Statement on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
We at ASSERT stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people who alone are enduring the brunt of Vladimir Putin’s aggression and self-aggrandizing motivations. While all war is anathema to human flourishing, wars of aggression seeking to subjugate free and independent peoples—represented today by the invasion of Ukraine—are particularly intolerable. The toll of human suffering on the part of the Ukrainian peoples is already being realized and will continue to multiply. The suffering of the Russian people, who neither asked for nor supported Putin’s adventurism, must also be added to this account.
The fear that western powers have about escalating this war is understandable; and the risks posed by an increasingly dangerous leader with access to a nuclear arsenal are real. So, too, are the dangers realized by the growing imperial appetites of powerful nations that have reverberating consequences that can last for centuries. One need only to ask the peoples indigenous to the continents beyond the bounds of Europe to confirm this is so.
As social studies professionals, we must make a stand against the abuses of history meant to distort and incite hatreds and oppress peoples, both foreign or domestic. These are tools of authoritarians who fear and crush dissent, who use the discourse of freedom to justify the subjugation of others, and who deploy power unjustly to maintain their dominance. It is time to recognize as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We are heartened to see the many peoples of the world taking a firm stand against tyranny, setting aside many of the petty nationalisms that seek to shred the common garment of destiny King so poignantly speaks about. A conciliatory stance toward Putin has failed and a willingness of democratic powers to brook authoritarianism out of fear, convenience, or greed at home or abroad emboldens those who would seek to impose it upon others. Perhaps if there is a glimmer of light peeking through the dark clouds that hang over Ukraine it is that we may glimpse the oft-forgotten reality that our destiny as human beings, whether tragic or triumphant, depends on our working in solidarity toward a vision of peaceful coexistence, liberty, and human flourishing on this one—as Carl Sagan put it—pale blue dot.
If we are successful in recognizing and realizing this vision, we will have the people of Ukraine to thank for it. Their courage, tenacity, and resilience under fire to resist and endure against long odds while shaking the West out of its collective stupor may wake us all to the existential crises we face across the globe.
Cory Wright-Maley, Founding Editor of ASSERT
Scholars, I have included a statement circulated by Polish and Lithuanian academics to stand with our colleagues in Ukraine. Please consider signing and circulating it to your colleagues to extend its reach beyond Europe: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc1V2AS8lSqA9UvN7nrkeGV7u55ILhUGyu8iAj5mah3i2rhfw/viewform
Teachers, we have a list of resources—incomplete and imperfect though it may be—to help you get started in learning and/or teaching about this war: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1T2UMzDWx2yfTpXErJ4b0l0XwGQInPG1dI0hZB1311ys/edit?usp=sharing