Obama’s economic policies will transform us into a Latter-Day Soviet Union.
This poster says it all.
Hammer and sickle squeeze out stars and stripes. Uncle Joe (Biden?) lurks in the background.
The prospect horrifies, even though more and more of us have no memory of the Soviet Union. Still, we are afraid of an amorphous red menace.
We may be right.
But, there was more to Soviet Russia than lousy universal health care.
There was also a lousy official culture.
That culture began with an unswerving devotion to the mythology of the origin of the state.
Here, for instance, is Lenin at the Finland Station. We see him upon his return from exile in 1917, greeted by crowds singing the Marseillaise. There is a solidity, an inevitability to him and the revolution. With outstretched arm, he declares: “Long live the worldwide Socialist Revolution!”
“This is the Place!”
This image produces discomfort; the discomfort is my Russian immigrant husband’s birthright and I have perversely adopted it.
When we moved, sight unseen, to Salt Lake City in the mid-1990s, we were greeted by a strangely familiar Brigham Young, no less solid and no less inevitable than Vladimir Ilyich. He, too, towers above us, arm outstretched.
Perhaps, after all, this is the place.
Did you notice, a local whispers to us, that Brigham Young stands with his back to the Mormon Temple and he gestures toward the bank. Wink.
Now we feel comfortable. There is a dissident movement here, too, and we, before even uttering the password, have been inducted into it.
Next stop, the liquor store for more fringe camaraderie.
During our seven years in Utah, we encountered, for the first time, that “if you’re not behind us, get in front of us” variety of American patriotism that we had previously thought was peculiar to the Soviet Union. No room for equivocation; no room for discussion. There is a right way and a wrong way, in religion and in politics.
And there is a right way in art, a kind of Mormon Realism, I suppose:
“We’ve decided,” said our Salt Lake neighbor, “that any movie that is inappropriate for our children, is inappropriate for us, too.”
Only wholesome, uplifting messages, please. Chaste love stories; artistic renderings that affirm the goodness of our leaders:
I hasten to add that I admire and feel affection for many aspects of Mormon life, as I got to know it while I lived in Utah. At home, we joked that it was like living in a foreign country without the benefit of a language barrier; but that was friendly kidding.
Still, those years in Zion were our first inkling that the danger of cultural Sovietization of America may come not from the left, but from the religious right.