My Grandpa Was Imprisoned In A Gulag. Stop Comparing Trump to Stalin.

Outgoing Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s. He’s very wrong

It was revealed that outgoing Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is set to deliver a speech comparing President Trump to Soviet butcher Joseph Stalin. Today, that speech — and accompanying video — came out.

Here’s a portion of the video in question:

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Sen. Flake: “It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies.”

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He says, “It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies.”

On Monday, the Arizona senator tweeted: “There is no comparison between POTUS & Stalin. Stalin was a maniacal killer. The point I will try to make in my speech is POTUS should not use a phrase so associated with Stalin like “enemy of the people” to describe our free press.”

Does the senator understand suggesting Trump’s rhetoric mirrors that of Joseph Stalin implies he’s making the comparison between the two?

What Senator Flake fails to understand about Stalin, among his many brutal policies, was that he weaponized the press—namely Pravda—to advance his agenda. Even Washington Post noted this:

Stalin used the press, unburdened by facts, to create an enclosed atmosphere where paranoid fantasy had to be accepted as reality. He gaslighted his victims, and an entire nation, besides. There was seemingly no way out. (Pravda means truth in Russian, and the name of the other Soviet leading paper, Izvestia, means news; as the old joke had it, there was no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia.)

Trump doesn’t have a cozy relationship with the press nor does he manipulate them in a state-run fashion as Stalin did. Neither does he imprison, torture, or kill his political opponents like Stalin did. You may not like his governing style or brazen use of Twitter, but Trump’s no Stalin. Not in the slightest. Stop with this nonsense once and for all.

Most rational people—even those critical of Trump’s policies—find this comparison in poor taste and insulting to the memories of those oppressed and killed by Stalin. I’m one of those people. My maternal grandpa survived 18 months in one of Stalin’s gulags on the Russian-Finnish border. He was timid and scarred for life until his death in 1999 because of the torture he endured in that wretched place. Flake insults the memories of victims and survivors like my grandpa by insinuating Trump is like Stalin. Shame on you, Senator.

You know who mirrors Joseph Stalin today? North Korean bully Kim Jun Un, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, and Russian oligarch President Vladimir Putin, who routinely glorifies Stalin’s memory. Get your priorities straight, Senator Flake.

Trump Derangement Syndrome has debilitating consequences, and even those who constructively criticize Trump have had enough of the illusory comparisons. Let’s get back to serious dialogue and not political grandstanding, please.

Bolshevik Revolution Centennial: Deadly Legacy 100 Years Later

Today marks a dark moment in history: the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution that metastasized in Soviet Russia.

From Lenin, this movement empowered Joseph Stalin, Mao Zhedong, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, and countless other dictators across the globe to order their henchmen—or they personally—to carry out policies on torture, starvation, collectivization, confiscation of private property, and outlawing religion.

Since 1917, over 100 million have died at the hands of socialism in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. The late historian RJ Rummel estimated a high of 148 million murdered as a result of the tyrannical regimes Bolshevik Revolution spawned.  But that doesn’t bother most academics, media elites, and historians. To them, Soviet communism is misinterpreted or was, gasp, poorly executed! Look at “Red Century” columns published at the New York Times over the last year. Many of the articles, which were absolutely ridiculous in nature, affirmed  the spirit of Walter Duranty (their famed propagandist and Stalin apologist) lives on.

We hear these people clamor and say, “Well if we had another chance to retry it, it won’t turn out like this!” Oh really? Bless their hearts.

This centennial perhaps is personal for me because my family, especially my grandparents, suffered at the hands of Stalinist policies born out of this bloody movement.

It was Stalin’s gulag system that broke my grandpa’s spirit when he was imprisoned at the Belomor Canal on the Finnish-Russian border for eighteen months. By some act of God, really, he survived. Surviving this barren tundra, built on the bones of prisoners, was virtually impossible. Due to my grandpa being able-bodied from farm work all his life, he miraculously survived. Many of his fellow prisoners weren’t so lucky—ultimately succumbing to the deadly effects of life in a gulag.

My parents grew up in post-Stalinist Soviet-occupied Lithuania, but similarly encountered limited opportunities due to this movement deep-rooted infection in their homeland. While the death camps slowly disappeared, many oppressive policies were still in tact after Stalin died. Racism was rampant, opportunities were limited, kids snitched on their parents, and food was heavily rationed, for example. This was the reality of life in the Soviet Union—not some rosy fairy tale we hear from many on the Left.

These horror stories aren’t isolated to countries previously (and illegally) occupied by the former Soviet Union. Look at the blood that was shed in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. So many families were wrecked by this movement and not a peep or sympathy from scholars, academics, celebrities, and supposed reporters.

