By now the war in Ukraine initiated by a small man isolated from everyone and everything has captured media attention, the focus of those who could not have found it on a map beforehand and people who say the world should stand up to dictators like Vladimir Putin while ignoring or excusing their own elites who do not do so.

Seriously, it’s this last one which has infuriated me the most apart from the actual conflict.

Why is it so many who are correctly standing against Russia now have never done the same with the rest of the world’s worst repressive people and their enablers? President Joe Biden has said those running Russia are corrupt, and yet has praised Jordan’s king as a “loyal and decent friend” in spite of him being named in the Pandora Papers leak into hidden wealth and once said Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was somehow, not a dictator.

Actor Sean Penn has been on the ground filming a documentary about the strife for VICE and has claimed the U.S. would lose its “soul” if it allowed Ukraine to once again fall victim to domination it endured during the Soviet era. A fair and passionate statement, to be sure, but the man also went to Venezuela after Hugo Chavez died and said he was there mourning a “friend” and someone who he really saw as a “great hero to the majority of his people.”

Funny how the comments change when the people being oppressed are overwhelmingly white. Penn must have not seen the torture, western politicians after the Second World War have opened arms and been willing to overlook the blood for any bad person with a check and lip service to give and celebrities like Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Lopez and Hilary Swank only have principles and decency when their fans are not paying any attention.

Why is any of this acceptable?

No one can say how this will all end and those who do are foolish. But, if there’s one thing I hope comes out of it, it’s a change in what we excuse of the rich and powerful and how they engage with the despots of the world. Coddling, connecting with them and accepting their cash only breeds instability and it is foolish to say otherwise.

Top Image: Protesters campaign against the war at a recent event in London. Photo by Gary Knight

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