Language matters

Your regular reminder that UKRAINIAN SPEAKING Ukrainians are the ones who have faced all manner of discrimination in Ukraine. Russian speakers have been favoured, not disfavoured. It is absolute falsity that language is a neutral issue without meaning and significance in Ukraine.

And further reminder that it has largely been Russian speaking Ukrainians who made the argument that “language doesn’t matter” but clung to the historical and modern day genocidal invader, occupier, and oppressor’s language for dear life, refusing to speak Ukrainian.

They mocked Ukrainian language. They belittled it. They wouldn’t speak it. They consumed shitty Russian literature, media, and music. They helped Russify Ukraine. And to russify Ukraine is to de-Ukrainianize it.

I hope those who chose to speak “superior” Russian over “inferior” Ukrainian realize that they helped Russia’s linguicide – a tool of genocide and annihilation of the Ukrainian nation and people.

I hope they understand when they mocked Ukrainian language, they mocked Ukraine.

I hope they understand that they helped do Russia’s dirty work by refusing to use Ukrainian – the indigenous language of Ukraine. They helped Moscow deprive Ukrainian speakers of their linguistic environment.

I hope they understand that by using Russian instead of Ukrainian, they understood the world through the lens of Russian culture and identity. They chose a Russian identity over a Ukrainian one.

I hope they understand how mightily they smiled in Moscow when those Russian speakers said “I don’t need to speak Ukrainian” and “the language you speak doesn’t matter” and fooled westerners into parroting this destructive, national identity erasing narrative.

I hope they realize that when they admit that in choosing to switch to Ukrainian in the last year that they feared they would lose their identity, and worried about who they’d be as Ukrainian speakers, that they are acknowledging that they identity was, at least in part, Russian.

I hope they can finally admit to themselves that when they said “language doesn’t matter” it was the way to feel better about choosing not to speak and read “inferior” Ukrainian over “superior” Russian.