On Monday, a viral photo showed a sign asserting that the National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin had removed all Russian mustards from being displayed as a show of support for the Ukrainian people.
Critics took it as another piece of evidence that there is growing Russophobia in response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but Barry Levenson, the former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin and the founder and curator of the museum, told The Daily Wire that this was all a big misunderstanding.
Levenson told The Daily Wire that he has mustard displays from around the world and that the museum had about six Russian mustards. As seen in the photo below, those condiments were replaced by the following sign:
as seen at the Wisconsin mustard museum pic.twitter.com/tynV4sCg5c
— David is Employable (@ExodiacKiller) March 13, 2022
The museum decided to remove them as a way of showing the Ukrainian people support. Levenson was confused by the uproar behind the decision.
It was never about showing hatred or discrimination against the Russian people, according to Levenson. Still, many people saw it as the latest in a series of perceived Russia-phobic moves, such as the canceling of Russian piano prodigy Alexander Malofeev from the Montreal orchestra.
“Gosh, as a former lawyer, I understand what happened in the Japanese internment camps and how wrong it was then,” Levenson said in response to people who believe there was prejudice behind the decision. The museum “never intended” to encourage Russophobia, he told The Daily Wire.
Levenson also made the distinction between the Russian people and Putin.
“This is Vladimir Putin’s government,” Levenson said to The Daily Wire. “I don’t know anybody supporting him,” he added.
Nonetheless, “somebody took a picture of the sign” and put it on the internet. It created a “firestorm,” and employees have been fielding calls from angry people around the world, according to Levenson.
“It’s a bit of a pain in the a**,” Levenson remarked.
The curator of the museum, which boasts more than 6,000 mustards from around the world, said that he was “not really sure what should be done. Some people are angry.”
“It was just a way of showing support for Ukraine, the invasion was wrong … Maybe it was an awkward way of showing support?” he pondered.
For those concerned that the mustard was destroyed, or worse, Levenson told The Daily Wire, “I have the mustards. The Russian mustards are in my office — along with nearly every other kind of mustard in the world.”
He also stressed that consumers should not blame Russian mustard companies for the war or get the impression that he opposes Russian mustards and the Russian people.
“My wife’s first cousin is from Moscow, a teacher in Vermont,” Levenson explained, refuting that he somehow had any anti-Russian animosity. “My ancestry is Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.”
“We have Ukrainian mustards on display, not many, but we have them,” he added.
The story behind the National Mustard Museum is something that can only happen in America:
According to Barry Levenson, founder & curator of the National Mustard Museum, you can blame it all on the Boston Red Sox. In the wee hours of October 28, 1986, after his favorite baseball team had just lost the World Series, Barry was wandering an all-night supermarket looking for the meaning of life. As he passed the mustards, he heard a voice: If you collect us, they will come.
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