By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep

The Ukrainian Diaspora must be reborn or at least reformed. If there is any doubt of the need then look no further than the recent controversy regarding a high profile Ukrainian-American activist. He marginalized the horror, travesty and enormity of the Holocaust by writing that “big money” drives the “industry.”

The Kyiv Post called the remarks “stupid.” That was charitable. The activist also has penned that Jews are partly responsible for the crimes committed under Communism. As the newspaper rightly pointed out Jews should not be held accountable any more than Georgians. Joseph Stalin was a Georgian. Yet no thinking, rational person would blame Georgians for the atrocities of Stalin. The newspaper urged the Diaspora to find suitable representatives that do not offer crude, shockingly ignorant and inflammatory comments that divide the family of humankind. The Kyiv Post offered a blunt, honest and accurate assessment.

The activist went with Secretary of State Colin Powell to President Viktor Yushchenko’s inaugural. The Bush Administration, red faced with embarrassment after learning of the activist’s views, later commented that had they known of such positions he would not have been invited to accompany Secretary Powell.
Independent of the embarrassment that many Ukrainians feel as a community regarding the controversy, there is a larger, more important issue that transcends the asinine outlook of one person that unfortunately tars the entire Ukrainian-American Diaspora community.

How should the Diaspora present itself to the world? The activist referenced above is not the face of the American Diaspora, though there is an unfortunate perception he represents it due to notoriety. The other question raised is the role of the worldwide Diaspora in a post-Soviet era. Either the Diaspora revisits its mission and embraces a changing world or it will be ignored.

Bishop Paul Peter Jesep