The White House issued its first-ever National Day for the Victims of Communism honor those who were oppressed by communism. Below is the statement:

Today, the National Day for the Victims of Communism, marks 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia. The Bolshevik Revolution gave rise to the Soviet Union and its dark decades of oppressive communism, a political philosophy incompatible with liberty, prosperity, and the dignity of human life.

Over the past century, communist totalitarian regimes around the world have killed more than 100 million people and subjected countless more to exploitation, violence, and untold devastation. These movements, under the false pretense of liberation, systematically robbed innocent people of their God-given rights of free worship, freedom of association, and countless other rights we hold sacrosanct. Citizens yearning for freedom were subjugated by the state through the use of coercion, violence, and fear.

Today, we remember those who have died and all who continue to suffer under communism. In their memory and in honor of the indomitable spirit of those who have fought courageously to spread freedom and opportunity around the world, our Nation reaffirms its steadfast resolve to shine the light of liberty for all who yearn for a brighter, freer future.

Bolshevism in 1917 gave rise to global communism. It’s time this horrible movement in history be rejected and its effects be condemned like its ugly cousin, National Socialism. Please take this week to honor the victims of communism and honor their memories.


*Updated article to include White House declaration honoring victims of communism.

This is the Real Russia Story You Should Care About

While everyone is losing their marbles over unfounded Russian collusion claims here in the U.S., this story out of Russia actually is quite troubling.

Meet 61-year-old gulag grave researcher and Soviet crime truth teller Yury Dmitriyev. Dmitriyev is a member of Russia’s oldest human rights group, Memorial, that has tirelessly worked to expose Soviet repression of deaths behind the Iron Curtain last century. Here’s more on the group:

The Human Rights Center’s mission is to promote general respect and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms both in the Russian Federation and in other states.
The HRC “Memorial” sets the following aims and tasks: observing of human rights and fundamental freedoms execution; giving publicising and giving reliable information about considerable violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms; attracting the attention of public governmental and international institutions to these kind of violations; conducting and supporting of research aimed at the study of serious human rights violations; assisting with observance of humanitarian law and the peaceful resolution of conflicts under the conditions of military conflicts; assistance with the adoption by power holding structures of legal acts correspondent to international rules in the domain of human rights observance; theoretical and practical enlightenment of human rights and humanitarian law.

Dmitriyev was arrested in December 2016 on account of three alleged crimes: child pornography, child endangerment, and illegal possession of a firearm–unfounded charges being hurled at him for exposing Soviet crimes the Kremlin still denies today. If convicted, he faces 15 years in jail.

He and his wife adopted a young girl, then age 3, and documented her progress from malnourished to healthy. Per Guardian, experts have assessed the photos and found nothing contentious about them. Dmitriyev himself was adopted as a child. As for the firearm, Dmitriyev’s supporters are confident that his crime of “owning parts of a non-working hunting rifle” is a stretch too far. As of this writing, over 31,000 people signed a petition calling for the patently false charges against him to be dropped.

“For our government to become … accountable, we need to educate the people,” Dmitriyev said to The Guardian.

Prior to Dmitriyev’s arrest, members of his group Memorial were labeled “foreign agents” by the Kremlin. Here’s more about Dmitriyev’s work to uncover the truth about the victims of Stalin’s crimes:

Using detailed documents uncovered in KGB archives, Dmitriev was able to piece together the location where Stalin’s execution squads killed and buried more than 9,500 people from 1937 to 1938. The documents contained the dates and names of those killed, as well as the executioners’ names. During the next two decades, Dmitriev worked meticulously to document every victim’s story.

Today, Sandarmokh, as the site became known, is a memorial to the people of more than 60 nationalities buried here, including those from Norway, Finland, Poland, Ukraine and Russia.

Interestingly enough, Dmitriyev’s work has included uncovering more about the White Sea gulag, or Belomor Canal gulag, where my maternal grandpa was imprisoned for 18 months:

Located near the Solovetsky islands, the birthplace of the gulag, the Karelia region in north-west Russia is where tens of thousands of prisoners were shot or died digging the infamous White Sea canal for Stalin’s first five-year plan. As an aide to a regional official, Dmitriyev first began searching for their graves after being summoned to deal with remains uncovered by an excavator at a military base in 1988.

Soon he began trying to identify victims of the mass executions, which were carried out covertly. During the brief period when secret police archives were opened up in the 1990s, Dmitriyev managed to read thousands of execution orders into his tape recorder. He could then try to match each group of skeletons he found to a specific order.

If I had the opportunity to meet this gentleman, I would happily thank him for attempting to bring justice to the victims of Stalin’s crimes. This stuff — the silencing of dissidents, the imprisonment of those who challenge revisionist history, or persecution of those who wish to reform Russia — is what the American press should be up in arms about. Where were they when Putin assumed office in 2000? (Most likely excusing his actions.) They should start caring about combating revisionist history in that nation, not instigating war with a tyrant like Putin by delegitimizing Trump’s election. Like Trump or not, you’re stuck with him. Deal with it.

