The Legacy of the Disappearing Man

The relatively brief rise and fall of the Soviet Union (1922-1991) is a bountiful treasure trove of ghoulish and terrifying stories clearly demonstrating the dangers of perverse political theories and the societies that result from them. Undoubtedly, the worst of the worst of these stories originated during the Great Purges under Stalin.

Perhaps the most socially common of these is the story surrounding a photograph of Joseph Stalin, the brutal dictator of the Soviet Union, and Nikolai Yehzov, the leader of the secret police. Let’s start with the basic facts here. In no way was Nikolai a sympathetic character. Stalin chose Nikolai to lead the state secret police, because Nikolai was as much a sociopath as Stalin ever was.

Thousands of men and women were “disappeared” under Nikolai’s watch, dragged out of their homes by Soviet NKVD agents, dragged into the interrogation rooms in the basement of the secret police headquarters, tortured, and then shot in the head, never to be seen or heard from again by their friends and family. Tens of thousands of Russians were also sent to die in the work camps in Siberia by Nikolai’s orders.

Nikolai ruthlessly and efficiently removed anyone who could even be remotely considered politically dangerous to Stalin, and he did so with zeal. When his turn to take a bullet in the head inevitably came on a cold Sunday, February 4th, 1940, he died begging for his life while proclaiming his personal loyalty to Stalin. Nikolai deserved much worse than what he got, and he had it coming long before he got it.

It’s not his death, however, that is interesting or relevant, but the year leading up to it and the aftermath of his fall from favor. See, Nikolai had been in one office or another under Stalin from 1935 until 1939, and four years is plenty of times to have been seen with Stalin in public many times. Perhaps most famous of these appearances is a photo of him during a state inspection of a canal in Moscow.

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In the photo, at least prior to his downfall, Nikolai Yehzov can be seen wearing a smug, confident smile, clasping his hands behind his back with Joseph Stalin at his side as the two of them walk along the water’s edge with other ranking officials. At some point after Nikolai’s “retirement“, another photo of Stalin’s visit to the canal is circulated, replacing the earlier photo, but, in this photo, Nikolai is nowhere to be found.

Which brings us to the state of affairs as we find them today, living in the shadow of a thin skinned, pauper despot, whose worst governing impulses remain fortunately hemmed in by a society and government split along partisan fractures. It isn’t from a lack of trying. Trump’s relationship with objective reality has always resembled an absurdist comedy sketch of ridiculous claims and adolescent boasting.

Just for example, take Trump’s evolving relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. In 2002, before Epstein’s conviction on charges of child molestation, rape, and human trafficking, Donald Trump said in an interview with New York Magazine, “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” Fast forward to July 9th, 2019, when asked about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, recently arrested on additional charges of child molestation, rape, and human trafficking of underaged girls, Trump denied ever being Epstein’s friend, his exact words being “I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you.

Given the depravity of Epstein’s actions, Trump’s total rearranging of history is almost understandable. For the moment, we can’t know for a fact whether or not Trump was involved in Epstein’s degenerate crimes (at least not yet), so let’s turn our attention to another of Trump’s ridiculous lies. A lie less extreme in its villainy but one that more than makes up for it in its scope.

The very first lie that Donald Trump told in office was that his was the largest inauguration crowd in the history of the United States. It wasn’t even remotely the largest. Not by a long shot. This, however, didn’t stop Trump from ordering his press secretary to go before the American people and try to defend the lie, not that it would be the last time he would try to defend some ludicrous claim made by his demented boss.

A view of the National Mall during Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009 and for Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017. Photos by Reuters and Pool Camera. Image has been updated to include time taken.

Look at the photos (taken in a time series from the top of the Washington Monument), and it is obvious to anyone that cares to see for themselves that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration wasn’t even half the size of Obama’s inauguration in 2009, which is recognized as the largest inauguration crowd ever in the National Mall. However, to this day, Trump’s goonish supporters still actually believe Trump’s claim to be true.

Some claim the photos were doctored by “the media” to make the crowd look smaller, despite all other photos and video of the inauguration, including those taken by right wing outlets showing the same crowd sizes. Others claim the photos were taken at different times, despite the time stamps being obvious on the photos. There is always some dodge or nefarious conspiracy that undermines the evidence. At the end of the day, these gullible dopes believe that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest in history, because Trump said so.

But what about Fox News, the bastion of “fair and balanced” reporting on the right? In the interest of truth, wouldn’t Fox have set things straight? Unfortunately not. Fox News is the worst offender by volume, categorically twisting “truth” into whatever fiction the Republican Party needs it to be to keep their aging viewers in lock step with the party agenda, despite once having one of the best hard news divisions in the industry.

Since Trump took office, “Faux News” is little better than a checkout line tabloid, peddling insane conspiracy theories worthy of the poisoned mind of Alex Jones, and their coverage has devolved into a contorted cyclone of continuous spin to the point that truth is unrecognizable. They have purposefully blurred the lines between journalism and editorial entertainment purely to keep the useful idiots that consume their programming voting for Republicans every election cycle.

The truth, once the useful weapon against the worst excesses of the Obama administration’s cronyism and systematic corruption, where billions of dollars vanished into the pockets of Democratic donors and nepotistic causes, has become the Nikolai Yehzov of the current Republican regime. No longer useful to the corporatist statists pulling the strings and having their strings, in turn, pulled in this White House, truth has been airbrushed out of the American consciousness.

Worst of all, the corporate news apparatus knows their viewers are so feeble minded that even when they are inevitably caught out on an inconvenient fact, they can simply reverse their propaganda, and the vast majority of Fox News viewers will simply and eagerly accept the new version of events as though it was what they believed all along.

Stalin could only dream of having a country full of people so willing to revise their own memories for him. Where Stalin had to employ armies of professional censors to rewrite history as it happened, Trump’s supporters will censor reality for him, and they will do it gladly. America deserves what’s coming after Trump.


Liberty is For The Win!

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