This article originally appeared on May13, 2006 at americanchronicle.com
In the 1960s and early 70s we were taught that the USSR was our enemy. We were taught that their system of government was an evil system, one that was restrictive and callous of human rights. We were taught that the newspapers, TV and radio were all state controlled and so their people had no way of knowing the ?truth? about what was happening in the rest of the world. This is ironic since the name of the state newspaper is Pravda which is Russian for truth. We were also taught that the people had to watch what they said, that if they spoke out against the government they?d be thrown into a gulag.
In the old Soviet Union one could never tell who could be trusted and who was an agent of the government sent to spy on the people, or so we were told. The Soviets were even said to have tapped phone conversations and kept phone records in their hunt for dissidents. Of course, I took all this propaganda to heart. After all, I was only a little kid. I felt bad for the Russian people. We were taught this kind of thing could never happen in the United States of America where we had our freedoms to defend and our free press to keep an eye on those in power.
We were afraid of the Soviets back then. They were the monster lurking under the bed waiting to grab our ankles and pull us into oblivion. They had the bomb. They had the missiles to deliver atomic warheads. They hated us. They hated our freedoms, our thinking, and our way of doing things. They wanted nothing more than to totally dominate us, to completely control every aspect of our lives. That is what communism was all about. That is what we had to fear. That is what we had to defend ourselves against. Fortunately we never had to. In 1989 the Berlin wall came down. This signified the fall of communism. We had supposedly won the cold war. The USSR split up into several western style democracies. They have their problems, but so far we seem to be getting along with them.
Years earlier, a demented man named Hitler had taken control of the mighty country of Germany. He used a network of spies and brutality to keep control of his people. Spies were everywhere in prewar Germany, not just in the SS. Propaganda was everywhere too. Any dissent any German may have had against Hitler was effectively stamped out by this combination. He wanted nothing less than total world domination.
Hitler had a dream of a better world, a world cleansed by war, a war that would be won through superior technology, a war that would rid the world of a religion and a people he saw as evil and inferior. He isolated himself by antagonizing all that would not bow to the might and power of his superior race. In the end, he had only two countries he could call his ?friends? and the rest of the world aligned against him. He was something to be feared. He was something to defend ourselves against. Fortunately, he was defeated and he never saw his dream become a reality.
The Soviet Union and Germany were both police states. They were both dictatorships that had usurped the people?s representatives and the people?s will. They both encouraged their people to spy on each other. They both used intelligence agencies to spy on the populace. Perhaps that is why when I was growing up one of the worst things you could be was a snitch, a rat fink.
?Tattletale tit, your tongue has been slit, and all the little birds in town will get a piece of it,? the saying used to go.
At one time, we feared and hated Germany. At one time we feared and hated the Soviet Union. As a nation, we must be careful. We must not become what we fear. We must not become what we hate. We must not become the scary monster under the bed.