PRESS EDITORIAL:The lessons of Ukraine

The American government supports Ukraine with prodigious military assistance in its survival struggle against Russia as a strategic imperative to counter the expansion of an enemy superpower into the territory of a European democratic republic.

The American people support Ukraine out of charity, compassion, empathy and sympathy.

Those human qualities were on vivid display in the story in last week’s Ozaukee Press about the response to the efforts of the husband and wife pastors of Port Washington’s Portview Church to collect tons of supplies for the people of Ukraine.

The pastors, Paul and Christine Pierquet, sought donations to load a shipping container with 24,000 pounds of food and household items, and thanks to amazingly generous families and individuals the container was filled and shipped in July.

It took several months for the shipment to reach Ukraine. It is telling that the sheer volume of donated supplies from the U.S. was so great that shipments were backed up at the port of entry in Gdayna, Poland.

Paul Pierquet recalled days at the Portview Church on Highway LL when “six or seven carloads of people we never met would pull in and pop their trunks, which were loaded with donations.”

The Pierquets, having lived in Ukraine for 16 years, have a special affinity for the country and its people. The Americans who responded to their call for aid demonstrated generosity on behalf of fellow humans in need, and also, it can be assumed, admiration for the people of Ukraine for their example of patriotism and courage in the face of subjugation by a ruthless autocracy.

The patriotism on display in Ukraine is not the kind that can be bought cheaply by, say, mounting outsized national flags on pickup trucks or mouthing slogans declaring a nation’s exceptionalism and greatness. Rather, it is the kind of patriotism that must be earned by a willingness to sacrifice for the welfare of one’s country and fellow citizens.

Ukraine’s struggle provides another example the world would do well to heed—an example, as a victim of Russian aggression, of the evil of autocracy.

Why would Vladimir Putin order the invasion of a European country, an act of war not seen since World War II, unleash unspeakable bloodshed among the soldiers of two armies, authorize the killing of civilians and the commission of atrocities, in violation of international law and the laws of humanity, and amplify it all with the direct threat of deploying nuclear weapons on the battlefield and the implied threat of the nuclear warfare with the U.S. and other countries supporting Ukraine?

The short answer is: Because he can.

Putin is the dictator of an autocracy and he answers to no one.

Is this really what the growing number of extreme right-wing political parties with autocratic agendas that are attempting take power in Europe want? They have already taken over the government of Hungary and are gaining strength in Sweden, Italy, Poland, France and Germany, and even, apparently, in the U.S., if the acceptance by a vocal minority of overturning elections when necessary to retain political power is any indication.

A universal characteristic of autocracy supporters wherever they are found is fear and loathing of traditional news media. Autocracy cannot coexist with a free press that empowers the people with factual information about their government. Russia is proof. There the press is an organ of the state, journalistic critics of the Putin regime are silenced one way or another, and instead of news the people are fed the regime’s version of reality—like the “glory” of the subjugation of Ukraine without mention of the thousands of Russian soldiers who have perished in Putin’s quest for personal glory.

We empathize with Ukraine and we learn from Ukraine.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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