To South Dakota from Russia with love
How does the land of indefinite variety get caught up in these things? South Dakota is making an international name for itself. And South Dakota may be under attack. The state’s current Russia problem arises from the state’s longstanding practice of hospitality. Now, without doubt hospitality is an honorable practice. South Dakota welcomes aliens (anyone who does not speak the dialect and who does not appreciate chislic) as tourists and hunters. As a kid hunting with my dad and uncle I remember them hosting exotic foreigners – a judge from Minnesota, a judge from Chicago and most curious of all – a judge from Arkansas.
Based on current news reports this hospitality toward foreigners continues in the state. Consider the somewhat infamous, and now indicted, Russian lady who is criminally charged with conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent (one could read spy). The native of Russia apparently came to the South Dakota to hunt, to lecture at the University of South Dakota, to set up a South Dakota company or two and may have also considered residency. As a brilliant effort toward international relations she compared the climate of Siberia with that of South Dakota in an article written for fellow travelers.
"My notion of the KGB came from romantic spy stories," Russian President V. Putin from a 2005 Washington Post article. Are the Russians coming? Well, yes in a manner of speaking they are already here. Just ask someone of German Russian heritage in the bustling metropolises of Hoven, Eureka or my hometown of Aberdeen. But what about contemporary Russians? Well, yes it appears they are also invading the state. We must then look to historical precedent to address the recent invasion. I refer to an important historical movie on the invasion of America by Russians. In that movie (The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming) Russians landed in America and were speaking to a local young American.
Russian Lieutenant Rozanov: [thick Russian accent] “Very clever little boy. Very, very clever, to see that my friend and I are foreigners here, but of course not Russian, naturally. What would the Russians be doing on United States of America island, with so many animosities and hatreds between these two countries? It is too funny an idea, is it not? No, we... we are of course... Norweegans.”
Walt Whittaker: “Norwegians?”
Russian Lieutenant Rozanov: [nods] “On a small training exercise for the Nyaato countries...”
Comrade Alexei Kolchin: “yes NATO”
I see problems with this new invasion. I am of German Russian heritage. This publicity about Russia could give German Russians a bad name. First off, the alleged Russian spy was not granted bail on her pending federal charges. She is considered a flight risk. If she makes bail she may seek sanctuary in one of the remote but well stocked hunting lodges located throughout the state. It would be unfavorable notoriety for the state if the feds laid siege to a hunting lodge to recover the defendant - all in front of TV cameras. That would not look good on the news. One should seek clarification from state authorities on whether South Dakota is a sanctuary state. My second problem: ongoing developments concerning the Russian lady, now in jail awaiting legal proceedings, may give anyone loosely associated with Russians a bad name, or at least bad karma. South Dakotans of German Russian heritage should consider this. I suggest that all those of German Russian heritage re-label themselves as Italians or Greeks.
Like angels of mercy, have the Russians and their friends descended upon the state for the goodwill of all mankind? Possibly. In today’s world South Dakotans have much in common with the government of Russia except perhaps for language, democracy, freedom of speech, a legal system and certain morals.
Is Russia trying to get access to political power through the people of Middle America? When looking at the official Russian spy manual one reads a description of Americans from the middle of the country: “They may be more provincial than coastal big city people. They may be a little more naive or innocent than coastal city people. The less they know, the better they sleep. Not to worry, sophisticated Midwesterners do not exist.”
Is Middle America the soft underbelly through which Russian machinations are to be practiced? Are state residents to become the new tool of foreign interests? The intrusion of Russia into South Dakota is not to be ignored. These people have a studied understanding of regional people in the U.S. This is borne out by the movie I cited. In the movie a keen-eyed Russian military officer states:
Officer Brodsky: [in Russian] Hey, look here. Wheat! American wheat!
Officer Hrushevsky: [picks up a handful and sniffs it; in Russian] That's not wheat you idiot! It's fertilizer.
Officer Brodsky: [in Russian] Fertilizer? You mean manure? Cow...
Officer Hrushevsky: [in Russian] Yes !
Should these developments be of ongoing concern in the state? Is South Dakota obligated to erect a wall around its border? A good number of sophisticated U. S. politicians and leaders proudly had their picture taken with the alleged Russian spy. She was also invited to give a speech at the University of South Dakota.
Everything has a moral if only you can find it. Here the moral is to be aware that Russians may have infiltrated South Dakota society. There are practical remedies for this situation. A longstanding rule based on experience tells us that when one is approached by a Russian bearing favors, giving advice, or offering to do good, you run for your life in the other direction while holding tightly to your wallet. I anticipate local stores in the state will now do strong sales in running shoes.
David Ganje of Ganje Law Offices in Rapid City, South Dakota, practices in the area of natural resources, environmental and commercial law.