When I started hearing about the Putin takeover in Ukraine I decided to get in touch with Oleg Atbashian because I heard that he lived in South Florida. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, he’s the brilliant satirist who writes The People’s Cube. Although he no longer lives in the neighborhood, he graciously granted me a phone interview and we discussed not only Ukraine but immigration and other things that affect this country.
Our interview started with a bit of small talk about his background. His grandfather fled to Ukraine during the Turkish genocide. He mentioned that, because of his looks, he’s often mistaken for a Jew. He believes, unlike many Jews today,in the importance of Israel and Jewish causes, Although he arrived in here in 1994, his English is better than many born in this country. He admitted that he was always good at languages and studied English at school. Then we started talking about more serious subjects.
I was surprised to hear that it was easier to get a visa before the “collapse” of the Soviet Union. He said that before it was harder to get out, but easier to get in the USA. After the collapse it was the reverse. So it took him a while. Many people forget the changes of The Immigration Act of 1965 which was signed by Lyndon B Johnson to make our immigration more diverse. Combined with the updated bill of 1996 and the green card lottery, it became much harder to emigrate from a European country. He added that the arguments about immigration on both pro and con side are missing a lot of the details about the illegal situation. He thinks that illegals who overstay a visa shouldn’t be lumped together with the illegals sneaking into the country and those causing trouble. When I asked him why he thought these policies were put into place he thought about it and answered that there’s two kinds of people. Some who are gullible and want a more utopian multicultural world, and the corrupt manipulators who use them.
When I asked him what the USA should do about Putin’s takeover of the Ukraine he said that now we can’t do anything because we squandered the time we had. He said that Hillary’s reset button was more than a bad translation and joke. The idea that America is an imperialist country, which takes over other countries, is a Russian propaganda strategy that goes back to losing the Vietnam War. Obama grew up with this propaganda and believes it. He added that many people in our government do as well. The ‘reset” button was a prop to restart the cold war again and this time with a different outcome. I also asked him what he thought Obama meant on the “hot mic” to Medvedev and he said that he was talking about the missiles near the Russian border and that Putin wanted them removed.
When I asked him why he came here, he answered that he always loved American rock n’roll and culture. I was curious about his first impression of the USA. He answered that it was like a “a time machine to the future” It was a futuristic dream. He could not understand why so many Americans were so unhappy with our system and took so much for granted. “Now,” he added, “It feels like we’re going back to a past that I lived.” That was the reason he started his satiric website, The People’s Cube, and does the work he does.
I heard almost the same words from Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! for America fame, who survived Arab lies, hate, and war to make it to these shores and found out she might be looking at her past. Native Americans (Indians too) wake up and listen to what our newest immigrants are saying. They bring a message that is not paid for by a commercial sponsor, but comes from the heart in fear of our future.