This peaceful co-existence was recently tested in 2013. International debates over the possibility of intervention in Syria resurrected the Cold War sentiments in the mainstream media. The re-plays of James Bond films, featuring Russian villains, flooded TV channels. Politicians and talking heads on television repeatedly referred to Russia as an “evil nation” that cannot be trusted. Mainstream media demagogues, normally unconcerned with anything that takes place beyond American borders, proceeded to dissect Russian laws, events and politics.
The cutthroat, dog-eat-dog approach from employers, landlords and co-workers is sometimes hard to handle for good-natured, trusting CIS immigrants. Many of them eventually return to their home countries. Others turn to crime and substance abuse, out of desperation. Those who stay and persevere, become valued members of the American society. Their plight to survive, combined with mistrust towards the government and law enforcement, is shared by many Americans. Indiscriminate mass surveillance, prosecutions of whistleblowers and infringements on the freedom of press have awakened the country to the deterioration of constitutional rights and freedoms in the United States. Massive unemployment and poverty add to the uneasy atmosphere.
As the American economy is struggling, the unemployment is on a rise. In West Hollywood, the unemployment rate is a lot higher than the nationwide average. Recent job growth rate is in minus. Formerly bustling Russian stores, restaurants and bakeries see a reduced number of customers. Busy Santa Monica Boulevard sits uncharacteristically quiet, in spite of California’s perfect weather. Patiently overcoming setbacks and disappointments in the melting pot of America, resilient Russian immigrants continue their pursuit of the elusive American dream.