Nazi collabo families and racist propaganda in the New York Times

A Russophobic New York Times journalist married to Canada’s powerful Nazi-loving Deputy Prime Minister? It was a match made in heaven!

Last week’s cynical revisionist Holocaust tweeting by Chrystia Freeland — one of the most powerful politicians in Canada — reminded me of something I wanted to write about a while back.

A few months ago, I was having dinner with a journalist colleague at my favorite Ukrainian collaborationist emigre restaurant in the East Village. We were discussing the insane xenophobia that permeates America’s media coverage about Russia. Talk turned to a New York Times “culture” piece about Russia’s supposed infiltration of American universities that had run just a few days earlier.

Written by a reporter named Graham Bowley, the article appeared in in the Arts section and focused on a cultural program that had been set up at the American University in DC by a wealthy American donor with some minimal cooperation from the Russian embassy.

The program seemed pretty innocuous. It sought to introduce college students to Russian culture and foster cultural exchange with America — stuff like music, literature, and cinema. But to Graham and The New York Times, it was a dangerous sign that the Russians were infiltrating America and poisoning young American minds with dangerous pro-Putin propaganda.

The article had nothing that was even close to resembling evidence. But it had a lot of unsourced innuendo. As proof that something sneaky and insidiousness was going on, Graham noted that for a time the program’s cultural events served…alcohol! He also quoted students saying positive things about the program. Shocking stuff like this: “The general message is open-mindedness and unity,” one political science student explained. “The only stuff I knew about Russia was all negative. I wanted to get outside my comfort zone.” Red Alert! Call the feds!

This stuff is pretty mundane. Embassies constantly host cultural events — and that includes America. Usually the point is to grease the wheels of diplomacy through culture. Maybe there’s a bit of spy stuff thrown in from time to time. It’s not a secret. Everyone does it.

But to Graham Russia is somehow different. The problem for him isn’t about what was being said. It was about what wasn’t being said. The program was devious and dangerous to young American minds because it was showing Russia’s good cultural side in order to hide the horror of what Russia was really doing in the world.

To prove his point, he solicited commentary from Anders Aslund — the Atlantic Council neocon hack who had guided and cheered the oligarchic privatization of Russia back in the 1990s and who recently got busted in a pay-to-play scheme whitewashing Russian money laundering through Latvian backs. Anders told Graham that this kind of “one-sided” cultural exchange fit right in with Russia’s malicious plans to undermine American democracy. He argued that to deal with a devious entity like Russia, you needed to enforce the balancing of any positive cultural display with a presentation about all the bad things that Russia has done in the world, like annexing Crimea. (Actually, this is a pretty radical notion. Wonder what Anders would say if Russia or other governments demanded that American cultural events be prefaced with with expositions about, say, America’s war crimes in the Iraq War or America’s funding of ISIS-adjacent rebels in Syria.)

The article was a ridiculous attempt at pumping up paranoia and cultural protectionism, while elevating Russia to a powerful entity that poses a unique and almost mystical threat to the America way of life — an enemy that has be vigilantly watched and countered where ever it reared its head.

To be honest it read like a shitty, half-backed parody of a Red Scare. And it would’ve been funny — if it wasn’t so damaging. The truth is that paranoid, xenophobic stuff like this comes off the liberal media conveyor belt everyday single day. It’s toxic and poisons people’s minds — and makes it easier for our government to justify and sell our ongoing undeclared war against Russia to the public.

As we got our food, I realized that I recognized Graham Bowley’s name. I had read something by him before. Evgenia had come across a New York Times article a few months earlier that had riffed on the same xenophobic theme of Russian infiltration. In it Graham wrote about the danger that wealthy Russians posed to democracy through their funding of art and cultural exhibits in America.

