Once again, I really enjoy Pravda - Russia's Soviet-era propaganda-paper that's recently evolved into a cross between the UK's Daily Mail and the American National Enquirer. Pravda is one of those cold war relics that, like a 1960s Air Koryo Ilyushin Il-62, has somehow survived into the modern world, albeit with a fresh coat of paint (and a smiley face sticker placed over the old sickle & hammers). I've written about Pravda before; it's a hysterical (and chilling) glimpse into the Russian mindset, and how much that part of the world differs from American values. Pravda openly bashes the LBGT community, calls women "sluts," ridicules US policy with the fervor of North Korea, and has said that victims of spousal abuse should be proud of the bruises inflicted by their husbands. No, there definitely wouldn't be any fires at the Moscow Berkeley Campus if Breitbart were to speak. And if there were, they'd be jailed as fast as Pussy Riot - with a front page story, littered with unnecessary adjectives. Chuckling...and people say Trump is a bully.
On a recent Pravda visit, I stumbled on the story above - "Russian Pilots Will Not Be Allowed to Fly Drunk" - which made me do a double-take. Is this for real, I thought, or is this a link to The Onion? I clicked on the story to find that it was, indeed, a genuine news article. Apparently, there really IS a problem with Russian pilots hitting the vodka before the cockpit, enough to call attention to the issue. I thought that drunk-flying was limited to Denzel Washington or Patrick Swayze crashing a Cessna in an Arizona construction site, but apparently it's pretty common in the skies above St. Petersburg ... and if it doesn't stop, Boeing will have to install Bade devices. Now, in addition to gluten free pretzels I appreciate that Aeroflot's customer service now includes sober pilots, but imagine how Russian culture even got to accept drunk pilots to begin with. Not only is the east different from the west, the west is different from almost every other culture in the world with regards to tolerance and political correctness. Think about that for a second.
I mention the Berkeley rioting because it wasn't really a "riot." A genuine riot is what happened at the 1968 Democratic convention, or in LA following the Rodney King verdict. Berkley's "riots" were more like Black Friday shoppers fighting over Hatchimals. Their perceived free-speech issue warranted picket signs rather than broken glass, and it was embarrassing to watch Americans behave like spoiled children in front of the world's cameras. (I can only imagine how much fun Pravda had with the story!) The behavior at Berkeley really made us look bad to other countries, and that's a dangerous thing to happen so early in a new Presidency.
You know, I remember all the protests surrounding W's first election, and how global perception emboldened China to capture a US military plane on Hainan Island in 2001. (Google it, in case you've forgotten.) Modern China was only just starting to flex its muscles back then, and their actions were more than just "testing" George W Bush, they were testing...us. And with all the saber rattling that's been happening since 10/9, it's only a matter of time before such a test will happen again. Don't forget that Iran/ North Korea have nukes now, and even if they can't hit our mainland, a single EMP blast could be devastating. If that were to happen, I'd imagine Berkeley's students would have wished they'd saved their fires for cooking, rather than to avoid studying for the next day's political science exam. It's hard to organize a flash-mob to protest a power grid failure when your cell phones, computers, and cars stop working. It's hard to use your Starbucks points, too.
You have to admire Russia, though: they're a culture unafraid to speak their mind. They're a flawed country for sure - their treatment of women/gays is particularly appalling - but at least they admit to being exactly who they are, drunk pilots and all ... and they also make sure to act in a unified manner for all the world to see. I hope that America gets to that point. It's important to have healthy political debate, but it's even more important to stand behind our President, whether we like him/her or not. And though I didn't vote for him, I accepted Obama as our Commander & Chief ... and I was fully expecting to do the same with Clinton, when I went to bed on election night before the results came in.
I just did a search on The Onion's website, and I couldn't find anything about Berkeley. Oddly enough, after doing the same search on Pravda, I couldn't find anything there either. (I'm surprised.) Maybe it's a sign that like Joy Villa's Grammy dress, the masses who "get it" are finally coming out - and making themselves known in a world that's been hostile to them. I hope that's the case. As a reasonable gay Republican, I'm tired of biting my tongue while Berkeley-types march through the news cycle like a Pyongyang parade.
Let's show the world our good customer service.