Lacking Judgemental Choice, Injuring Character
"I don't think it's a secret. American officials have publicly said, and even Angela Merkel has publicly said, that there were efforts on the Russian side to destabilize Western democracies, and I think it shouldn't come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada."
Canadian Foreign Affairs (Global Affairs) Minister Chrystia Freeland
Handout Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian grandfather Michael Chomiak at a party – he is to the right of the man smoking. In the right, lower corner of the photo in uniform is Emil Gassner, the Nazi administrator in charge of the press for the region including Cracow.
Facts are facts. Because they are facts they should be faced head on. That to face them would mean to lose face in one's own estimation by publicly exposing one's vulnerabilities is in the eye of the beholder. When reality is denied, despite the presence of ample and incriminating evidence, it is then precisely that in evading the truth one destroys credibility and in the process, respect. The reaction of Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Global Affairs Minister, to deny her grandfather, Michael (Mykhailo) Chomiak's culpability as a Nazi sympathizer, enabler and supporter is understandable as a reaction.
But she had ample time to think things over, to indulge in a little introspection and to weigh the results of either admitting the truth or denying it, and she obviously chose the wrong option. By accusing Russian investigators of indulging in the propaganda of divisiveness and false witness, she sought to protect herself from association by birth with a Nazi collaborationist. She may also have been motivated by trying to protect her grandfather's memory, his name as a nationalist Ukrainian whose own motives have been 'misunderstood'.
But this man who was her grandfather was not coooperating with the Nazi regime in Poland, to achieve a higher purpose as Ms. Freeland and her supporters allege; that while appearing to consort with Nazis and doing their bidding, he was playing a double game in helping members of the Ukrainian resistance to obtain useful papers protecting them from arrest. Her own uncle, her grandfather's son-in-law, a scholar-historian of the Holocaust who took an especial interest in the activities of his family member, characterizes that pitiful attempt as wishful thinking.
She had the opportunity when reporters confronted her with the stories circulating in pro-Russian news sites uncovering the wartime past of her grandfather, who post-war lived in Germany for years before emigrating to Canada with his family, to admit that her grandfather's activities brought no honour to her family, but she chose not to. She chose to overlook evidence that in editing a newspaper titled Krakivski Visti in Krakow, later in Vienna, articles in praise of Hitler and his minions implicated him as a collaborator.
This was a Ukrainian nationalist who was well aware of the situation of Jews in Europe under the Nazi jackboot, when Hitler had dedicated his country and its resources not only to a catastrophic world war causing the deaths of millions of combatants and civilians alike, but to the Final Solution in his determination to expunge Europe of its undesirables, beginning with the Jews whom his propaganda likened to lice and scum and blood-suckers, all terms favoured by those who copied the fascist racist line on the extermination of Jews.
Canada's leading newspapers were decidedly unimpressed with this Liberal party's star cabinet member's response to a perfectly logical question which she chose to bat away as inconsequential, merely representing a Russian plot to impugn her honour, by association. If her honour was besmirched, unfortunately, it was through her own disingenuous and deliberately misleading response to leave the impression that her grandfather was blameless, and those dastardly Russians were at it again.
She disgraced herself, and in so doing, made her effectiveness in a signal position in the Government of Canada untenable. As a stalwart supporter of Ukraine, in line with Canada's own official position in the controversy over Vladimir Putin's contempt for Ukraine striving for independence from Russia and still reeling from the annexation of Crimea, she also gives no recognition whatever to Ukraine's unfortunate tendency to regard its ultranationalist fascist groups with the status, during the war, as heroes.
The sins of the grandfather cannot be visited upon his granddaughter, but the granddaughter chose to besmirch herself with the sin of evading the truth to protect her position as a crusader against Russian criminal hegemony, politicizing a simple clarification request in a manner injurious to trust in her judgement through the free-will choice to be evasive, obstructive and untruthful.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland meets with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.