The ultimate example is, of course, Google founder Sergey Brin, who once opined that Russia is “Nigeria with snow.” He is the rule, not the exception.Most Sovok Jews have very poor impressions of Russia, and like to tell funny anecdotes about ethnic Russians’ stupidity and incompetence: Ivan: The above joke courtesy of a Silicon Valley bigwig. (Reality: I’m not a Jew culturally, though I’ve calculated I’m about 10% Ashkenazi Jewish at the genetic level). First, while they’re very successful on average, far from all Soviet Jews made the American dream: While many are millionaires, the vast majority still consists of shop assistants, office plankton, and the driving instructor I hired for a refresher lesson prior to my California driving exam.
The quintessential White Russian comes from an upper-middle class family, holds moderately conservative views, and goes to the occasional Orthodox service and Russian cultural event featuring zakuski, vodka, and traditional singing and dancing.To the extent they have detailed opinions on Russian politics, they tend to respect Putin, seeing him as a conservative restorer.Topping off the cake, I have some White Russian ancestors, and am familiar with many of them as well as more recent expats via my hobby of Russia punditry.I hope this guide will entertain American and Russian (and Jewish) readers interested in what happens when their cultures interact and fuse, as well as those very Russian Americans who will doubtless see traces of themselves in at least one of the five main archetypes.White Russians tend to be well-assimilated into US society, and many of the younger generations no longer speak Russian.
However, many of them retain a positive affinity with traditional Russian culture – even if it tends to the gauzy and superficial, an attitude that transitions into “kvas patriotism” when taken to an extreme (kind of like Plastic Paddies).It accelerated in the late 1980′s, when the Soviet government eased emigration controls (prior to that the US had sanctioned the USSR for limiting Jewish emigration with the Jackson-Vanik amendment; bizarrely, it remains in effect to this day).Leveraging their intelligence and entrepreneurial talent, many became very rich in the IT (California) and finance (East Coast) sectors.In a neat ideological reversal, Soviet Jews in America whose parents had sung Communism’s praises turned to libertarianism and neoconservatism, and in the 2000’s, most became hardcore anti-Putinists. But one need only drop a few names: Anne Applebaum (Putin stole my wallet), Miriam Elder (Putin stole my drycleaning ticket), Julia Ioffe (I hate objectivity), Masha Gessen (Putin has no face), Anna Nemtsova (Russian dudes suck)*…Or recall the blood-curdling and frankly threatening responses I got from one Irina Worthey (“Ira Birman”) when trolling a pro-Khodorkovsky Facebook group with inconvenient questions about his actual democratic credentials.Needless to say, they never support the Communists – though the antipathy does not extent to Red Army victories or space race triumphs, of which they are proud. Many however are partial to liberal forces such as Yabloko and Prokhorov; especially those who are no longer Russophones, and have to rely on Western coverage of Russia.