For those unaware about modern-day Russia, there is a resurgence of Neo-Sovietism in the country being propped up by the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. (I wrote about this in great detail at Townhall several years ago.) In June, Stalin was rated the “most outstanding figure in world history” by the Levada Center with 38 percent–followed by current president Vladimir Putin at 34 percent. Approximately 1,600 people were polled. Also in June: Putin sat down in an interview with Oliver Stone and said that the “excessive demonization” of Stalin is a “means of attacking the Soviet Union and Russia.

If you’re only outraged about the Kremlin’s behavior since Election 2016, your concern is disingenuous at best–especially if you’ve excused Soviet crimes in the past. Challenging orthodoxy in that country–especially holding Russia’s government accountable for denying its past crimes against humanity under Soviet rule – is grounds for punishment, imprisonment, and yes, even death, in the modern day.

This is the real Russia story. Start covering it.

Let’s Get Real: May Day is Marx Day

As the New York Times absurdly celebrates communism in its op-ed published on April 30th, it is worth remembering that the May 1st “holiday” of May Day – also called International Workers Day – was itself originally promulgated by Marxists. Outlets like USA Today, NBC News, and others are happily touting the May Day protests that will be occurring across the United States as just another iteration of the anti-Trump demonstrations that have become so common, but history shows us the more sinister origins of the modern holiday. May Day was co-opted from an ancient European spring festival by the Second International, a global socialist & communist movement formed in Paris on July 14, 1889 that would pick the 1st of May as the date for an international holiday to advocate for socialist ideals. The International Workingmen’s Association, also called the First International (from which the Second International would directly spring), was founded in London on September 28, 1864 and would soon be led by none other than Karl Marx himself — author of the Communist Manifesto and intellectual forefather of the socialist & communist movements. It’s also worth noting that the Third International, also called the Communist International or Comintern, would be founded on March 2, 1919 and would be led Vladmir Lenin as he climbed to power within the new Soviet Union. The Comintern would advocate for the spread of worldwide communism and would only be dissolved in 1943 by Joseph Stalin himself as he consolidated his own grip on power in Soviet Union. A direct line runs from the First International & Karl Marx to the Second International & May Day to the Comintern & Lenin & Stalin.

May Day was generally celebrated with massive marches, demonstrations, & parades throughout communist countries like the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, & Cuba (and still is in some communist hangers-on). May Day Parades would be especially critical to the propaganda machine of the Soviet Union throughout its existence, giving a succession of Soviet dictators the chance to rally their people and showcase military hardware with massive parades consisting of soldiers, red flags, tanks, missiles, and gigantic banners of Lenin & Stalin paraded through the Red Square in Moscow. Examples of the Soviet May Day Parade can be seen here, here, and here. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the final Soviet May Day Parade would be held in 1991. But as Vladmir Putin consolidated his grip on power inside Russia and began invading his neighbors (like Ukraine), he decided to bring back the May Day Parade in 2014 for the very first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse (and it has now been held annually in 2015, 2016, & 2017 as well). Little wonder that Putin — the man who considered the fall of the Soviet Union the worst geopolitical disaster of the 20th century — would want to revive some old Soviet traditions. So now, a holiday started by a communist organization and celebrated by a communist nation has been revived by a strongman who misses the days of communism past. And this beloved communist ideal — originally sparked by Karl Marx, carried out by madmen like Stalin & Mao & Pol Pot, and missed dearly by lovely folks like Putin — is responsible for the deaths of one hundred million people.

As one fan of Marx put it in The Guardian on May Day in 2015:

“Every year, on May Day a spectre comes to haunt us. The spectre of Karl Marx. He’s been coming since 1889, when the Second International first chose 1 May as the date for International Workers’ Day. And although we understand that he’s the brains behind the show, we don’t like him hanging around. His presence makes us uncomfortable. He reminds us of difficult things. Over the years, we’ve done our best to exorcise him. Hitler buried him under the Day of National Work. Khrushchev engulfed him in elaborate parades. The Catholic church disguised him as Joseph, the patron saint of workers. Franco outlawed him altogether. Some countries appeased him with a public holiday; others, like Britain and Ireland, preferred to confuse him with the first Monday of the month. It’s time we faced up to the ghost: May Day is Marx Day, whether we like it or not.”

Indeed. The wide global acceptance of May Day has been triumphantly called “the only unquestionable dent made by a secular movement in the Christian or any other calendar.” So remember: at its core, May Day isn’t about May Poles — it’s about Marx. Might I suggest celebrating Loyalty Day instead?