CBS Ukraine Coverage Hammers Home America's Withering Grasp of the High Stakes

CBS Ukraine Coverage Hammers Home America's Withering Grasp of the High Stakes
AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

We are no longer a serious society.

Case in point: On Tuesday — amid a brutal Russian invasion killing thousandsCBS News published a piece it must’ve considered urgently important.

The topic was laid out on Twitter:

Transgender acceptance in Ukraine is not widespread, and changing legal documents to match gender requires a long process with psychiatric examinations. CBS News spoke with one woman in Kyiv who is now battling a “war within a war” amid Russia’s invasion.

The post linked to an article titled “‘A War Within a War’: Transgender Woman Says Transphobia and Discriminatory Laws Keeping Her Hostage in Kyiv During Russian Invasion.”

“Zi Faámelu was born and raised in Crimea, an area of Ukraine that was invaded and taken over by Russia in 2014,” the report began. “Now the 31-year-old lives in Kyiv, the capital city that has been under Russian siege for nearly a week. She is running out of food and hasn’t left her house for days as gunfire erupts outside.”

“She says she can’t leave,” CBS relayed.

Faámelu, who is transgender, said that transphobia is pervasive in the city and neighboring countries, and fears that if she leaves, the tension of the ongoing conflict will make her more susceptible to violence. Faámelu was previously a popular contestant on the Ukrainian singing competition show “Star Factory.”

Zi Faámelu is unwilling to conform to a male presentation in order to escape:

If she makes it to the border of a neighboring country offering refuge, she’s not even sure if they’ll let her in, as her passport identification does not match her gender. The LGBTQ community has become more visible and accepted over the years, but for transgender people, it’s more complicated.

To be clear, Ukrainians can attain IDs boasting a sexual distinction opposite their biology. But that requires a protocol Zi Faámelu hasn’t chosen to endure.

Legislation was introduced in 2017 to lessen the process, but still would require that transgender Ukrainians undergo outpatient psychiatric examinations.

“I don’t want to go through that. This is like, humiliating for the world,” the shut-in explained. “I decided to keep my passport, keep male in my passport, and now I cannot leave this country.”

“There’s no way Ukrainian border people can let me through,” Zi Faámelu said.

Of course, everyone in Ukraine is in need of our prayers — including Zi Faámelu. May they all stay safe.

Putting the spotlighted Kyivan entirely aside, CBS’s choice of Ukrainian exploration — while headlines such as “Russia Invades Ukraine in Largest European Attack Since WWII” hit the global front page — says a lot about the state of America.

I believe we’ve lost our sense of scale. Our understanding of high stakes.

We’re so zoomed in, the bigger picture eludes us.

And we’re so weak that all perception of all difficulty has become all the same.

The country’s conception of struggle has radically transformed.

And it hasn’t come from the bottom up; we’ve been leveled by our leadership.

We’re told that disagreement is “hate” and words are “violence.”

We’re informed we must be bolstered by our environment — and we must not only be seen but “feel” so.

Any who wish not to affirm us must be forced by rule of law.

Any incident unsupportive of our ideas, we’re assured, causes us “harm.”

In such an instance, we’re advised, we’ve been robbed of our dignity. We’ve been aggressed. We’ve been erased.

Erased — our mere existence is only made possible by all the world telling us we are right.

Hence, disagreement is not only hate, but death.

How could we be any less strong?

At a time when mangled bodies litter the Ukrainian earth, pulverized by military might, a major news organization presents a story of self-expression — as if the general subject carries the same weight and sits at the same state of emergency as the threat of a world war.

Speaking of:

Obviously, self-expression is a beautiful thing. And everyone should present themselves however they wish.

And social issues are doubtlessly newsworthy.

But CBS’s choice of Ukrainian coverage perfectly hammers home the fact that we are no longer a serious nation. We can no longer grasp real danger and hold on tight. Perhaps it’s one reason so many Americans suffered paralyzing fear during the pandemic — many had lost sight of the fact that the threat of actual death was a perpetual part of life.

And our evolution isn’t merely evident among the citizenry; it’s in our institutions. The Armed Forces — an apparatus whose sole function is to kill people and break things — recently made headlines for its socially-conscious interior decorating. Last month, the federal government proclaimed, “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Are Necessities in U.S. Military.” No, they aren’t. They may make things interesting. They may even be laudable. But where blowing things up is concerned, they’re neither here nor there. Is any military less “diverse” than China’s? How lethal does it appear to be?

We’ve conflated small things with medium things, and medium with large. Every issue has become similarly sized. Just like a “war within a war” — one is the same as the other.

As a result, nothing appears to matter much.

Put simply, we’re no longer serious.

Therefore — the best I can tell — we’re in serious trouble.



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