My colleague Jerry Wilson recently penned a piece in response to Matt Walsh after The Daily Wire host took a shot at RedState. That happened over a post discussing a song written in support of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Walsh, who has made comments in the past suggesting Zelensky is hopelessly corrupt, was not a fan of the hero worship shown in the video.
On that point, I agree. Zelensky is not a Christ-like figure. He’s a flawed politician (as they all are) dealing with a foreign invasion of the nation he leads. And full disclosure, I listen to Walsh’s show fairly often, especially while driving, and I have absolutely nothing against him or most of his views.
Still, I think this entire “Never Zelensky” thing deserves some discussion, and to be sure, there are right-wing pundits out there who have staked out such a position, even going so far as to suggest we should believe Putin’s rantings.
I suggest every American who wants to know what’s *actually* going on in Russia and Ukraine, read this transcript of Putin’s address. As I’ve said for month— NATO (under direction from the United States) is violating previous agreements and expanding eastward. WE are at fault. https://t.co/NDmou8I36H
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) February 22, 2022
President Zelensky is a very bad character who is working with globalists against the interests of his own people. I will not move one inch away from that assessment—ever—no matter how flowery the media depictions of him are.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) March 17, 2022
When Candace Owens has been asked about her statements on the matter of Ukraine, her response has typically been to suggest it is group-think to not be overly critical of Zelensky. On the contrary, I think she’s falling into a type of group-think of her own, deciding that contrarianism for contrarianism’s sake is a good argument.
So with that said, here are my thoughts on the matter and a response to those who have decided to be obsessively anti-Zelensky, not as a general critique on marginal matters, but as a way to suggest Ukraine and Russia are equally guilty regarding the current invasion of Europe.
Agree, disagree, praise, or roast.
1 – Vladimir Putin is obviously a bad actor and Russia is a third-world, delusionally nationalist state where a large majority of its citizens think fondly of Joseph Stalin, a genocidal communist. During 2016 and 2020 (and the Obama years), Russia played the United States like a fiddle, seeding domestic narratives that led to Joe Biden becoming president. Ask yourself who benefited the most from the “Russian interference” push of the last six years? Obviously, the answer is Russia given they now get to face off against a senile old man instead of Donald Trump. Remember, it was Zelensky who said the quid pro quo narrative wasn’t true. In other words, you should be incredibly wary of listening to anything Russia says, including its reasoning for its invasion of Ukraine.
2 – There is no actual evidence Ukraine was going to be allowed to join NATO, and such claims originate from Russian officials. Opposition to adding Ukraine to NATO was made clear by the US in 2014. Thus, the idea that “we” provoked Putin doesn’t hold water. Yes, Trump began to send lethal aid to Ukraine, a change from Obama-era policy, but only after Russia started lashing out further into the Donbas region and holding exercises at the border. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been telegraphed for years. That Putin held off until Trump left office is a testament to the former president’s strength. Besides, if Russia doesn’t want NATO on its borders (multiple NATO countries already border Russia), then invading Ukraine, which puts NATO on its borders, makes no sense.
3 – Zelensky is not an angel, and yes, corruption exists in Ukraine. Yet, there is little evidence Zelensky is uniquely corrupt or that he leads a globalist cabal of bad actors. It is important to not judge foreign nations through a US mindset. Some would say the President of El Salvador is corrupt (and Democrats love to say that give his opposition to Joe Biden). I would say he’s doing what has to be done in an imperfect situation to help his country. Regardless, no corruption on the part of Zelensky justifies Russia invading Ukraine, and it’s important to keep that context. And as to the claims of globalism, all I see is a man willing to do whatever it takes to garner help for his country. That’s not corruption, that’s realpolitik, as desperate as it may seem at times. In the end, Zelensky has shown himself to be a strong nationalist, with any bent toward globalism arriving out of necessity.
4 – When speaking of corruption in Ukraine, the biggest example of it involves Burisma and the Biden family. That has been used to suggest that we shouldn’t help Ukraine. That topic needs more fleshing out, though. Who started Burisma? A member of Ukraine’s pro-Russian party whose president at the time was a Moscow-installed puppet (that now resides in exile in Russia). This was prior to the invasion of Crimea. What scuttled the investigations into Burisma? That would be Trump’s impeachment. Who did that benefit? The Russians. Most of Ukraine’s corrupt oligarchy is also tied to Russia. In other words, when someone says “Ukraine is corrupt,” that’s correct, but most of that fault lies with the Russians.
5 – This is not a case of “both sides are equally bad,” in my view. Sure, it’s reasonable to say Zelensky isn’t perfect, but to state, he’s a “bad character” while openly defending Russia or suggesting there’s no “good side” in the current war? That’s hyperbolic and not backed by evidence. In the case of Owens, she seems to be playing a role more than thinking critically. It feels stupidly contrarian. Perhaps that’s because she’s a liberal who shifted to conservatism when it became lucrative, but her arguments feel manufactured and not based on genuine study and reflection. If Zelensky is “corrupt” to the point of not being worthy of support, then she should explain in detail how he’s corrupt and should be opposed in relation to Putin, which is the case she’s making.
6 – Everyone has a right to their own opinion, even if it doesn’t fall in line with mainstream thought. I am not suggesting all counters to pro-Ukrainian sentiment are “doing Putin’s bidding” or the like. Some things I espouse (such as my view on Syria) aren’t mainstream as well. But I would suggest to anyone absconding from a viewpoint because they view it as group-think to ask themselves whether they are falling into group-think themselves. Look at the facts, access what you can prove, and form a viewpoint. Don’t adopt a mainstream view just for the sake of doing what’s popular. But at the same time, don’t adopt a non-mainstream view just because it isn’t popular. Group-think doesn’t just exist on CNN, and there will always be overlap on issues, especially when dealing with foreign policy.
In the end, I’m not telling anyone exactly what to think, and I recognize there will be nuance. Rather, I’m suggesting that there are some figures on the right who are seeking to fill a niche of opinion instead of being honest with their audiences. Do I like songs that proclaim Zelensky the savior of the world? Heck no, I don’t, but that doesn’t change the facts on the ground in Ukraine. Russia’s invasion is wrong and the Ukrainian people obviously have the will to fight for their sovereignty. Those are the two most important aspects in forming an opinion of the situation. Much of the rest is just noise and comes across as deflecting.