Recently, some anonymous sent me some strange questions:
Why was a green light given for mass emmigration from the former USSR?
Why were immigrants from the former USSR given the unprecedented opportunity to live on the USA’s dime?
Why is there such a high level of criminal activity among Slavic immigrants?
I found it very provocative.
Now, after newest cases against post-Soviet immigrants in U.S. I decide to share my thoughts openly.
Slavic diaspora in the U.S. and around the world has a large positive potential of spiritual, moral, social influence. Unfortunately, the «Soviet injury» does not give its potential to open up and generates inadequate responses to global processes and challenges. On the shady side of this I will say a few more.
I am sure that only good-bye to the remnants of the Soviet period and stereotypes let Christians from the former Soviet Union be a blessing to country of their residence.
I think that the West, including the US, was too concerned with standing up to the USSR and supporting religious and political dissidents. For them, all enemies of the USSR were friends of the US. That was a convenient, but simplistic, paradigm. Because all people “born in the USSR” (this is still a special social category), whether victims of religious persecution or fiery anti-Soviet activists, absorbed the spirit of the Soviet era and many stereotypes of Soviet thinking. They fought against Soviet ideology, but lived in a Soviet environment.
I think that the West underestimated the negative influence of the USSR and overestimated the anti-Sovietness of religious groups in the USSR. They saw religious dissidents as heroes, conquerors, and the avant garde of democratic change. Moreso, they saw in Baptists a strong conservative tradition. Perhaps the US leaders making decisions at the time were influenced by memories of the Founding Fathers, many of whom were dissidents in the Old World and brought an uncompromising spirit of Evangelical Christianity along with them to the US. To open doors to the US for yesterday’s persecuted Christians meant acknowledging their actions and their closeness in spirit to US Christians.
There were also pragmatic reasons, related to demographic policy. I also allow that religious emmigration from the USSR was welcomed in the hope that this conservative Biblical influence would strengthen and diversify American Christianity. Beginning in the 1960s, the US actively began helping Protestants in the USSR and counted on finding in them brothers close in thinking and in spirit. Of course, Syrian or Egyptian Christianity is more exotic and foreign. But, as I already noted, Soviet Christianity, though it seemed close, was actually deeply impacted by the Soviet spirit, so the US received, along with the immigrants, deeply engrained Soviet thinking.
The unprecedented help offered emmigrants from the USSR was offered by the country who had won the “Cold War.” We must acknowledge that at first these immigrants truly needed that help, because after life in the USSR it was very difficult to adapt to a free and competitive society. But after a time such generosity began to be taken advantage of and manipulated, and encouraged a consumer attitude. There is another possible reason for such generosity – a desire to control the situation in the migrant communities, to keep track of them, so that life, attitudes, and socio-political orientation could be controlled.
The high level of crime among immigrants from the USSR can be explained by the “born in the USSR” syndrome – where people see their country of residence as convenient but foreign, and therefore constantly look back to their Soviet experience and models of behavior and solving problems, and do not feel in themselves a connection to American rules and laws, and even protest against them. Now they look back not on the USSR but on Russia and rejoice that it has “risen from its knees,” they are proud that they are “born in the USSR” and are “Russian,” that they are the heirs of an empire, and feel that they are entitled to more than the law-abiding Americans are.
Another problems is the separation created by religious upbringing. In the strictness of conservative religious circles (where almost everything is either forbidden or seen as “worldly” and “sinful”), many psychological problems hide within personalities and later find expression in deviant behavior.
There is also a feeling of resentment – for a poor childhood, for Soviet marginalization, for their admittedly low social position in American society. But for religious communities who left the USSR, I believe the religious factor is the greatest, in which there is the problem of conservative upbringing and a culture of taboos, and a sharpened dichotomy between the church and the world, and a lack of holistic theological teaching on the self and society, faith, and culture.