You can always spot the liberators. One of their first demands is you abandon your native tongue in favor of theirs. Say for instance … Russian. Russia was so successful at forcing Soviet satellite states to adopt Russian as the official language that entire generations of schoolchildren never became proficient with the language of their grandparents. Just one more tool in the fascist toolkit designed to erase cultural identity.

“You’re no longer Ukrainian. You’re Russian.”

I witnessed this firsthand back in 1991 in Honduras. The local indigenous peoples (Chorti, Lenca, Miskito, Nahua and others) were being pressured by government officials in Tegucigalpa to learn Spanish – or else. The indigenous people didn’t want to learn Spanish. They were getting along quite nicely with their mother tongues. They’d spoken them for thousands of years. But suddenly, they found themselves denied basic government services such as healthcare. A few villages were burnt to the ground. The message was clear.

“You’re no longer Chorti. You’re Honduran.”

Despite being disinterested, I received a stern lecture on the subject from a drunken Honduran Colonel at an annual Christmas bash hosted by Standard Fruit in La Ceiba. The party was a brilliant success, and I was becoming somewhat proficient at salsa dancing under the tutelage of local ladies until the Colonel and his obnoxious son (a Captain) felt it their patriotic duty to lecture the Yankee gringo on the importance of homogenous culture. The longer the Colonel ranted, the more his bloodshot eyes bulged from his pockmarked, piggish little face. He finally found the good grace to pass out from drink and was carted off back to his villa.

But the Colonel and his son are long dead now, their skulls bashed to jelly on a remote dirt road outside La Masica. Meanwhile, the indigenous peoples of Honduras are still chatting happily away in their native tongues. They really are a lovely people. Gentle as lambs unless unjustly provoked.

Which brings us back to Russia and the liberation of Ukraine. How many more Russian skulls do you suppose will need bashing before the Kremlin finally gets the message Ukrainians are finished with Russia and Russians?

The beat may vary, but the song remains the same …

Randy Clark


Randy Clark, Socorro