I'm not much of a sports fan, but last night I thought I would check out some of the winter Olympics. And who was on there commenting for NBC but Vladimir Pozner. VLADIMIR POZNER!!! Am I the only one who remembers this guy?
It's now well over 20 years ago, but in the 1980s Vladimir Pozner was the official spokesperson for the Soviet Union on American television. In those days ABC had a late-night news/public affairs program called Nightline, hosted by a guy named Ted Koppel. Pozner was a regular guest. They had him on whenever they wanted someone to deliver the official Soviet line on anything. And to be fair to him, the guy was quite skilled. He had a truly remarkable ability to make the most brutal repression, murder and torture sound reasonable. But really, there was no mistaking what the guy was about.
I thought they gave Pozner way too much airtime at the time, but at least in the 1980s there was a legitimate reason to seek out the Soviet viewpoint on current events, however preposterous that viewpoint might be. But there's no reason to be respectful to this guy today. I can't think of why he is not completely reviled by every civilized person. Instead, he's sitting there giving the "Russian perspective" on ice skating and such, with nobody being so impolite as to mention that he made his name as the apologist for the killing, repression and imprisonment of his own people by one of history's most brutal regimes.
Well, Pozner is just one example. The past week saw an outpouring of astoundingly uncritical obituaries of Pete Seeger, the folk singer who died on January 27. Seeger was a long-time unhidden communist, supporter of and sometime apologist for Stalin and his successors. Some of the obituaries I read on Seeger never even mentioned the Communist association at all. The rest barely touched on it. Here's the New York Times obit, headlined "Pete Seeger, Champion of Folk Music and Social Change . . ." Social change? Read half way through the article and you'll come to one little line that says he joined the Young Communist League in the 30s, "but after two years he dropped out and moved to New York City." That's it? A somewhat more honest write-up can be found in the Atlantic here. Excerpt:
As late as the 1970s, in his column in the left-wing folk magazine Sing Out!, Seeger was giving space to horrifying ideas. Dealing with the case of Wolf Biermann, a socialist singer expelled from East Germany for dissidence, he gave space to correspondents arguing that there might appropriately be limits on what artists should say in an ideal Marxist regime. In 1999, he accepted an award from Fidel Castro’s regime.
And are we allowed to mention that he gave concerts supporting the Eastern European Communist regimes as late as the 80s? From John Fund in National Review Online:
I recall interviewing East German dissidents in 1989 who were still angry at Seeger and Kris Kristofferson for the concerts they did on behalf of the Communist regime that built the Berlin Wall. He was hailed in the pages of Neues Deutschland, the Communist-party newspaper in East Berlin, as “the Karl Marx of the teenagers.”
So what if those guys killed 25 million (or maybe 50 million) people. Seeger's OK because he was "one of us" and he was for "social justice." For endless effusive praise of Seeger, read the NYT piece, or maybe the obit in The Villager here.
Supporting mass murderers may be quite OK, but on the other hand, advocating a 5% cut in the food stamp program because it fosters unnecessary dependency and is infected by massive fraud? That's "devastating," "sheer meanness," "repugnant," "repulsive," "cruel," and "disastrous." I hope you're starting to get a little understanding of how this works.