Mainstream US media have been singing eulogies to the late Senator John McCain after he succumbed to brain cancer last weekend. Among them is a column in the Washington Post titled ‘The human rights community lost a champion.’
Author Jennifer Rubin describes how McCain “traveled the world to meet with dissidents, criticize dictators and support those struggling for freedom.” The chief example of his rooting for the “oppressed” was his trip to the Ukrainian capital Kiev during the beginnings of what would become the violent coup of 2014. On that trip, McCain, a belligerent and hawkish patriot of American interests, went on a makeshift stage at the Maidan, Kiev’s Freedom Square, and told the protesters: “The free world is with you. America is with you. I am with you.”
He did so while standing next to one of Ukraine’s most prominent ultranationalists, a man known for openly anti-Semitic rhetoric and deemed a neo-Nazi by a number of journalists, analysts and hate speech monitors.
Seen to McCain’s right in the very cover picture WaPo used for its story, is Oleg Tyagnibok (anglicized Ukrainian spelling Oleh Tyahnybok), the leader of All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” (“Freedom”) an ultranationalist political party formerly known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine. Tyagnibok is widely known for his 2005 call on the government to halt the “criminal activities” of “organized Jewry,” which he accused of plotting the genocide of Ukrainian people.
Svoboda is known for its support of WWII-era Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. The party has been recognized as anti-Semitic extremists by a wide array of officials and speakers, including the European Parliament, a number of European newspapers and political scientists, and a group of Israeli Knesset members.
Fast forward to 2014, and Tyagnibok is a freedom fighter, leading the Maidan uprising together with the rest of the anti-Russian group of then-opposition politicians, praised and endorsed by the West. When it came to picking official posts, however, Tyagnibok was sidelined as Petro Poroshenko won the presidency, Arseny Yatsenyuk took the Prime Minister’s post and Vitaly Klitschko became the mayor of Kiev.
Rubin, the WaPo columnist, triggered a baffled reaction when she posted her article on Twitter. A lot of commenters pointed out who exactly her hero McCain was standing next to on the Maidan.
Is this an attempt by neocon Rubin to get us to like the American backed Nazis in the Ukraine via linking them to McCain’s funeral or some sort of psyop like that? Asking for my dad’s family that was wiped out by the Nazis.
— OMEGA MAN aka $warthy Greek Immigrant (@MonitorBroke) August 28, 2018
Others brought up the late Senator’s own political history and how tenuously it was actually connected to human rights of any kind.
John McCain voted against South African Apartheid sanctions many times. Pick any huge human rights atrocity during John McCain’s life—Vietnam, Iraq, Yemen—and John McCain was on the wrong side of history every single time, Jen. pic.twitter.com/hNqQPa50y7
— Scott Wooledge 🌹 (@Clarknt67) August 28, 2018
John McCain rarely met an unjustifiable senseless war or intervention that he would not champion; he is the opposite of a humanitarian, the opposite of a “friend of the oppressed.” Afghanistan Bosnia Honduras Iran Iraq Libya Nigeria North Korea Serbia Sudan Syria Russia Ukraine
— TheTruthIsOutThere (@LuciHoneychurch) August 29, 2018
Still others just found the whole situation incredibly ironic.
In the era of US President Donald Trump, John McCain was idolized by the anti-Trump establishment media, politicians and public figures. Praised for standing up to the president at every turn, he was declared very nearly the epitome of a true American patriot. The sentiment was magnified by McCain’s passing, which sparked a fresh feud between Trump and the senator’s supporters, who wanted flags to stay at half-mast until his interment. Trump ultimately caved in to their demands.