In the spirit of Christmas, I have been striving to regain my faith in humanity. I want to believe again, as I did in my childhood, that people are better than cockroaches or staphylococci. For a while I was making progress. On Sunday, I enjoyed a magnificent performance of Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall (featuring my stepdaughter Virginia Warnken as the mezzo-soprano soloist). That helped. But, for the most part, my quest has proved to be tough sledding.
Today, my charitable yearning has been crushed like a bug under a jackboot, and I am once again inclined to view the human race as, by and large, an evolutionary blunder. As Exhibit A, I offer the statement of Sergei Malinkovich, leader of the St. Petersburg Communist Party:
In all opinion polls [Stalin] comes out on top as the most popular figure. Nobody else comes close. So for his service to this country we can forgive his mistakes. [emphasis mine]
Strange to say, Comrade Malinkovich also carries an icon of Stalin and wants to see Russia’s most monstrous mass-murderer made a saint.
If Malinkovich were a lone nut, one might dismiss his views as a deeply regrettable aberration, but according to recent reports, including the BBC News article from which I extracted his statement, millions of Russians still venerate Stalin and consider him the greatest Russian of all time.
I am no Russophobe. Indeed, I hold certain Russians in the highest regard. The country has produced composers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, and performing artists of the highest caliber, and their works adorn civilization wherever it dares to show its head. So, one can only wonder that having Mendeleev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Kolmogorov, and Shostakovich, among many others, to choose from, millions of Russians identify Stalin as the greatest man their nation has produced.
As against people who hold such views, I will embrace the cockroaches with relative gladness.
Note: D. Saul Weiner makes an excellent comment on Dr. Higgs' post:
We are a gullible species, that is for sure. Here in the U.S., we certainly glorify some questionable figures, as Dr. Higgs has well documented. I am told that many in China hold Mao in high regard as well. Perhaps it is only those tyrants who have lost major wars who are in the end discredited as they should be.