Ilana Mercer is still pro-Russia regarding its invasion of Ukraine. But as her May 12 WorldNetDaily column (also published at CNSNews.com) shows, she's now reduced to trying to make an intellectual argument for it to distract from its ugly reality while also trying to muddy the issue a bit by bringing up the Azov Batallion, a militia group in Ukraine that has invoked Nazi imagery:
I therefore questioned, during the "Hard Truth" broadcast, the Nazi designation attached to the Azov Brigade, suggesting that if Azov are not engaged in acts of violence against the traditional Nazi victims and other ethnics, and are merely a military battalion fighting in the Russia-Ukraine military theater – then the Nazi insignia and paraphernalia are irrelevant. These symbols then fall into the category of ritualistic, offensive speech – thought crimes – the kind for which the left criminalizes the right.
This I say despite the fact that, as a longtime critic of American foreign policy, my sympathies here are firmly on the Russian side. Putin's war in Ukraine is a war for which there are plenty reasons, all of them vindicating Russia (although such a statement must be qualified by saying that reasons for war are not the same as justification for war. A war of aggression is seldom justified).
Since the American left is forever criminalizing the right for thought crimes, pro-Russia sympathies notwithstanding, principle is paramount. It will not do to expediently visit the same on the Azov, namely vilifying the brigade for thought crimes.
Moreover, if one is to believe "the Empire of Lies," to use Putin's term for the United States in his epic pre-war address, Russia claimed it went to war to cleanse Ukraine of Nazis. There is little truth in this, however. For where is this emphasized in Putin's speech? It isn't. The Nazi ruse is near-redundant, sort of an afterthought in Putin's cogent address to the nation. The overriding reason for war, to quote Putin, is "the eastward expansion of NATO, which is moving its military infrastructure ever closer to the Russian border." On the facts, U.S. policy toward Ukraine and Russia has not promoted peace between the two, but sought to sever the former's centuries-long ties to Russia and bring it into the U.S.-led NATO sphere of influence. Cold war is waged when conflict outweighs cooperation. Détente is when conflict and friction are reduced. The U.S. has sought a new cold war with Russia. Those were Putin's salient points.
Portraying Russia's reasons for war as "vindicated" while also not being totally pleased at the war's execution reminds us of how Mercer, a native of South Africa, claimed she opposed apartheid as a racist idea even as she made an intellectual case for it. Mercer's complaint abaout the Azov Batallion using neo-Nazi imagery rings a bit hollow, given that when when she mourned the death of South African white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche, she was silent on the fact that Terreblanche led a white supremacist militia group whose logo resembles the Nazi flag.
Mercer ultimately sides with the Azov batallion because -- quelle surprise! -- it's defending white people:
It is clear: Azov has a fight with the Russians. Its vigilance might also be in support of the Ukrainian white ethno-state. But if this is the case, and the battalion's war doesn't involve ethnic cleansing other than their battle to repel a Russian invader, I would put it to the reader that we on the dissident right should not in any way adopt the left's evil of prosecuting thought and speech crimes, and should not be bothered by the Azov's belief system, flags, goosestepping and assorted attire, all no more than accoutrements of speech. I do agree with Mr. Malic that it is worse than hypocrisy – treasonous? – for Western press and politicians to ignore the white nationalism of Ukraine's defenders as they criminalize white nationalists stateside.
Yes, war makes strange bedfellows, and she went on to argue that "if Azov are not engaged in palpable acts of violence against the traditional Nazi victims and other ethnics, and are merely a military battalion fighting in the Russia-Ukraine military theater – then the Nazi getup is irrelevant."