19 June 2018, Tuesday, 13:21

Ideologically Correct Pants

Iryna Khalip

Even inscriptions on fences are censored by invaders.

In the spring shortly before the death anniversary of a Belarusian music maker Siarhei Cortes, the Belarusian television launched a documentary. Authors made a call to Siarhei Cortes Jr., the son of the music maker. They wondered politely who was the most informed person about the life of his father.

The son said that his best friend was Uladzimir Khalip, of course. They did not say anything. And after a pause they said: "Well, we understand, but the name is not good. Did your father have friends with sound names for television?"

In late spring there was the Muay Thai World Championship in Minsk. And when Vitaly Gurkov, the 12-time world champion, as always, appeared on the ring with his famous gum-shield with Pahonia and wearing shorts with embroidered white-red-white flag, organizers immediately ordered to turn off photo- and television cameras. State journalists did that. Whether it is coincidence or not, but Gurkov lost that Championship in Minsk. For the first time.

The other day Pavel Belaus, owner of Symbal.by, agreed to participate in a talk-show on state television. The reason is Embroidered T-shirt Day, the topic is the fashion for national symbols. Before that, the film crew arrived to the store, to shot an assortment. As a result, white-red-white flags and Pahonia were painted grey on T-shirts in his store when the talk-show was launched. And even Ukrainian flags -official ones, by the way, were retouched.

It would seem that opera, Thai boxing and T-shirts are completely different phenomena that have nothing in common. But everything is interconnected in our country. And there is no stronger connection than prohibitions. There is no more unifying factor than repressions. There is no other ideology than Stalinism.

History repeats itself. Prohibited surnames. Unreliable actions. Inconvenient facts of biographies. Wrong pictures on T-shirts. Wrong symbols. The fifth column. Relatives abroad. Stay in occupied territories...

We can pass through such little things like painted symbols. We can laugh at it. Black square would be the best picture on TV. The other thing is really scary: we do live in the occupied territory. More than twenty years. We do not need to be held in camps, we do it on our own will. In advance we punished ourselves. We fell timber and extract uranium of our own accord, not by a court verdict. Someone, however, leave the occupied territory, because they have dingy and are not suitable even for wood harvesting. One can escape, but it is harder to make occupants invaders leave. Because they invaded not only the territory. They invaded history, culture, education, business, science, everything they could. Even inscriptions on fences are censored by them.

If one writes a foul word even on a wall of a nursery school, it will glow and shine. If one paints a national flag, they will repaint it at once. (If I see such "patches" on walls I can say that "Live long Belarus! was written there, thank you, guys. Even commercial billboards picture not those we are proud of, but those with reliable surnames, biographies, statements.

In Poland football player Robert Lewandowski advertises everything from cellular communications to banks. And the Polish are proud of him. Vitaly Gurkov should have been our Robert Lewandowski. But, damn it, he has a wrong patch on his pants! I'd be better to picture those with the "right" ideology and state-approved pants.

I have been looking for precedents in the history when invaders suddenly started seeing clearly, made apologies and leaft voluntarily. My attemps were failing. Hence, the option of apologies and obeisances is not a variant (I wish it could!). We will have to force them to leave. Delenda est Carthago (Carthage must be destroyed).

Iryna Khalip for Charter97.org