American Thinker | J.R. Dunn | July 15, 2008
It’s difficult to avoid exasperation over the left’s absolute refusal to acknowledge the new realities of the Iraq war. The surge, the Anbar awakening, the collapse of the militias (particularly that belonging to everybody’s favorite would-be caliph, Moqtada al-Sadr) — it’s as if none of it ever happened, as if one the most impressive turnabouts in modern military annals never took place.
The left, including its Democratic political wing and placeholders in the media, continue on with the same defeatist drone that we’ve heard since 2003, concentrating on lone (and mercifully rare) suicide bombers, emphasizing Coalition casualties, and highlighting the new government’s difficulties.
(Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Mr. B.H. Obama, a Democratic senator currently running for president. Reports last week hinted that Obama was about to climb down from his intention to abandon Iraq sixteen months after taking office. But he held tight, assuring reporters he had in no way abandoned his plan for peace in our time.)
There’s no point in waiting for the nickel to drop at last. The American left has not missed the unfolding victory in Iraq, nor are they ignoring it. They have forgotten it. They have taken it in, analyzed it, weighed the results, and then flushed it from memory as completely and brutally as a Ministry of Truth goon from 1984.
The process of selective amnesia is an important and often overlooked aspect of the left-wing mentality. It’s a direct inheritance from the communists, for whom the capacity to self-edit was often a matter of life and death. In Stalin’s Soviet Union, honored heroes of the Revolution could suddenly turn into traitors to the Worker’s Paradise and just as suddenly into nonentities on a day-to-day, if not an hour-to-hour basis. Among survivors, the capacity to manipulate memory was honed to a fine instinct. Mentioning the name of a nonperson could get you put on a list, if not shoved aboard the next cattle train headed for the Arctic. Soon, people would be forgetting about you.
This process was also extended to history. At the time of the Bolshevik coup, Stalin was dawdling well to the east of St. Petersberg. He played no serious role in the events that put the Soviets in power. But after he consolidated his position in the early 30s, it turned out he had been everywhere — advising Lenin, giving speeches to the masses, leading armed revolutionaries. People who remembered differently were soon trying to remember what life was like in regions where the temperature occasionally rose above zero.
The practice — and the choking terror that provoked it — soon spread to the international parties, including the CPUSA. Disasters and crimes occurring in the USSR were subject to the same treatment. When Walter Duranty, a paid Soviet propagandist, announced through the New York Times that the Ukrainian Famine hadn’t happened, the event was duly put away, even though photographs and eyewitness accounts had been circulating around the country for months. Fifty years later, Robert Conquest’s outstanding study of the atrocity, Harvest of Sorrow, was greeted as a revelation.
The same occurred with the purges, the show trials, the mass relocations. Numerous defectors, among them Walter Krivitsky, Igor Gouzenko, and Victor Kravchenko, laid out the facts repeatedly beginning in the late 1930s. All were run through the left’s forgetfulness machine.
Possibly the greatest act of selective mass amnesia — certainly the fastest — occurred in the summer of 1941. For two years following the August 1939 gangster pact between Hitler and Stalin, international communist parties protested the war against Nazism. The American left worked itself into a frenzy in support of Hitler and his occupation of Europe. A particular target was U.S. materiel aid to Great Britain, at the time standing alone against the Nazi monolith. The campaign’s centerpiece was to have been “Peace Week”, scheduled for the last week of June 1941. Unfortunately, Hitler chose June 22nd to send three army groups armed with over 4,000 Panzers against the Soviet Union.
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