We wrote previously about how NBC, in its Olympic coverage, deployed an appalling euphemism by referring to the Bolshevik revolution as a “pivotal experiment.” Well, NBC wasn’t done yet, because later in the week, Meredith Vieira declared the demise of the Soviet Union to be “a bittersweet moment.” As Jim Geraghty noted, this line was even worse than the “pivotal experiment” euphemism
because it suggested there was something sad about the greatest retreat of oppression in modern history. The phrase “pivotal experiments” is cowardly in its unwillingness to judge, but “bittersweet” is worse because it’s the inverse, saluting the oppressor and lamenting his departure.
NBC’s nonplussed attitude toward the crimes of communism was also noted by Jonah Goldberg.
By the time Western intellectuals and youthful folksingers like Pete Seeger were lavishing praise on the Soviet Union as the greatest experiment in the world, Joseph Stalin was corralling millions of his own people into slavery. Not metaphorical slavery, but real slavery complete with systematized torture, rape, and starvation. Watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, you’d have no idea that from the Moscow metro system to, literally, the roads to Sochi, the Soviet Union — the supposed epitome of modernity and “scientific socialism” — was built on a mountain of broken lives and unremembered corpses.
To read Anne Applebaum’s magisterial Gulag: A History is to subject yourself to relentless tales of unimaginable barbarity. A slave who falls in the snow is not helped up by his comrades but is instantly stripped of his clothes and left to die. His last words: “It’s so cold.”…
Multiply these stories by a million. Ten million.
“To eat your own children is a barbarian act.” So read posters distributed by Soviet authorities in the Ukraine, where 6 to 8 million people were forcibly starved to death so that the socialist Stalin could sell every speck of grain to the West, including seed stock for the next year’s harvest and food for the farmers themselves. The posters were the Soviet response to the cannibalism they orchestrated.
The awful details of the Ukrainian terror-famine, engineered by Soviet authorities in the early 1930s, can be found in Robert Conquest’s The Harvest of Sorrow.
An agronomist describes finding, on a walk with another official between two villages, a young woman dead, with a living baby at her breast. He saw from her passport that she was twenty-two years old and had walked about thirteen miles from her own village. They handed the baby–a girl–in to the nutrition centre at their destination, and wondered if anyone would ever tell her what became of her mother.
Arthur Koestler saw from his train starving children who ‘looked like embryos out of alcohol bottles’; or, as he puts it elsewhere: ‘the stations were lined with begging peasants with swollen hands and feet, the women holding up to the carriage windows horrible infants with enormous wobbling heads, stick-like limbs and swollen, pointed bellies…’ And this was of families with at least the strength to reach the railway line.
There are many such descriptions of the physical condition of the children. [Vasily] Grossman gives one of the fullest descriptions of how they looked, and how it got worse as the famine closed in: ‘And the peasant children! Have you ever seen the newspaper photographs of the children in the German camps? They were just like that: their heads like heavy balls on thin little necks, like storks, and one could see each bone of their arms and legs protruding from beneath the skin, how bones joined, and the entire skeleton was stretched over with skin that was like yellow gauze. And the children’s faces were aged, tormented, just as if they were seventy years old. And by spring they no longer had faces at all. Instead, they had birdlike heads with beaks, or frog heads–thin, wide lips–and some of them resembled fish, mouths open. Not human faces’. He compares this directly with the Jewish children in the gas chambers and comments, ‘these were Soviet children and those who were putting them to death were Soviet people’.
Slavery, mass murder, and cannibalism. For anyone like Meredith Vieira on NBC to euphemistically gloss over the enormities perpetrated by communism is absolutely reprehensible.