Monday, March 13, 2006


Bush and Stalin -- A Comparison

Jay Nordlinger, in his latest Impromptus up at National Review Online, passes along a stirring recollection from Peter Kirsanow. This was in response to some silliness on the part of the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra (in Western Massachusetts), who presented a program designed to “suggest parallels between political repression under the Soviets and similar tendencies in the United States under the Bush Administration.”

In response to a mention by Nordlinger about the concert, Peter Kirsanow, Commissioner on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, wrote in. His piece should be required reading for all the nitwits who think making a comparison between Bush and Stalin (or Hitler for that matter) makes for good rhetoric. (Or, does anything other than reveal a pseaker’s partisanship, lack of historical sense, or both.

The theme of the Berkshire Symphony, suggesting parallels between Stalinist repression and "similar tendencies in the United States under the Bush administration," made magma come out of my nostrils, and I'm annoyed at myself as a consequence. After seeing hundreds of such comparisons from those who fancy themselves enlightened but succeed merely in showcasing galactic moral vanity, I usually just shake my head and return to the real world. But this one is particularly ironic.
My father used to spend many evenings listening to Shostakovich, often with a wistful expression on his face. As a Russian soldier in the Red Army, he had been detained and brutalized by the NKVD after WWII on suspicion of being less than a robust supporter of Stalin. He escaped before being executed, but not before he saw scores of others also endure horrific tortures before being killed.
He often related to me how people would disappear for no reason other than uttering a mild complaint about, say, the length of a bread line, the weakness of the tea, or the scarcity of toilet paper. Family members of the offending parties might also disappear — the dreaded knock on the door in the middle of the night (and they didn't even have a Patriot Act!). Of course, he was witnessing on a micro-level what we now know happened to millions of people during that era (thanks to Mr. Solzhenitsyn, no thanks to Mr. Duranty). Even listening to a disfavored composer like a Shostakovich would mean disappearance.
My father didn't spend much time worrying about frivolous artists who refuse to acknowledge that if any U.S. administration were even remotely like the Stalinists, those artists would be sent to ANWR for merely planning a program based on Shostakovich. Rather, he spent his last few years taking his little granddaughter for long walks and making sure they saluted every single American flag they encountered along the way.

In light of Kirsanow’s recollections of his father, can there be any greater foolishness that all these choruses of the “No to Fascism” left? (Dear Lord, they never objected so much to Stalin and his ilk when such were the threats we faced.)

Can there be critics more willfully blind or obstinate, as they who to sit comfortably ensconced in true liberty, protected fully with freedom speech, who can so blithely and with complete lack of irony suggest they lack freedom of speech?

There are vast reaches of oppositional political discourse I might indulge – to keep my mind open and my opinions challenged – but for this insistence that the very modest attempts of the current administration to confront an enemy as determined as they are ruthless, poses a “dangerous threat to our basic freedoms.”

For those who think we exaggerate the threats of Radical Islam and its global terrorist practitioners, I say: think what you will. If recent and unfolding history can’t convince you of the genuineness of the impending dangers we face, nothing will. You are lost in your own world, and only disaster met face to face has any hope of waking you up.

But for those of you who both insult an elected President, and dismiss the reality of the carnage wreaked by the greatest evils of the 20th century, I say: you fight the wrong enemy. There is a growing threat that is already overwhelming the democracies of Europe. Avowed and committed enemies exploit every utterance of the unhinged left to their gain and advantage. They teach seminars on how to use the freedoms of the West against us. How to exploit the media, how to curry sympathy on the part of misguided academics and other elites. They hate any real “multiculturalism,” and terminate any in their midst who do not conform to religious orthodoxy, but they are very happy to turn our own sensitivities against us.

These enemies take up arms of violence against civilians, any civilians, in any way that can hurt the United States, Western democratic traditions, or any element of the West that remains defiant against their religious control. They are the truest inheritors of the Fascist and Communist totalitarian traditions.

And yet, the opponents of this war, with other sufferers of BDS, keep using their positions within academia and the arts to advance a call to arms against the only people prominently in the breach against our deadly enemies.

We need their informed attention. We need them to acknowledge the real threat. Instead they play symphonies to the old, discredited isms. I’d rather they think more, act more, and play less. But then, even the orchestra on the Titanic served a useful and noble purpose. Me, I’d rather they be helping with the lifeboats. Better yet, let them be a part of the team that designs the plans that prevents the boat from sinking, in the first place.

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