The deluge of statements, articles, and books on Russia in these turbulent (for Russia) times comes as no surprise. What surprises is the ingratiating and monotonously uncritical terms of discourse in which American opinions about Russia are couched. Many of these terms date back to the Soviet era. No country in Europe has ever generated so much obsequiousness.

For months, nearly every issue of the New York Times has featured an article saying in effect: "Let's help the poor Mr. Ivanov in Moscow, he is in bad economic trouble, he has been humiliated, and there may be more trouble if we do not help him." While the calls to charity multiply, fawning upon things Russian is also very much in evidence. In recent years, almost every American institution worth its mettle has sponsored a pilgrimage to Moscow, and the pilgrims, awestruck by the Oriental splendor of the last imperial city on earth, have listened humbly to their Russian guides explaining the glories and sufferings of Russian history and telling where and how to send a plane ticket enabling a victimized Russian to visit the West. The notion of Russia's victimhood, implanted in Russian and foreign memory by Russian writers of the 19th century, survived the years of Soviet military might (indeed it was nourished by Moscow) and continues to find willing followers among American journalists and academics.

The worship of Russia in America crosses...

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