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Olympic Coverage Sweeps Soviet Horrors Under the Rug
Townhall.com ^ | February 14, 2014 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 02/14/2014 6:02:03 AM PST by Kaslin

Hannah Arendt coined the term "the banality of evil" to describe the galling normalcy of Nazi mass murderer Adolf Eichmann. Covering his trial in Jerusalem, she described Eichmann as less a cartoonish villain than a dull, remorseless, paper-pushing functionary just "doing his job."

The phrase "banality of evil" was instantly controversial, largely because it was misunderstood. Arendt was not trying to minimize Nazism's evil, but to capture its enormity. The staggering moral horror of the Holocaust was that it made complicity "normal." Liquidating the Jews was not just the stuff of mobs and demagogues, but of bureaucracies and bureaucrats.

Now consider the stunted and ritualistic conversation ("controversy" is too vibrant a word for the mundane Internet chatter) about the Soviet Union sparked by the Winter Olympics. The humdrum shrugging at the overwhelming evil of Soviet Communism leaves me nostalgic for the Eichmann controversy. At least Arendt and her critics agreed that evil itself was in the dock; they merely haggled over the best words to put in the indictment.

What to say of the gormless press-agent twaddle conjured up to describe the Soviet Union? In its opening video for the Olympic Games, NBC's producers drained the thesaurus of flattering terms devoid of moral content: "The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history's pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it's passion that endures."

To parse this infomercial treacle is to miss the point, for the whole idea is to luge by the truth on the frictionless skids of euphemism.

In America, we constantly, almost obsessively, wrestle with the "legacy of slavery." That speaks well of us. But what does it say that so few care that the Soviet Union was built -- literally -- on the legacy of slavery? The founding fathers of the Russian Revolution -- Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky -- started "small," merely throwing hundreds of thousands of people into kontslagerya (concentration camps).

By the time Western intellectuals and youthful folk singers 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."

Hava Volovich, a once-obscure newspaper editor turned slave laborer, has a baby, Eleonora, in captivity. Eleonora spends her first months in a room where "bedbugs poured down like sand from the ceiling and walls." A year later, Eleonora is wasting away, starving in a cold ward at slave "mothers' camp." She begs her mother to take her back "home" to that bedbug-infested hovel. Working all day in the forest to earn food rations, Hava manages to visit her child each night. Finally, Eleonora in her misery refuses even her mother's embrace, wanting only to drift away in bed. Eleonora dies, hungry and cold, at 15 months. Her mother writes: "In giving birth to my only child, I committed the worst crime there is."

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 6-8 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.

If it is conventional wisdom that the Nazi Holocaust was worse than the Soviet Terror, you would at least think earning the silver in the Devil's Olympics would earn something more than feckless wordsmithery and smug eye-rolling from journalists and intellectuals. Imagine if instead of Sochi these games were in Germany, and suppose the organizers floated out the swastika while NBC talked of the "pivotal experiment" of Nazism. Imagine the controversy.

But when the hammer and sickle float by, there's no outrage. There is only the evil of banality.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Russia
KEYWORDS: communism; olympics; sovietrussia; vladimirputin

1 posted on 02/14/2014 6:02:04 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

We live in an evil world where most people are bad, not good. God’s creation chose against Him


2 posted on 02/14/2014 6:08:25 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: Kaslin

hammer and sickle float by, there’s no outrage. There is only the evil of banality.

Countries can change, except for America of course when 1% owned slaves hundreds of years ago and there is no condemning countries having slaves today of course.

You cannot move forward stuck in the past.


3 posted on 02/14/2014 6:09:14 AM PST by edcoil ( "All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone." - Blaise Pascal)
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To: Kaslin

Who has the TV rights in the USA? Oh right...NBC does. Big surprise.


4 posted on 02/14/2014 6:10:34 AM PST by mmichaels1970
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To: Kaslin
WOW! I will have to facebook comment later to Jonah.

It's so sad that people today buy this crap. I saw the other day Sarah Palin talking about kids not reading "1984" or Animal Farm". I always thought that the commies would eventually go away, but not so.

5 posted on 02/14/2014 6:13:40 AM PST by defconw (Well now what?)
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To: edcoil

Well that shows you that the left wing media is stuck on stupid


6 posted on 02/14/2014 6:14:41 AM PST by Kaslin (He neeExcelded the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin

If only those were the only horrors that NBC and its ilk routinely sweep under the rug...


