November 29, 2006

Alexander Litvinenko & The Russians

I've been getting lots of e-mails for the past few days urging me to link to stories about Alexander Litvinenko the former spy who was recently poisoned. I haven't. Here's why.

I spent some time in Russia. I went to a University there for a year. Which means I know Russians.

Their idea of 'truth' is not our idea of 'truth'. It's more like truthiness (Yeah, The Jawa Report now rhymes with poor).

For instance, students would routinely cheat on tests. But no one considered it cheating. Different cultural definitions of honesty, I guess. Same applies to stealing.

So, when Russians come out saying they know who was behind Litvinenko's poisoning, I just roll my eyes and shrug. People in Russia talk that way: "everybody knows that" [insert crazy idea here, especially ones blaming people from the Caucuses, Jews, the Mafia, etc.].

Did Putin's thugs kill Litvinenko? Maybe. Was it the mafia? Maybe. Was it nuclear smugglers trying to shut him up? Maybe? Did he poison himself in a final look-at-me-I'm-important act? Maybe. Did a Putin follower rid him of this pesky ex-spy without Putin's approval? Maybe.

The truth is, I don't know. Russians are like Arabs. Scratch a Russian, and underneath is a Tatar, or so the saying goes. Even when multiple sources verify the same event, it's still best to remain skeptical. Because there is such a thing as social truth. That is, everyone lying about the same thing because the lie fosters the truth.

I'm out of this fight until a lot more is the Western sense of the word. It is a strange and compelling story, but one in which I'd much rather remain a spectator in.

But, if you just want to keep up on the facts as they emerge, you might want to try AJ Stata's place out.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:16 AM | Comments |