His argument boiled down to this: Russian billionaires who underwrite art exhibits are uniquely dangerous to democracy. Why? Because they do it not out of love for culture, but because Putin tells them to do it. And Putin, as everyone knows, wants to subvert democracy. As for billionaires of other nationalities and ethnicities — whether American, German, or French? Well, to Graham, they’re not dangerous at all. Non-Russian billionaires are good billionaires who fund culture because they appreciate it and enjoy it. These non-Russian billionaires love culture for culture’s sake — not because they seek to infiltrate or subvert democracy. But Russian billionaires (actually four out of the six billionaires Graham identifies as “Russian” are actually Soviet Jews) are different. They are not like us. They don’t understand, nor love culture for culture’s sake. They only fund culture to meddle. They should be feared and, if possible, stopped.

I remember Evgenia being shocked by the blatant racism that was being printed in the New York Times — in the Arts section, no less. She has long criticized the power that Russian oligarchs have over Russian culture. They had stolen Russia’s physical wealth and now use their riches to buy up and privatize and control Russia’s cultural wealth as well. But to her, Graham wasn’t making a political argument about the corrupt, global oligarch-controlled art world. He wasn’t criticizing the power that the global rich have over our culture — which they do not just in Russia but everywhere in the world. He was making a specifically racialized argument: these “Russian” billionaires should be feared not because they are billionaires but because they’re “Russian.” Evgenia had never seen anything like that in the New York Times before.

Four out of the six oligarchs that Graham Bowley identifies as “Russian” are actually Soviet Jews — one of whom was born in Soviet Ukraine.

“This guy just publishes disgusting nativist garbage,” I said, as I started chowing down.

“Isn’t he married to…what’s her name…to Canada’s foreign minister. Chrystia Freeland,” my reporter friend said.

My eyes bulged and I nearly choked on my veal goulash.

“Can’t be. No way.”

“Yes, I think he is.”

I simply could not believe it. It was too perfect, too good to be true. A Russophobic New York Times journalist married to Canada’s powerful Nazi-loving Deputy Prime Minister? It was a match made in heaven!

I got home and did some googling and the facts checked out.

Chrystia Freeland has recently been promoted from Canada’s Foreign Minister to Deputy Prime Minister. She’s one of the most powerful people in the government. And as I wrote last week, she has some serious unrepentant Nazi skeletons living in her family collaborationist closet.

Chrystia maternal grandfather — Michael Chomiak — was a Nazi collabo and a fascist propagandist. His Nazi-controlled paper praised Hitler, ran giant ads for Ukrainian SS recruitment, spread antisemitic propaganda, pumped out vile garbage that helped justify the mass slaughter of Jews, Poles and Russians. Chrystia has know about her grandpa’s Nazi past, yet she has spent most of her career whitewashing his past, praising his legacy, and talking about the positive influence he’s had on her political outlook, especially towards Russia. And when her grandpa’s Nazi past was finally revealed, she denied it and blamed the whole thing on Russia propaganda.

And now it all made sense. Looks like Graham has been getting his New York Times culture story ideas from his wife Chrystia and her Ukrainian Nazi-friendly social circle.

It’s pretty obvious. If you strip Graham’s “reporting” of all of its squishy pretense to objectivity and boil it down to its unstated core, you see that he’s serving up reheated racist fears about the unique danger that Russians — those mongoloid barbarians from the east — pose to western civilization. It’s a PG version of the kind of stuff that was perfected in Nazi propaganda and used to justify the war. And you constantly come across this kind of talk today if you dive into Chrystia’s Ukrainian nationalist and fascist-friendly circles: a maniacal focus on “moskals” and “kikes” as the cause of all that’s bad in Ukraine.

Hell, come to think it, Chrystia’s editor grandpa would have loved to have her husband on as a regular contributor to his Nazi newspaper. From what I understand, he had a lot of trouble finding competent writers who could pump out quality racist and antisemitic propaganda for The Reich.

—Yasha Levine

PS: A few months back I wrote about how remixed Nazi-era Jewish conspiracy theories are constantly being served up in the media today without any notice or pushback. Check it out here: “Court Russians and Soviet Emigres.”

Immigrants as a Weapon is a new investigative newsletter that looks at the weaponization of nationalism and immigrant communities. Check out this introductory post