Khrushchev’s Granddaughter: “Trump’s America is in some ways even worse than Russia was during my Soviet childhood.”

Remember Nikita Khrushchev? Okay, maybe you, like me, only remember him from history books. He led the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and was removed from power in 1964 by his rivals. In any case, Khrushchev, who died in 1971, had a son named Leonid who was killed in World War II, leaving behind a two-year-old daughter named Julia. Khrushchev adopted his granddaughter Julia, who later had a daughter named Nina Khrushcheva. Thus, Nikita Khrushchev was both the great-grandfather and the adoptive grandfather of Nina Khrushcheva. Got it?

I said all that to introduce excerpts from an article written by Nina Khrushcheva (“Donald Trump’s not quite Joseph Stalin. But his ‘Fake News Awards’ should scare us”). She was born in the former Soviet Union in 1964 and today is a scholar and writer, working as an associate professor of international affairs at the New School, in New York, as well as a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. While Senator Jeff Flake is getting a lot of attention for comparing Tr-mp to Stalin, Khrushcheva has her own take:

As a former Soviet citizen, I am frequently overcome by a horror-movie feeling of fear and disbelief. It’s almost as if I don’t know where I am. In cosmopolitan New York? Or back in monotonous Moscow, listening to Soviet leaders boasting from the Kremlin about Communism’s drummed-up victories and denouncing their illusory enemies? … Frankly, Tr-mp’s America is in some ways even worse than it was during my Soviet childhood. When I was growing up in Moscow in the 1970s, not even Pravda used such menacing language for the Kremlin’s critics.

She wasn’t finished. She briefly discussed the history of a few autocracies who labeled journalists as enemies, journalists who “were subsequently censored, harassed, injured, or even killed just for doing their jobs.” She said that “America under Tr-mp,” although a place where journalists’ lives aren’t in real danger and they are free to provide “the real facts,” is nevertheless a place where Tr-mp’s attacks on journalists, his threats of lawsuits, his desire to change our libel laws, “can amount to the conditions of state censorship” because such actions are “designed to instill intimidation and fear.”

Khrushcheva—remember she grew up in the Soviet Union—ends her provocative piece this way:

Not only does Trump appear less democratic than the Soviet autocrat Khrushchev, but his anti-free speech rhetoric places him in unsavory company; the current pantheon of world rulers who share his disdain for the free press include Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, China’s Xi Jinping and the Philippines’s Rodrigo Duterte.

In democratic societies, a free press guaranties that the state’s menacing language can never turn into menacing actions against its people — as Stalin’s Gulags did. That’s how many dictatorships have thrived. Where would Nazi Germany be without Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who dubbed the Jews the “sworn enemy of the German people” because they doubted Adolf Hitler’s Aryan agenda?

Of course, the flashy real-estate tycoon-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-foulmouthed president is arguably more like Charlie Chaplin’s buffoon character in “The Great Dictator” (1940) than the real Hitler or Stalin. Or perhaps Trump is more like Hollywood’s mean clown “Pennywise” — “Trumpywise” — insulting some, punching others and scaring the rest.

But the danger of this nightmare is that it gets more real every day. And the longer it lasts, the harder it will be to wake up.

Our job is to keep the nightmare from becoming more real, and one way of doing that is by encouraging and supporting good journalism and calling out those among us—our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors—who can’t tell real journalism from propaganda.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Ben Field

     /  January 17, 2018

    Duane,

    Khrushchev said “We will bury you” referring to the west, but it appears Trump has the better chance of doing such, with his egotistical ignorance displayed daily. When almost half the nation believed and voted for such a wannabe despot, it doesn’t bode well for our future. Trump’s lack of intelligence prevents his attempt to become a dictator, but the amount of GOP voters that are enabling him is reprehensible.

    Sadly, there are people that I once thought of as friends, that still support this moron and his enablers. I can no longer respect these people as rational humans, however, I am encouraged the younger generation and that my three adult children do not have friends, such as I did that would support such prejudice and malice toward the less fortunate in our society. That is encouraging.

    I suspect it is as you say, we won’t know how morally bankrupt our country is until, at earliest the midterm elections, when we should witness the backlash against such treachery. If Mueller has completed his work by then with the obvious finding of treason, and there is no backlash against the would be tsar and his Cossacks, then all I can say my friend is “Das vadanya”.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • Well done, Ben. As I have said, I have problems dealing with people who not only voted for the sick, sick man, but who continue to support him. I am also having some problems with The New York Times and Washington Post, both of which have gone out of their way to “balance” their editorial pages with pro-Tr-mp voices, since so many of their staff conservatives are anti-Tr-mpers. Next, I suppose, the papers will give a shout out to those who genuinely believe the Earth is flat and that NASA is an agency full of producers, directors, and actors. I mean, Jesus, what the hell is going on? If you have to actively recruit conservative writers, when you already have a stable of them, just because the ones you have on the payroll don’t reflect the views of yahoos and know-nothings in rural Missouri, then that ought to tell people something. Yahoos and know-nothings in rural Missouri have their own newspapers with ridiculous race-baiting pro-Tr-mp writers like the Globe’s Caldwell.

      I’m also sick of seeing every Tr-mp voter, especially people of color who voted for the monster, on television spouting their ignorance and tolerance of clearly racist behavior. Every damn network has a group of Tr-mp voters on frequently to let us know they are still as ignorant as they were in November of 2016. Again, WTF?

      Speaking of Cossacks, I think the following (in an article about the Wolves’ Hundred that has been doing Russian dirty work in Ukraine) description describes what a would-be Tr-mp militia might say, if you change the names a little bit:

      They say they are volunteers driven by the ideals of their Cossack brotherhood — Russian imperialism, service to the sovereign and the heavenly mandate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

      Allah help us.

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      Reply
      • Ben Field

         /  January 19, 2018

        Duane,

        Thank you, my friend. What a disgusting, unholy mess the Republicans are making of this country. I hope Senate Democrats all demand Dreamers be protected or shut the damn train down. If the Repugs want to fail to pay our million man military to deport 800,000 young people who have never lived anywhere but here, so be it! I think failure of all Democrats to demand such would be acquiescing to racist, hate mongering.

        Like

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