7 posted on 02/14/2014 6:14:43 AM PST by John Valentine (Deep in the Heart of Texas)
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To: Kaslin
WOW! Mr. Goldberg is one Hell of a writer. All "newscasters" talking heads are to me are Commie puppet tools picking at the carcass of our Rights & Freedoms. TV truly is the one eyed monster.
8 posted on 02/14/2014 6:24:06 AM PST by 4yearlurker (Some people say that experts agree!!)
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To: Kaslin

I am confused. It might be because I have not watched one minute of Olympic coverage. Is communism alive and well in Sochi? It appears alive and well in the USA since it doesn’t appear there are but a few elected officials who oppose state control of the lives of Americans and American businesses. The Third Way is marching toward that man created lie of equality. (Except for the ruling class, of course.) I guess if you can numb the populace with drugs, sex, and rock in roll, they won’t notice the march to communism until it is too late. But as in all communist states, incentive to work will disappear. What was once a thriving place will fill with mediocrity. God will no longer be welcome. And death and destruction will erupt. But I digress from the subject of this article which is the evils of a now dead communist state. Or is it?


9 posted on 02/14/2014 6:30:02 AM PST by petitfour
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To: petitfour

I have not watched the olympics either, but I have seen videos of the opening ceremonies and how nbc fell over each other when the hammer and sickle were carried by. They thought it was the greatest thing


10 posted on 02/14/2014 6:42:40 AM PST by Kaslin (He neeExcelded the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin

The Olympics was designed to be a non-governmental - non-political event. It has gotten away from that premise in some countries. However, it needs to be non-political - it
must be all about the athletes.


11 posted on 02/14/2014 7:00:59 AM PST by elpadre (AfganistaMr Obama said the goal was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-hereQaeda" and its allies.)
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To: Kaslin

I only saw a still shot of the hammer and sickle. I either saw it on Freerepublic or Drudgereport. Maybe both. I don’t remember. LOL I am not surprised that the media has difficulty dealing with coverage of communism. The media elites have been brainwashed into believing communism is the way to go. The Soviets just took the wrong approach to get there. If only we vote communism in, then it will be just grand. Never mind that they must alter the vote or import ignorant, dependent voters to reach their utopia.


12 posted on 02/14/2014 7:05:03 AM PST by petitfour
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To: edcoil

what I saw in the opening ceremony were a series of images of Russian history and the hammer/sickle image was one of several that floated by. They did not dwell or honor it in any way, just displayed it as part of the historical presentation. Agreed I may have missed something else, but that is what I saw.


13 posted on 02/14/2014 7:05:44 AM PST by elpadre (AfganistaMr Obama said the goal was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-hereQaeda" and its allies.)
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To: elpadre
The Olympics was designed to be a non-governmental - non-political event.

It has never been non political.

14 posted on 02/14/2014 7:16:47 AM PST by Ditto
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To: petitfour

I saw the video on Fox News


15 posted on 02/14/2014 7:16:52 AM PST by Kaslin (He neeExcelded the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin
If it is conventional wisdom that the Nazi Holocaust was worse than the Soviet Terror, you would at least think earning the silver in the Devil's Olympics

The reason for this disparity and the reason NAZIs are called "right wing" is the same: The NAZIs, as socialists and borderline Marixists, were out to kill their competitors: largely secular Jewish communists, the Spartacus League, who had made a total mess of Berlin, the San Francisco of the late teens. Hence the confusion: NAZIs are to the right of the communists, but still far left to the rest of us. Those who use the term "right wing NAZI" are betraying themselves.

16 posted on 02/14/2014 7:19:30 AM PST by Carry_Okie (0-Care IS Medicaid; they'll pull a sheet over your head and take everything you own to pay for it.)
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To: Kaslin

“...and how nbc fell over each other when the hammer and sickle were carried by. They thought it was the greatest thing.”

They are the propaganda arm of the American Bolsheviks, having twice gotten their commissar puppet elected. I for one always distinguish between “Soviet” and “Russian”; the hammer and sickle flew over more than a dozen other countries that today are free of it. It seems the only people who remember communism as it was are those that were enslaved by it for more than half a century (and those still under it); otherwise it has been glossed over...


17 posted on 02/14/2014 7:23:10 AM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: Kaslin

Jonah: we have a house of our own that needs cleaning.


18 posted on 02/14/2014 7:24:29 AM PST by Romulus
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To: Carry_Okie

“Those who use the term “right wing NAZI” are betraying themselves.”

Good points; if they repeat the lie often enough it becomes the truth. They also blur the distinction between “Nazi” and “Fascist” (despite Mussolini’s refusal to persecute Italy’s Jewish population and Franco offering refuge in Spain for many of Europe’s Jews). While both Nazism and fascism arose in response to the threat of communism, they had little else in common.


19 posted on 02/14/2014 7:33:09 AM PST by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: Kaslin
Why should we complain about the ex-Soviets? We have in the White House a whole team of Marxists pretending to be progressives who are all about taking away all of our freedoms and forcing a group of nuns to comply with Soviet-style religious mandates.

The banality of evil is upon US.

20 posted on 02/14/2014 8:05:37 AM PST by Slyfox (We want our pre-existing HEALTH INSURANCE back!)
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To: Kaslin

Did they revisit Nazi horrors when the games wee held in Austria?


21 posted on 02/14/2014 1:29:15 PM PST by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: JimRed

the games were held in Austria?


22 posted on 02/14/2014 1:30:20 PM PST by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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