ART BY ESTELLE ZHOU
The United States, for all the unbelievable drama it has undergone this year, has yet to be labelled a teen flick gone wrong. Well, Regina George, step back because it’s time for a new drama queen to reign supreme. In classically terrible chick flick fashion, this nation has managed to catapult itself into a “he said, she said” cat fight with our “archenemy”, Russia. And unfortunately, the following is not a summary of the next terrible box office bomb; rather, it is the part unbelievable, part obnoxious, all hilarious dramedy starring top stars, the United States and Russia.
On Jan. 10, the United States government officially approved changing the name of the street where the Russian Embassy is located. At first glance, this is not a big deal. But the proposed name, “Boris Nemstov Plaza”, is everything but a minor issue. If this were high school, the United States would be the kid starting the food fight.
Why is this simple name so controversial? Boris Nemstov, for whom the street now “honors,” was shot and killed on the steps of the Kremlin, the Russian government last year. Nemstov, who was a vocal member of the political opposition in Russia, was likely gunned down by avid supporters or top advisers of current president Vladimir Putin.
But regardless of who did it, the matter at hand is the United States’ clear jab at the current Russian government with the street’s rechristening. Such a callous renaming of Russia’s primary institution in America has aptly set the stage for more petty acts of retaliation.
And events have transpired as predicted.
Since the fateful event on Jan. 10, Russian leaders have been discussing their own little act of retaliation in the form of changing the name of the street on which the US Embassy stands to “1 North American Dead End,” an obvious ploy to get back at the initial pettiness of the American government.
Russian lawmaker Mikhail Degtyaryov initially proposed the name change for the US Embassy, claiming that the renaming process was well underway and that “the appropriate Moscow city would take up his suggestion,” which is clearly a mere act of revenge against the US.
Not petty enough for you?
This back-and-forth bickering between countries is, unfortunately, a fairly familiar mechanism of retaliation for many of the world’s biggest countries, not just Russia and the United States. Although these meaningless arguments appear unnecessary to many, it does not stop various governments from using them against each other.
For example, in 2014, the United States tried to rename a street near the Chinese Embassy to honor Liu Xiaobo, a dissident Nobel Peace Prize winner who was jailed for much of his life and died from cancer after not receiving medical care during his time in jail.
Although the decision was never acted upon, the news traveled to the Chinese, who, out of anger, went as far as proposing the name, “Osama bin Laden Road,” which would no doubt have stirred more trouble up had the suggestion been acted upon in the government.
In the end, neither country followed through with their decisions to rename the embassy addresses, saving the world from witnessing Mean Girls 2.0.
Except, it seems as though every time these trivial events occur, onlookers take such events as examples of how to act toward others in times of anger.
From these incidents, as well as countless other similar ones, people should realize the impact of unnecessary actions towards other countries. These incidents not only encourage unwarranted anger and hatred, but they also create disturbances and distractions for a country with bigger problems to worry about and bigger fish to fry.
When the United States went through the process of approving the Russian Embassy’s new address, the government had to spend extra time to authorize the suggestion. However, during the time they spent solving the unnecessary dilemma, they could have focused on revamping immigration or health policies.
Currently, news on the inefficiency of the American government when it comes to passing important laws seems unending. People do not seem to realize that the government shutdown on Jan. 19, just days after the ratification of the Russian Embassy’s new address, may have been prevented had the government seen that there were many, more pressing, issues that needed to be solved.
Citizens of the world need to take initiative and begin to realize that these petty arguments are a large contributing factor to the backlog of effective policy in our society today. When government officials complain about slow advancements and problematic situations plaguing the country, they must learn to step back first and survey the destruction that they themselves have created by lashing out at other countries.
Otherwise, we might find ourselves witnessing a reiteration of the iconic “Mean Girls,” just a more distasteful and disappointing version.