Friends, for the remainder of 2014, I will send articles to help us examine the nature of the U.S.-Russia relationship and how it has developed over the past 130 years. Until we understand the differences in the evolution of these two cultures, we cannot hope to untangle the current picture which is now dangerous for the entire world. Until we understand the impact of public media on the relationship between the two countries, we will be hopelessly trapped in a mesh of misunderstandings and misinterpretations.We must find ways to hold journalists responsible for irresponsible headlines and faulty war-making scenarios.Sharon Tennison
The following is from Dr. David Fogleson, Rutgers' University Historian, specializing in U.S.-Russia history.Fogelson is author of "The American Mission and the Evil Empire".
The Transformation of Post-Soviet Russia’s Image in the United States: Domestic and International Challenges
Dark Pictures are Easy to Paint: Journalists and American Images of post-Soviet Russia in Historical Perspective
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Convention
San Antonio, Texas, November 2014
Prelude: Arthur Hays Sulzberger and Soviet Russia,
In the summer of 1929, the daughter and son-in-law of the publisher of The New York Times traveled to Russia, where they spent ten memorable days. In a long and fascinating letter about the journey, Arthur Hays Sulzberger began with warnings: he cautioned that to be dogmatic about Russia would “lead one into dangerous pitfalls” and declared that “Russia must be compared with Russia and with no other land.” Wise words! Yet Sulzberger could not heed his own warnings. Piqued that there was only one restaurant at Tsarskoe Selo, he proclaimed the superiority of a system with private initiative: Russia, he declared, “can only move as fast as her government whereas we spur our government to action.” Disappointed by the colorless fair at Nizhni Novgorod, Sulzberger grumbled that a “country fair in the U.S. is more interesting and better done.” Repelled by the dirt, disorder, ignorance, inefficiency, and lack of freedom he saw, Sulzberger ended by pronouncing: “Let them show you their best and multiply it by two … and still they can’t show you enough or hide from you sufficient to make you want to see the color red in anything but the company of white and blue.”[i] Sulzberger thus vented emotions and ideas that would figure prominently in The Times’s representations of Russia in the following decades, including insistence on the superiority of free enterprise capitalism, scorn for Russian ways of living, and contrasts of Russia to America that affirmed the virtues of the United States.