Wednesday, 13 April 2022 — Caitlin Johnson
Listen to a reading of this article:
The New York Times is naming and shaming Ukrainian men who’ve fled the country rather than stay and kill Russians for Washington, because it was illegal for men of military age to leave, and because their countrymen are angry at them, and because it’s the New York Times.
They shamed Vova Klever, who said, “Violence is not my weapon.”
They shamed Volodymyr Danuliv, age 50, who said, “I can’t shoot Russian people.”
They shamed another Volodymyr, surname withheld, who said, “Look at me. I wear glasses. I am 46. I don’t look like a classic fighter, some Rambo who can fight Russian troops.”
And to those men I can only say, I love you.
I love you Vova Klever, outed by a trusted friend and made a pariah on Ukrainian social media. I love you Volodymyr Danuliv, who refuses to shoot Russians because you have Russians in your family. I love you other Volodymyr, surname withheld, sipping your beer in shame because you shirked your patriotic duty.
Hold your heads high, beautiful draft dodgers, for you are the real heroes of this story. I raise my glass to you tonight.
I raise my glass to all draft dodgers, who chose to run and hide rather than kill and be killed for some rich asshole’s power agendas. Who chose the condemnation and scorn of an insane society which praises mass murder and elevates sociopaths. Who chose excommunication from the death cult over bloodshed for geostrategic domination and Raytheon profit margins.
I hope you live long lives full of laughter and tears, full of love and loss, full of drunken nights that go too late and surly mornings that start too early, and all the other delicious gooey nectar that life is made of.
I hope you experience lots of beauty. I hope you make lots of beauty. I hope you read good books. I hope you dance in supermarkets. I hope you have lots of sex and I hope you find and lose religion. I hope you fall in love often and have at least one excruciating but liberating divorce.
I hope you drink deeply from the river of life, because there are many who never got to (you know that better than anyone). I hope you know fear and I hope you know fearlessness. I hope you set aside your armor so you can let someone all the way in. I hope you learn to open your chests and love with reckless abandon, and I hope you learn to cry easily as all real men do.
Here’s to you, oh Vova and Volodymyrs, who chose to bail the fuck out of there rather than pay the ultimate price in a stupid proxy war for US unipolar hegemony. Who chose to spend their lives with their eyes sparkling babies and breasts rather than dead-eyed haunted with blood and splattered Russian faces. Who chose to live for something rather than to die for nothing.
There are no war heroes. There are only war victims. Here’s to everyone, ever, who throughout the ages has chosen not to be made one. I raise my glass to your lives, and to your hidden yet radiant dignity. Please know that at least one pair of eyes sees your beauty.
Oh yeah, and fuck The New York Times.
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