“Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” — Winston Smith, 1984
When Russia annexed Crimea, the international community saw it as an inevitable re-acquiring of a majority ethnic Russian area by Moscow. When Putin ordered the invasion of the Donbas area of Eastern Ukraine, the world still hoped he would limit his belligerence to supporting the separatist pro-Russian Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.” Today Putin revealed his true ambition — the desire to recreate the Soviet Union.
And in his regressive quest, he found giddy cheerleaders among America’s nihilistic temple-wreckers. Those who believe that civility and civilization are the trappings of weakness. And whose dismal aim, in their absence of greatness, is to make their mark by tearing down the legacy of great men.
Trump will never be Lincoln. Steve Bannon is no George C. Marshall. And Tucker Carlson lurks in the shadows beyond Edward Murrow’s light. And let us note that shilling for autocracy is an equal opportunity profession as seasoned fanatics, like Laura Ingraham, make common cause with more recently minted gadflies, like Candace Owens and professional autocrat apologists, like Tulsi Gabbard.
When the Russians last threatened global stability, conservative Americans searched under every American bed for a Soviet monster. Joe McCarthy was the paranoid-in-chief fighting to expose the red menace in the military, the State Department, and the home of unAmericanism — Hollywood. Evangelicals led crusades to crush the domestic godless enemy with Christian sloganeering about a nation under God, in whom the citizenry trusted.
But now, the descendants of these ‘commie haters’, while embracing the excess of their progenitors, have fallen in love with the enemy and showered a Bobby-soxer’s uncritical adoration on the idol of their affection, the virulently anti-American dictator, Vladimir Putin
History presents the Cold War as the conflict between two ideologies — free markets and communism. That’s window dressing. The fight was between liberalism and thuggery — the yin and the yang of the human condition. World War II was a contest between the promise of freedom offered by the Western allies and the thuggery of the Nazis, the Italian fascists, and Japan’s imperial expansionism.
The Soviets were an anomaly. They were both the enemy of an enemy, thus our friend - and a nation in the grip of thuggery. It was no surprise that after the Allies defeated their enemy, the liberal West was soon at odds with the new Eastern exponent of thuggery.
Liberalism triumphed with the collapse of the USSR. But how soon we forget. Thirty years later, a vocal nihilism has seduced a significant segment of the American population to support thuggery and turn its back on over two centuries of the ideals that made America great. Although, We should not be surprised. From slavery, through Jim Crow, and anti-immigrant hostility, to today’s anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry, America has shown a capacity for thuggery.
Before WWII, the German/American Bund demanded America remain neutral or even fight on the side of the Nazis. But after Pearl Harbor, decency prevailed. That unity behind the just cause is no longer a facet of the American experience. Anti-America Russia attacks pro-America Ukraine, and conservative Americans line up to shower encomiums on the enemy dictator while lobbying brickbats at the American President. What do these people stand for?