Friday, September 13, 2013

Historical Revisionism and the Berlin Wall Monument

     The town I live in, Mountain View, California, is dedicating a monument soon to stand beside our public library. It consists of two slabs of the Berlin Wall, stood on their ends, facing each other. From the amount of concrete and rebar used in the monument construction, it would appear they went through even more trouble to erect this than the Commies did in the beginning to put it up in the first place. And the kicker of it all is a plaque that stands before this simulacra of the World Trade Center Towers (one image which comes to mind). This reads (and I am not making this up!): "A Tribute to the Resolve of the American People". WTF?

     As if the people of Germany, Hungary, Czechlosovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and even Russia had Nothing To Do With This! No! Instead, the American People, all the while enthused and distracted with their own Hollywood abstractions such as Gordon Gekko and Indiana Jones - and their "Great" Hollywood President, Ronald Reagan- had more to do with the coming of Democracy, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the Velvet Revolution than did the populations of those countries most affected by the evil, oppressive wall! 

     But for those of us who were there, the fall of the Soviet Union was a result not of "the resolve of the American people" but of the Russian people and the populations of the nation-states which their Communist Party had welded together by force of arms into the Iron Curtain bloc. Each one of these nations took their own way out of the noose Comrade Stalin had woven for them at the end of the Second World War. And the Russians themselves, hungry-starved for Western culture, rock and roll, blue jeans, and capitalism, either voted with their feet or with rocks in the streets to let Comrade Gorbachev know- We're Not Gonna Take It. Vaclav Havel's friendship with Frank Zappa blossomed as Czechs took him for a new hero and appreciated him in ways the American public never could. Brylcreem "Glamour Boy" Ronnie and his high-flung spaced-out space-laser-defenses dream didn't do it. Communism itself fell of its own corruption and its hostage people's dreams of liberty. Lennon, not Lenin, was the prophet of their day.

    But you see, this is not the way it plays, generally, in the mainstream American media, nor the Main Street American mind. It's shown best most recently in the baboonish breast-beating of the American War Party (comprised, of course, of members of both major American political parties) over the recent Op Ed published in the New York Times by Russia's current president, Vladimir Putin. Marsha Lipman of The Atlantic, often these days a sensible publication of critique, falls all over herself trying to convince people there is no sincerity in Mr. Putin's position. She says, quote, "God is not a part of the Russian political language?" --  Excuse me? As if  the biggest, most single reason, besides the appeal of the West with rock and roll, was not the Christian community of Russia- long repressed, reduced to hiding its Bibles and icons in drawers and behind walls for 75 years, watching its churches blown up and/or turned into stables, candle factories etc, etc-- for the final defeat and expulsion of Communism? Putin shows he has a Christian character, and her first instinct is to warn us all "don't you dare believe him!"

     This goes along with a basic under-appreciation of the Russian culture, and character, by Americans. For while Russians have long admired and loved Americans (and American culture), Americans, in general, will never love and admire Russians. The imprint of the Cold War and its propaganda- from both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific- is too strongly ingrained in the American psyche. Along with an illiterate assumption that Cyrillic is NOT  a variant on the Greek alphabet, but "our alphabet backwards", Americans hold a deep grudge built of fear against the Soviet Union. This was in part due to the wariness of folks like Senator Joseph McCarthy, who saw a Red behind every bedpost, and continues in the present day with the likes of the insane John McCain and the bloodthirsty Lindsey Graham, whose bellicosity rivals that of Dr. Strangelove's General Bud Turgidson. They need to get into a shootin' war- with someone! What, you think they pay us to stand around and wait for one?  Er, um, why, yes. Putin might have been an officer of the KGB (not, as some have misrepresented him, the head of the KGB)  but he's also the elected leader of a young democratic republic. 

     The rise of that republic and its declaring itself a constitutional one owes an awful lot to the initial impetus of the American Revolution. Americans should see themselves continuing the revolutionary tradition. Monarchy and theocracy are anathema to its causes and purpose. Why are we in bed with the Saudi Arabians, who represent the worst of both,  a marriage bathed in oil and consummated in Hell? We should be overthrowing the oil overlords, not cozy paly-walying around with them in places like Syria, where neither nation belong, actually. 

     So to you, my friends over in the former Soviet Union, and all its formerly satellite states, I want to wish you the very best this end of the year, a warm winter season, and pray for peace and the continued friendship of our nations, once again, despite our respective leaders. Grand Jatte has a huge readership in Russia, Germany, Latvia, and Ukraine, actually. (These alone account for over 717 of 4465 cumulative page views, or 16%).  I'm grateful to have people like yourselves to write for. And people like me, we bow to you. We recognize that the defeat of the Soviet Union itself truly belongs to you, not to America. I wish you the blessings of liberty and prosperity to you and your posterity. Meanwhile, there are those of us in the USA who are busy working on getting our own back! Perhaps a most fitting graffiti for this new monument created out of the rotten, destroyed Berlin Wall ought to be "NSA = KGB!" After all, it was we Americans who started all this Independence and Liberty stuff, if it still means anything to us. And if there is any tribute at all to the "resolve of the American People" it's that we just prevented another nutcase leader from dragging us into a war we didn't want.

Being President of the United States of America means never having to say you're sorry:

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