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KENGOR: Stalin’s dupes, past and present
Gallery of the hoodwinked ranges from FDR to the D-Day Memorial
An amazed Earle responded: “Mr. President, I think this evidence is overwhelming.” It was.
Earle pressed the evidence, but FDR refused to believe him. Years later, Earle expressed his exasperation, saying he felt “hopeless.”
Katyn deserves the same infamy as words like “the Rape of Nanking” or “Auschwitz.” And yet, America’s president at the time got it wrong: FDR believed Stalin.
Would history get it right? Would Americans get it straight?
That brings me to that other news item from 2010, a more joyous one. The people of Poland got an early Christmas gift this year - and from an unlikely source: Moscow. There, the State Duma, Russia’s legislature, passed a statement conceding Soviet responsibility for the Katyn massacre.
That is splendid news, a news item from 2010 to add to the history books. It was something many of us who have studied and written about this incident have waited to hear. And it is too bad that Roosevelt is not around to hear it.
Frustration is a persistent feeling that pervades many of us educators and historians who study the horrors of 20th century communism, only to see those horrors get ignored repeatedly by our illustrious “scholars” in the academy - FDR hagiographers, chief among them - and by people who erect statues to Stalin on American soil. Stalin and his cronies duped our four-term president in the 1940s. Must we still be dupes today?
I think not. If Russia can apologize for the massacre ordered by “Uncle Joe” - FDR’s term of endearment for Stalin - then surely we can make amends for any historical misunderstandings on our part. Permanently removing statues to Stalin here in America would be a good start.
Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and the newly released “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”
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