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Images coming out of Mariupol and Bucha have shown the free world the horrors of the unprovoked Russian aggression against the people of Ukraine. Cities and towns blown up and burnt down. Body counts rising, with estimates now of over 10,000 civilians killed in Mariupol alone, and likely 20,000 nationwide. Some 4.5 million civilians are European refugees and nearly 10 million more are displaced in their own country, as Ukrainians seek safe refuge from war crimes – anywhere. 

We are watching a slow-motion recurring Hitlerian nightmare. That this is possible in the year 2022, in the time of internet and Mars rovers and international connectedness, is surreal. And that it’s happening in modern Europe boggles minds. 

Vladimir Putin’s Ukrainian misjudgment was an error for the ages, resulting in a brutal war of annihilation and attrition. We’re left to wonder, “When will Russians be repulsed by their own vile actions?” “When will they themselves put an end to this?” 

The answer is, “Not soon.” Most Russians have had their brains locked in a dark closet. Putin shut down 100% of the free press, opposition media, and opened prison doors for anyone thinking of protesting. Russians not seeing Russian slaughter equates to no Russian public recoil or disgust. “There’s nothing to see here, just move along…”

Putin reminds all of us of the value of freedom of speech and of a free press. Stifle the press and you suffocate free thinking. Russians today are being “groomed” akin to Hitler grooming Germans. 

Putin is dehumanizing Ukrainians as abhorrent, degraded people. That, “vile, Nazi Ukrainians” must be retrained, re-governed, and removed dead or alive. Ukrainians, Russians now “learn,” are far less civilized and even less human than Russians. Indeed, at times they are called, “animals.” 

From a recent Russian propaganda piece: 

“Putin’s real weapon against Europe is the millions of Ukrainian refugees who, in a few weeks, have overwhelmed the best European cities and turned them into real pigsties. 

“Take, Vienna. Austrians are very pedantic and scrupulous about their way of life and calm and order in their society.  

“With the influx of Ukrainian refugees, a complete ‘collapse’ began: cars overwhelming streets and parking, refugees occupy public transport lanes and interfere with the work of city services, thousands of barbaric protesters gather every Sunday on the square of the Museum Quarter, leaving behind not only tons of garbage, screaming noise through the day.  

“And so, it happens in other capitals. In Riga, the Ukrainian derelicts scream in zombie costumes, in Chisinau they paint monuments in blue and yellow and demand to communicate in Ukrainian. In expensive Stockholm, Ukrainian refugees demand free of charge such accommodation conditions that most Swedes cannot afford. 

“Europeans are beginning to see with their own eyes who Ukrainians are and what their fundamental difference from Russians is. Ukrainians are constantly whining and demanding something, without giving anything in return. 

“Lazy, capricious, and hysterical, Ukrainians have forgotten how to live in a normal society for eight years and now turn any healthy city into a pigsty. This scenario wasn’t difficult to foresee. And this is Putin’s real secret weapon.” 

Anti-Ukrainian programming is being instilled into Russians and this unopposed propaganda has taken hold: “Ukrainians are increasingly viewed as a lazy, capricious blight on society, and Russians know everything going according to Putin’s genius plans.” 

Putin calls Ukrainians “drug-addicted Nazis” requiring a “special military operation.” We’ve been here before: Dehumanize people and it’s far easier to commit mayhem against them. 

If it all sounds familiar, it should.  

America is again called on as a deciding factor in the outcome of peace and freedom from tyranny and the course of history. We can never suffer dictator Putin’s vile propaganda, nor can we choose to look away from the very real, unimaginably tragic horrors being committed against democratic Ukraine. 

Post-World War II Americans were taught to “never forget.” Now is the time to start remembering very clearly. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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