canada should be proud to have always been “on the bright side of history” (he probably meant “right” instead of “bright”, but this hardly matters). On that sunny side of history, one apparently finds offering safe haven to Nazis fleeing retribution for crimes against humanity committed during the war.

All this concerns more than history. This rehabilitation opens the way to wholesale scapegoating of ethnic, national, and religious groups, even entire countries and their culture. Canceling Tchaikovsky and Pushkin in the West dovetails with removing Russian books from public libraries in Ukraine. Both are a grim reminder of the banning of Jewish composers and the burning of Jewish books in Germany in the 1930s. Demonization of “the other”, practiced by the Europeans for centuries on their own continent and in their colonies, is raising its head again. Hatred is dressed up as moral indignation reflecting “progressive European values”. The pretext, as in the past centuries, is impeccable: a war against the Evil.