The Ukrainian Weekly welcomes letters to the editor and commentaries on a variety of topics of concern to the Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian communities. Opinions expressed by columnists, commentators and letter-writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of either The Weekly editorial staff or its publisher, the Ukrainian National Association. Letters should be typed (doublespaced) and signed (anonymous letters are not published). Letters are accepted also via e-mail at email@example.com. The daytime phone number and complete mailing address of the letterwriter must be given for verification purposes. (A daytime phone number is essential in order for editors to contact letterwriters regarding clarifications or questions.) Please note: The length of letters can- not exceed 500 words. Letters may be edited or abridged.
A 5-year-old puts his ear to the ground on his mother’s grave without shedding a tear. He is probably showing his strength to his two younger sisters, hardly able to walk, as their father buries her. There is no one to help, as the villagers are starving to death. This heartbreaking scene from “Bitter Harvest” has kept me awake, as my own family experienced similar horrors in 1932-1933 in Ukraine. I am just starting to recover from the recent death of my dearest grandmother Hanna, who passed away and joined her brother, Fedir.
The film “Bitter Harvest” provides us with the opportunity to put the spotlight on the topics of Ukraine, genocide and the Holodomor beyond the Ukrainian community among Americans, Canadians, etc. Within the Ukrainian community, the film “Bitter Harvest” is rightfully receiving appropriate attention. Please send film fliers to your American friends, to your high schools, to surrounding American churches; place advertisements in the American press. Perhaps, we need to collect funds to advertise the film in the American media. This film offers us a public relations opportunity to use the words “Ukraine,” “genocide” and “Holodomor.” We do not have many such opportunities.
I am writing in response to the letter titled “No to Stalin beer; join the protest” (February 12), which addresses the labeling of our Russian Imperial Stout. We appreciate the feedback from the community, and would like to assure your readers that this matter has already been addressed by our company. We issued a formal apology to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which first brought this issue to our attention. In that apology, we stated: “Our intentions as a company have always been to create provocative labels, without offending or marginalizing any individual or group. Unfortunately in this instance, we failed in that pursuit, and for that we sincerely apologize.”
We have already undertaken steps to remove the hammer and sickle logo from our label, and all new cans that we produce will have this offending imagery removed.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is selling a beer produced by Nickel Brook Brewery labeled “Bolshevik Bastard,” (Product #406348). Aside from the label being adorned with a Communist hammer and sickle, which for millions of people represents oppression, persecution and even genocide, the label is even more offensive for sporting an image of Stalin, a mass murderer. While I do not disagree he was both a “Bolshevik” and a “bastard,” I find it very offensive, indeed hateful, to find myself in an Ontario government store where I am confronted by the visage of this villain. I cannot imagine that the LCBO would ever allow for Hitler’s image or the Nazi swastika (“Adolf’s Ale?”) to be displayed on any product stocked or sold from any of its stores. In short, this is an utterly unacceptable form of marketing, not only insensitive to the suffering of millions of people who made Canada their home after fleeing Stalinist tyranny but hateful to the memory of those who perished.
It was heartwarming to see the photo in The Weekly (January 8) where U.S. Sens. John McCain, Amy Klobuchar and Lindsey Graham posed with Ukrainian troops. The senators pledged there would be “no Faustian bargain” between the U.S. and Russia that might abandon Ukraine. Unfortunately, these senators’ optimism runs diametrically counter to the agenda of the president-elect. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump stated his fondness for Vladimir Putin.
When I was a child growing up in Ohio, the Christmas Eve service at my mother’s church was always the best part of Christmas – I loved the Christmas Carols. Ever since then I have searched every year for a special choir to bring back that childhood memory. I think I have found that memory once more in the choir at the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Miami. It doesn’t matter if I don’t speak Ukrainian – the beauty of the a cappella harmonies was so uplifting that I didn’t need to understand all of the words. The sweet soprano of the ladies contrasting with the resonant bass and baritone of the men, the blending of voices, the powerful swelling of meaningful moments, the softness of the spiritual – it was all so spellbinding to me.
“In assessing Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election’s most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote,” Eric Chenoweth, co-director of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe, wrote in his Washington Post op-ed on November 25. “Most significantly, U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed that the Russian government directed the illegal hacking of private e-mail accounts of the Democratic National Committee and prominent individuals. The e-mails were then released by WikiLeaks, which has benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
“On October 7, WikiLeaks began near daily dumps from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s e-mail account, generating a month of largely negative reporting on Clinton, her campaign staff, her husband and their foundation,” Mr. Chenoweth noted. ”With some exceptions, there was little news in the e-mail beyond political gossip and things the media had covered before, now revisited from a seemingly ‘hidden’ viewpoint.”
It is particularly disturbing that among those who choose to look away from the Russian government’s active interference in our elections are Americans of Ukrainian descent. Some, like Myron Kuropas (“Lesia Got it Right,” November 20), seem to have accepted indiscriminately the flood of negative reporting on Mrs. Clinton, to suppress their impression that Mr. Trump is “a narcissistic, vulgar oaf, hardly a person to serve as president of the greatest country in the world” and help justify their support of the GOP presidential candidate.
While much attention has been focused in recent months on Russian aggression in Syria and the greater Middle East, it is important to note that members of Congress have not forgotten Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and his annexation of Crimea. Russia’s continuing violent behavior against Ukraine’s sovereign territory, and its people, must be considered a serious threat to the West. As such, we need to ensure that the United States continues to provide significant financial and military assistance to Ukraine and our European partners. Unfortunately, this support for Ukraine has not always been shared by the Obama administration. The House of Representatives recently passed HR 5094, the Stability and Democracy (STAND) for Ukraine Act.
Let’s cut through the hysteria and examine the facts. Long before Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump exchanged compliments, Bill Clinton received a phone call from Mr. Putin in 2010 thanking him personally for delivering a speech for $500,000, paid by a Russian investment bank that was promoting shares in a company that controlled 20 percent of America’s supply of uranium, a critical component in nuclear weapons. The State Department, led by Hillary Clinton, signed off on the deal just two months after her husband’s speech, enabling the Russian state nuclear agency to not only acquire 20 percent of America’s uranium but also own the land in which the deposits are located. She was also secretary of state when $145 million in donations reached the Clinton Foundation from the shareholders of the company that sold America’s uranium. Yet that wasn’t the only money the Clintons raised from the Russians that resulted in the exchange for sensitive materials.
On October 2, I was fortunate to take part in a teleconference of ethnic leaders with former President Bill Clinton. I posed the following question: “Mr. President, I have found Donald Trump’s praise of Putin to be particularly outrageous and disturbing. Many in the Ukrainian American community are alarmed by this rhetoric. But, there are others that think Trump may soften his rhetoric once in office. Do you think Trump will continue to align with Russia and use anti-NATO rhetoric if he were elected president?”
In answering the question, President Clinton stated, “History shows that most candidates do what they say, you can’t vote for someone assuming they won’t do something.” The former president continued with an expanded answer that took into account the political environment that surrounds the current presidential elections.