Thursday, February 25, 2010
OLYMPICS - February 25, 2010
Last week, I had a sudden start when I saw the Russian bobsled at the Olympics in Canada sporting the symbol of the two-headed Imperial eagle. It wasn’t nearly as bad as if the German team had arrived with a swastika on its hood, but the imperial eagle did give me a turn, and reminded me of the time in 1991 when the cousins of the Romanovs showed up in Russia, apparently expecting to be restored to the throne of the Russias. I realize that the symbol of the Tsars means little to the people of nearly a hundred years later, but I am the son of refugees from the ruins of their medieval world, and I could not help remembering the line from the poem “I am an American” by Elias Lieberman: “The history of my ancestors is a trail of blood to the palace gate of the Great White Tsar.” Of course the US was consumed in rejoicing that they had brought down the Bolsheviks, and loyalty to the spirit of the Cold War meant that no one spoke of the fact that the police state, the Gulags and the brutal way of dealing with enemies of the State had been inherited by the Reds from the old empire, to say nothing of the corruption and murderous ways that we can still read about in the Russian literature of the XIX century and the early years of the XX. So now all that is left of their pre-revolutionary history is the memory that the West was so busily shielding their dollars and pounds that they were willing to see almost all of civilization consumed by the various tyrants that the Robber Barons took on to beat the Reds. It is so in almost all of EU. The glamour and triumph of the Old Regime is remembered, whether it is in the Tomb of Napoleon or the victories of Wellington and Nelson. The memories of the grinding, ugly life of the Little People is lost in the nostalgia of people like Edmund Burke, while the excesses of Danton, Robespierre, Lenin and Mao are recited endlessly.