Thursday, July 28, 2005

Who are the Communists again?

Before reading the following excerpt from Wedded Strangers, I'd thought marriages between Soviet and American citizens unlikely, but I hadn't realized that Joseph Stalin had prohibited them altogether.

In February 1947 an edict of the Supreme Soviet forbade marriages between Soviet citizens and foreigners. Though in general the ban was strictly enforced, a few marriages were permitted ... primarily between American men and Russian women, since relatively few American women were then working or living in Russia. By making the law retroactive, the Soviet government exerted pressure both on planned future marriages and on Russians already married to Americans, urging them to divorce their spouses and threatening sanctions if they did not. Measures aimed at preventing and breaking up these marriages included bugging telephones, tailing individuals on the street, threats of job loss and arrest and jail sentences on trumped-up charges. A Russian wife could be forced to write a letter to Pravda repudiating her husband, denouncing the U.S., and stating her wish to remain in the motherland. Some women who refused to sign statements renouncing their husbands were sent to labor camps. The wife of an American Foreign Service officer who had been forced to leave when his term was up went out for a walk one day, and was never heard from again" (12-13).

The law was rescinded following Uncle Joe's death in 1953.

As for the US, we've prohibited mixed-marriages, and we continue to outlaw same-sex marriages. But could we ever keep liberal from marrying conservative? Considering Senator Rick Santorum 's views on personal privacy, and his recent comments about liberalism leading to the sex scandal in the Catholic Church, I wouldn't rule anything out, even the absurd. Consider what the senator recently told the Associated Press:

SANTORUM: I have nothing, absolutely nothing against anyone who's homosexual. If that's their orientation, then I accept that. And I have no problem with someone who has other orientations. The question is, do you act upon those orientations? So it's not the person, it's the person's actions. And you have to separate the person from their actions.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?

SANTORUM: ... If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold — Griswold was the contraceptive case — and abortion. And now we're just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you — this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it's my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that's antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, whether it's sodomy, all of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.

Now consider this excerpt from editor Adele Marie Baker's Consuming Russia: Popular Culture, Sex and Society Since Gorbachev:

From the time Lenin declared the private life dead shortly after the revolution, people's attempts to garner some sort of personal privacy have been fraught with emotional ambiguity and even political risk ... Further, the party under Stalin exerted every effort to make the public and the private virtually indistinguishable. Under Stalin, for example, motherhood became a public act, and countless faces of mother-heroines beamed out from the cover of magazines such as Ogonek, Krest'ianka, and Sovetskaia zhenshchina, exhorting Soviet women to produce more Soviet citizens (read 'sons') for the motherland (33).

Okay, so who are the Communists again? I keep forgetting. Because if you listen to Santorum (who goes on to talk about man-on-dog sex in his AP interview) and his fellow Lapel Flags (as di rigeur as yesterday's arm band), it's okay to demonize Lenin and the Reds one minute -- to say they took away all the freedoms we hold so dear -- and then turn around the next and do the same thing, merge the public with the private, so long as you do it under the banner of Family Values and not while hoisting the red flag of the hammer and sickle.

It's just one more example of how the neoconservatives have borrowed from the Bolsheviks and hijacked the Republican Party. Let corporate consolidation continue unchecked, and you'll have the sort of central planning and media control the Politburo once achieved. Wal-mart, which grows by the day and already accounts for more than 2.5 percent of the Gross National Product, will produce our Mao Jacket, while the last two mega-media companies left standing at the end of the ongoing merger frenzy will give us plenty of choice at the record store and multi-plex (Britney or Cristina? Bewitched or The Dukes of Hazzard?) while publishing the city's one remaining newspaper to feed stories to a TV station in the same town, thereby ensuring that the truth goes reported, and then reported again, until it can only be true because I read it here and saw it there and heard it just now on the radio. Because yes, there will be radio, hundreds of stations, thousands in fact, a multitude of choice, a dialful of freedom, though sadly all this will be programmed about a thousand miles away from those pesky little disasters local listeners need to hear about. To top it all off, these stations will express their free speech over our public airwaves by blacklisting artists that speak out against the President, while promoting war over peace.

What do you say they call them? The Red States? Well, of course. Why would would Clear Channel and the RNC fly a flag of any other color?