âPoor Elijah’s Almanackâ is written by Peter Berger of Mount Holly, who has taught English and history for 30 years.
Leon Trotsky was a model revolutionary intellectual – wild eyes, wild hair, and metal-rimmed glasses. He was one of Lenin’s main lieutenants in the Civil War which overthrew the nascent democracy which itself overthrew the Tsar. Trotsky commanded the victorious Red Army, served the Communist government as foreign minister, and was widely regarded as Lenin’s anointed successor.
Unfortunately for Trotsky, Josef Stalin saw himself as Lenin’s successor. In the years following Lenin’s death, Trotsky was demoted, exiled, and ultimately murdered on Stalin’s orders by an assassin armed with an ice ax, which he thrust into Trotsky’s head while Trotsky was reading.
All this to say that Trotsky was a leading player in Soviet history and politics.
Don’t look for it, however, in the official photos. Long before Photoshop was a glimmer in Adobe’s eye, Stalin discovered the wonders of purging people from history by airbrushing them and cropping them from the historical record.
Here is a photograph of Trotsky on the steps as Lenin delivers a speech. Now you see it. And now the stages are empty.
Here he is in the center of a jubilant crowd, alongside Lenin after the revolution. And here’s an airbrushed blank space where Trotsky was.
Editing the story was not limited to photographs. Even the flattering words of Stalin himself disappeared from the record.
And it wasn’t just Trotsky.
Here is a group of six young socialists sitting alongside Lenin in 1897. And now here is the same group of five young socialists after Stalin had the missing man shot and stripped in 1930.
Here is Stalin walking along a canal with three party officials. The smiling commissar in charge of the purges is to Stalin’s left. And now here is Stalin with nothing to his left except the canal.
How about a Stalin grouping with three favorite comrades where the group decreases one by one until Stalin is alone? Or a large 1920 rally with Lenin that included so many âenemies of the peopleâ referred to by Stalin in the 1930s that the final cut left Lenin alone with author Maxim Gorky.
Photoshop has made it easier to deceptively manipulate current events and history. But in America today, Republicans have discovered that you don’t need to change the image people see. You just have to tell them they can’t see it.
These “law-abiding” Americans on January 6 appear to be kicking the police and beating them with pipes and masts.
These “peaceful patriots” do not really climb the walls of the Capitol. They didn’t set up a gallows. You don’t really hear them singing “Hang on Mike Pence” and “Stop Theft”. You don’t really see them burrowing into the senators’ offices or banging the door of the chamber of the House, or the riot gunned down by the police to defend the Congress as she is pushed by the crowd through the breach. .
January 6 was just a ânormal sightseeing tourâ.
No need for a special investigation, say Republicans, most of whom voted Jan.6 not to certify Joe Biden’s election, and who voted to purge Liz Cheney for daring to speak the truth, and who still cannot not invoke courage or virtue to say that Donald Trump’s “stolen election” lie is a lie.
A certain cultivation of reality by repeating Trump’s lies. Others airbrush the truth with their silence.
I could once again recite here all the audits and recounts, all the judgments and court rulings of Democrats and Republicans, none of which found electoral fraud. I could detail the reckless “auditing” farce that is now going mad in Arizona and threatening to infect other states. I could complain about the malignant tumors Gaetz and Greene spit out like self-satisfied toddlers who have discovered a new noise they can make with their bodies.
Or I could again recite the many words of leaders like McConnell and McCarthy, their outrage at Trump’s “savage lies”, ongoing “objectionable behavior” and “shameful dereliction of duty”, followed by their inevitable and unfathomable cover. and retreat at Trump’s first flush of discontent.
In his attempt to say nothing by saying everything, Chief McCarthy offered a truth worth remembering: Joe Biden is the “rightful president.” Any âcontinuing rhetoricâ to the contrary is ânot Americanâ. This would reasonably include Donald Trump’s latest non-American delusions about the âfraudulent presidential election of 2020â.
It should also be noted that McCarthy and McConnell have said that Trump “bears responsibility” for “the attack on Congress”, with McConnell declaring him “practically and morally responsible for bringing about the events of the day.”
Finally, the two Republican leaders acknowledged that the mob attack instigated by Trump was intended to “disrupt the constitutional accountability of Congress” by using force to “stop a specific activity they did not like”, namely certification of Biden’s election.
The use of “force to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States” is a key component of federal seditious conspiracy law.
We are all responsible for what we believe, what we say and what we do. But political leaders, and even minor chroniclers, should keep in mind what Jesus teaches about the millstones and those who mislead others.
In his February 13 anti-impeachment remarks, Chief McCarthy quotes Abraham Lincoln’s warning about mob rule. McCarthy should have read a paragraph later in Lincoln’s speech.
Mr. Lincoln anticipates the rise of an American leader whose âprimary objectâ is his own âdistinctionâ. If this man of “genius” and “ambition” fails to gain fame and power by “building”, he “will boldly set out to demolish”.
Mr. Lincoln advises that “when such a person” “arises among us,” “people will have to be united with one another, committed to government and the law, and generally intelligent, to be successful in thwarting his designs. “
Unfortunately, we are not currently any of these things – neither united, nor attached to government and laws, neither informed, nor inclined to heed reason and “sober judgment of the courts”, preferring instead to follow “savage passions and furious â.
Mr. Lincoln warned us that our danger would come from within.
We are the people and Trump is the man.
What makes matters worse is that too few of us can see how dangerous he and us have become.