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Ukraine: This Year’s BLM

It's a conflict that could lead to nuclear war -- but it's also a pop culture branding opportunity
Screen Shot 2022-03-12 at 12.26.17 AM

Look at this, sent to me by a friend who subscribes to Life 360, an app that allows parents to keep up with where their kids are via their smartphones:

What? What on earth does an app that lets anxious parents keep track of their kids have to do with the war in Ukraine? Nothing, actually: it’s a branding opportunity. It’s just like how all the corporations sought to sign on to Black Lives Matter, to show that We Care™ about the cause du jour.

This is really astonishing. Along those lines:

On Thursday afternoon, 30 top TikTok stars gathered on a Zoom call to receive key information about the war unfolding in Ukraine. National Security Council staffers and White House press secretary Jen Psaki briefed the influencers about the United States’ strategic goals in the region and answered questions on distributing aid to Ukrainians, working with NATO and how the United States would react to a Russian use of nuclear weapons.

As the crisis in Ukraine has escalated, millions have turned to TikTok for information on what is happening there in real time. TikTok videos offered some of the first glimpses of the Russian invasion and since then the platform has been a primary outlet for spreading news to the masses abroad. Ukrainian citizens hiding in bomb shelters or fleeing their homes have shared their stories to the platform, while dangerous misinformation and Russian propaganda have also spread. And TikTok stars, many with millions of followers, have increasingly sought to make sense of the crisis for their audiences.

This war is a pop culture and consumerist phenomenon. We are crazy people. This is a conflict that could lead to World War III, and even a nuclear exchange, but the great pop culture machine is taking it in and turning it into a consumer emotional experience.

It is impossible now to think clearly about what’s happening, and what is the right thing to do. Who knows where this is going next? Remember how all the public health orders about how to deal with Covid were thrown by the wayside after George Floyd, so everybody could enjoy the pleasure of protesting against police brutality and racism? Here we are again — but this time, with nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, a friend in Romania, which borders Ukraine, writes:

So everybody — me included — is freaking out fearing that the war will soon be here. Nobody really wants war with Russia, because nobody wants war. We are just a relatively small country at the NATO border (a proxy target). Of course, media and “influencers” are in emotional implosion over it and the climate is toxic, much like in US, but we don’t have any Carlsons or Greenwalds in here, just trumpets fomenting gross propaganda, in sharp contrast with the feelings and fears of the regular guy. On top of that, it’s bewildering to see an (almost?) inescapable chain of escalation coming from the both sides of the conflict.
And to think that we all thought that the pandemic madness was over, just to be thrown in the trenches of the WW3… What signs do we need more to understand that we are at the edge of the apocalyptic abyss, and the abyss is looking back at us?
Hush, mister, we have a thrilling pop culture phenomenon to attend to! You are harshing our pleasure.
In other insane things our people are doing, a leading university in Switzerland kicked Metropolitan Hilarion, a senior Russian Orthodox Church official, off of its faculty for his failure to condemn the war. A priest friend e-mailed to say:

I am trying to find a parallel case in Church History, but so far I am unsuccessful. For instance, I cannot think of a single European university professor in the 13th century who was required, as the price for remaining on the faculty, to condemn his country’s invasion into another country or its involvement in the Crusades.

I am wondering if the Apostle Paul would have had his apostolic credentials taken away for his silence about Rome’s recent invasion of Parthia. We know the Corinthian Christians, for example, were morally sensitive folks; they probably had strong feelings on the point.

Absolutely bonkers, we are. This is a moral panic. A moral panic that involves the prospect of a new world war. I don’t know how we will be able to go back to normal, with people having smashed all their standards for the sake of signaling their virtue, and participating in the Cause.

This is a war, not a social media spectacle. Well, it is a social media spectacle, but it should not be, because turning this into BLM, or the Beatles’64, makes it impossible to think clearly about what’s going on. Personally, I want Russia to lose this war, but for pity’s sake, this is the kind of thing that’s going to lead to a massive mistake that will get a lot of people killed. We need sobriety. Not this.

UPDATE: Perfection:

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