“We will never forgive you for what we’ve done to you.”

John Dolan, the author of Pleasant Hell and the creator of Gary Brecher, the War Nerd, once produced an impassioned diatribe against George Orwell and Christopher Hitchens. It is deeply unfair to Orwell but a great read all the same. The passage I’m interested in isn’t about Orwell specifically; rather, about British writers in general:

I’d be reading along, happy little Anglophile that I was, and suddenly my favorite authors would spew hatred for us, the Irish and the Catholics. It not only hurt, it puzzled me for years. They were the winners, the ones who did the massacres; isn’t it the victims who are supposed to be angry?

Years later I heard a joke that explained it concisely. An Irishman has been bayoneted by a British soldier, and as the Mick dies slowly in a ditch the Brit kicks him over and over, cursing him and wishing him a painful, slow death. With his last breath the Irishman asks, “Why are you so angry at us?” The Brit leans down, whispers, “You swine, we will NEVER forgive you for what we’ve done to you.”

I admit this must be enormously exaggerated, distorted out of proportion and so on, but try replacing “British” with “Russian” and “Irish” with “Ukrainian.” Suddenly it feels just about right.

Still it’s not the whole truth. Putin’s host will never forgive the Ukrainians for resisting the invasion and refusing to surrender. And there’s also good old projection at work: tsunami waves of unlimited projection out of Moscow. Whatever Moscow accuses Kyiv of, you can be certain the Kremlin is guilty of exactly that transgression. So much so that Moscow’s endless accusations are in effect a litany of self-incrimination.

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