Russian President Vladimir Putin indulged in a bit of American culture war fantasia on Friday, accusing the West once again of trying to “cancel” Russia while comparing his state’s plight to that of J.K. Rowling.
“Not long ago, children’s author J.K. Rowling was cancelled for not pleasing supporters of so-called gender freedoms,” Putin said. “Today, they’re trying to cancel an entire, thousand-year old country, our people.”
Rowling’s Harry Potter series is extremely popular in Russia, as are, apparently, concerns about cancel culture.
Putin’s statements come after the West cut Russia — and Putin, personally — off from large parts of the global financial system in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s advance has frozen over the past few weeks, with Russian forces making limited advances across large parts of Ukraine.
It’s not a pretty picture for Vladimir, and he’s doubling down on the siege mentality in which he’s placed his country. In this case, the vernacular of American conservatives has helped him.
“This didn’t start yesterday,” Putin remarked. “In Hollywood, for example, time and time again, films have come out in which the only victor over Nazism was the U.S.A. In this, the decisive contribution of the Red Army was simply taken and cancelled.”
He added that “cancel culture has turned into the cancellation of a culture.”
“They’re exterminating Chaikovsky and Rakhmaninoff from concert posters, banning Russian authors and books,” he said, before comparing disgust with his government’s actions in Ukraine to the book-burning campaigns of the Third Reich.
Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have died since the war began.
Rowling herself replied to Putin on Friday.
“Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics,” Rowling said in a tweet.