Suffer, Little Children! Europe as an Anti-Family Dystopia

The only thing that the Russian media love more than migrants attacking white women is the PC nightmare of Europe’s educational and family bureaucracy.  These are the front lines of the culture war, where children are indoctrinated by “gender fascism."

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to concentrate initially on my favorite whack job media figure: Igor Prokopenko.  It’s a tough call: Arkady Mamontov and Dmitry Kiselyov are equally reliable sources of outrage, and, since they are on Channel One and Rossiia, respectively, guaranteed a larger audience.  But the sheer scope of Prokopenko’s paranoid sensationalism is unrivaled.  As a top figure at  REN TV (technically not state-owned), and the host of two weekly broadcasts devoted to the military and conspiracy, he has to be hungry for content.  He is also a transmedia success story, drawing on his broadcasts to produce more than 20 books to date, with such titles as “Conspiracy Theory: Who Runs the World?” “Space Aliens of National Importance,” “The Whole Truth about Ukraine,” and “Great Mysteries of the Universe” (I have read or skimmed 22 of them so far). And one of his favorite themes is the “perversion” of childhood in Europe.  

Sometimes his focus on Europe has an obvious domestic connection.  In the June 25, 2016 broadcast of Voennaia taina,he speaks briefly about the scandal that would eventually bring down Child Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov, [1] only to say, “But the West is no better” and move on to European and American scandals. 

Prokopenko’s staff cherry-picks the most outrageous-looking examples and reports on them with expressions of shock and concern.  On June 1, 2016,Voennaia taina devoted 15 minutes to scenes from European and American playgrounds and amusement parks featuring sexually suggestive equipment, as well as various niche toys and dolls whose anatomical correctness or morbid humor would, accordion to “experts,” traumatize children. 

Will this be on the test?

Will this be on the test?

In the June 2, 2016 episode of Territoriia zabluzhdenii, Prokopenko shows clips from a Swiss children’s education program narrated by animated sex organs and talks about a kindergarten in Norway that avoids using gendered pronouns.  Children are also (horrors!) taught that gays are the same as other people and should be accepted as they are. We are also told that children are taught the alphabet with a book made up entirely of drawings of naked people. 

All of this is part of a general push to show Europe as a land that rejects not only “traditional” sexual norms, but gender itself, a land whose future is a posthuman nightmare.   Of all the myths that continue to circulate throughout the Russian media and Internet, there is one that exemplifies both this information policy and the extent to which the truth is distorted: the myth that the West has banned the words “mother” and “father.” 

Initially attributed to the Council of Europe, this ban has somehow migrated to the United States and the UK.  Nikolai Vinnik has traced the origins of this story, which began to circulate in Russia in 2010, to a  July 25, 2010 resolution by the Council of Europe. This resolution was a recommendation only and concerned gendered stereotypes in government publications and broadcasts (the words “mother” and “father” don’t even appear in the text). But the story was picked up by the German tabloid Bild, which mocked the idea of avoiding sexless language.  Since the resolution contained few examples, the authors of the story instead cited a Swiss practice of replacing the words “mother” and “father” on official documents with “Parent #1” and “Parent #2.”  As Vinnik points out, such a reform looks particularly ludicrous in German, which lacks a gender-neutral equivalent to “parent,” at least in the singular. 

That this story would be picked up by the Russian media is no surprise; broadcasters such as Prokopenko (not to mention the RT network) routinely rely on highly partisan Western sources while presenting them as neutral (Breitbart is a particular favorite). It also fits the overall message about European decline:  Europe is dying because it has turned away from traditional values.  The focus on the (mis)education of children is a perfect fit.  Not only does it exemplify Europe’s insistence on gender-based self-sabotage, it points back to the leitmotif of media coverage of migrants: how can an effete, anti-family, anti-reproductive Old Europe possibly withstand the onslaught of the rugged, patriarchal, aggressive dark-skinned foreigners who, despite their existential threat to Christianity, exude the heterosexual vitality rejected by liberal Europe? Once again, Russia provides a third way:  an Orthodox, pro-family civilization that has taken on the mantle of what the Victorians called muscular Christianity.   

Next: The Passion of Irina Bergseth



[1] After 14 children died in a summer camp boating disaster that was apparently the result of neglect on the part of the sponsoring organization, Astakhov greeted the surviving children with the question, “So, how was your swim?"