Raul Rebane: Heroes are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost

Raul Rebane.
Raul Rebane. Source: Kairit Leibold / ERR

We have a crisis – a crisis of ethics, morality and behavior, Raul Rebane says in Vikerraadio's daily comment.

It was a remarkable week full of important events that directly influence our lives. First of all, America elected Joe Biden as its next president. While Donald Trump has vowed to fight the results in court, it is likely to be of no use.

The biggest and most immediate effect of Biden's victory in Estonia is the country's right-wing populists losing their spiritual father and base. Until now, you could say whatever you wanted in Estonia because Trump was sure to outdo you in the near future. The reaction of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) was therefore especially interesting to watch. And it wasn't long before Mart and Martin Helme, aided by EKRE MEP Jaak Madison, let loose on the radio with their words echoing still.

It is baffling how two government ministers and a MEP could step on that rake. It is impossible for them not to know that photos and text are perpetual, immediately translatable and shareable in the modern world. Mart Helme's statements were carried by the Washington Post on Sunday evening or virtually immediately after they were made.

There is a term called resonance in communication theory, meaning the autonomous spread of information. Someone heard something, forwarded or shared it on Facebook and if the information is interesting enough, it will continue spreading from there.

These EKRE positions caused the greatest resonance yet despite being voiced on a Sunday, with many politicians, journalists and ordinary citizens reacting in a matter of just a few hours. Facebook came alive. Those interested can read a lengthy post on Toomas Mattson's Facebook page (link in Estonian) on what Estonia, through the mouths of its ministers, thinks about America, democracy, black people, a female vice president, elections and a hundred other things.

Voter fraud at U.S. elections was, of course, the main topic. Martin Helme is convinced that "if a black person (Helme used the Estonian word "neeger" – ed.) goes to vote, they cannot be asked to produce ID because that could be construed as racism."

Mart Helme had a dream about Donald Trump walking across a field covered in guts and entrails. Trump crosses the filed and wins in the end. He also knows that the European Union is a self-castrating phenomenon, a sadistically and masochistically self-castrating phenomenon and that Biden no longer understands the world clearly. And that he is corrupt. It was a veritable encyclopedia of insults, lies and meanness.

But I urge everyone to read and listen to it themselves for it is a phenomenal text. Mart Helme's previous scandal that centered around his suggestion that the gays should move to Sweden was a baby's cooing by comparison.

Those interested in something similar can tune in to Russian propaganda network RTR shows on Sunday evenings, hosted by Kiselyov and Solovyov. What they had to say about U.S. presidential elections was very similar if a little more courteous. Where an Estonian government party's increasingly evident similarity with the Kremlin's ideology comes from makes for another topic.

Nassim Taleb has put it brilliantly in saying that "Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost." And the behavior of many is now being put to the test.

While Mart Helme said he would resign, EKRE remains part of the government. But it is the government of Jüri Ratas and not the national conservatives, at least as far as history and the rest of the world is concerned. Being associated with Trumpism, what is more, running a group that actively practices Trumpism, does not look good in one's CV, especially internationally. Personal image and his place in history could theoretically still interest Ratas. If it doesn't and if the coalition is the only thing that matters, the game is lost anyway.

There is another group whose behavior is being put to the test. Ourselves. How many of us liked the whole thing and also had a dream of Trump holding hands with the Helmes, walking across an entrail-covered field to run their respective countries? And how many of us are jarred and shocked by these bloody notions?

A crisis is a situation where normal conduct is rendered impossible by a new factor. This factor was the Sunday radio show and normal development is nowhere in sight. Therefore, we have a crisis – a crisis of ethics, morality and behavior. Who stands on which side of the river in this confrontation is up to us to decide.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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