Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Contrast In Courage

Over at the Progressive, Howard Zinn takes President Bush's falling poll numbers as his cue to lay out, once again, his view of America as no more than the sum of her misdeeds. Familiar stuff, oft-rebutted. "Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery," as our old pal Clayton Cramer once said.

Only reason I mention it is because it reminded me of an issue in The Progressive back in 1980, containing a review of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's samizdat proto-blog The Oak and the Calf. The review was fair enough. It granted him his courage at his long struggle with the Soviet juggernaut, and bristled at his lumping Western progressives in with his oppressors. But I had read the book, and the huge impression it had made on me made me think The Progressive was damning it with faint praise. Here was a man recording his adventures in composing, hiding and publishing the most explosive manuscripts ever written inside the Soviet Union, most notably The Gulag Archipelago. Discovery would mean instant incarceration, probably death. He wrote about his arrest after the first foreign publication of Gulag, when he did not know what would happen to him, and yet he turned this passage into a savagely witty comedy, with himself as the butt of it all. "Dolt! Where are your wolfish camp instincts?" It ended in Switzerland, IIRC, his first stop in his long exile. It was as rousing a tale of heroism as I'd ever read.

And in the back of the same issue was a closer by somebody named Milton Meyer, louding praising himself for his courage in flouting the new mandatory seat belt laws.

1 comment:

  1. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy reading your thoughts. Lol. Thanks for blogging. I wish I was as well read as you, I like to think I could be just as dangerous. Tee hee.

    Then agin, Ah'm jest tew humble tew RILLY thank thet. ;)


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