The tortures included laying a man naked on a freezing cement floor, forcing his legs apart, and then an interrogator stepping on his testicles, applying increasing pressure until the confession surfaced. Imagine the consequences of no surfacing confession. Indeed, many people refused to confess to a crime they did not commit.
Daughters and sons were raped in front of their fathers and mothers — for the sake of extracting “confessions.”
These are just some of the delicacies that the Stalinist machinery inflicted on its citizenry in the hope of bringing socialism into earthly incarnation. Alexander Solzhenitsyn has shared much of this horror with us in his Gulag Archipelago — a work, mystifyingly enough, that I had never heard mentioned, except with a few exceptions, by one professor in a lecture or seminar in my entire eleven years studying Cold War history in academia. It was a work that I never saw, again with a few exceptions, on any academic syllabus — and many of my courses concerned Soviet history and American foreign policy toward the Soviet Union.
Both of my grandfathers were exterminated by Stalinist terror. Both of my parents, Yuri and Marina Glazov, were dissidents in the former Soviet Union. They risked their lives for freedom; they stood up against Soviet totalitarianism. They barely escaped the gulag, a fortune many of our friends and relatives did not share. I come from a system where a myriad of the closest people to my family simply disappeared, where relatives and family friends died under interrogation and torture for their beliefs — or for simply nothing at all.
Now try to imagine me sitting in the company of left-wing “intellectuals” in the West who think they are oppressed. This is my lifelong experience. I remember one radical feminist, whom I sat next to in a graduate student lounge, lecturing me sternly about how women in the West are oppressed because they wear bikinis on beaches; with a reprimanding tone, she explained to me that this represented the way capitalism objectifies women, marginalizes them from spheres of power, and metaphorically decapitates them as human beings. I remember asking her what she thought of female genital mutilation and honor killings in the Muslim world. To this I received a stone-cold silence and a frightening hateful stare, a stare with which I have become accustomed: I would be confined to a gulag or a psychiatric hospital if this particular individual had the power to place me there. This would be done for the good of society of course. My question was heresy: she could not, naturally, admit that evil adversarial cultures and ideologies existed — under which women truly suffer real oppression — for if she did, then she would have to sacrifice her entire worldview and personal identity.
Another colleague of mine, with great moral indignation and personal angst, once complained to me about how we are being “attacked” by Pepsi commercials. “By trying to tell us that we are not cool if we don’t drink Pepsi,” he agonized, “the capitalist machinery practices the politics of exclusion. By trying to pretend it offers us choice, it actually negates choice.”
My mom’s father was executed by the Soviet secret police. He did not have the luxury of being oppressed by Pepsi commercials.
My family’s nightmarish experience in the Soviet Union was followed by a providential escape from totalitarian hell. We were among the lucky ones, the ones who got away. The United States gave us a safe and protected home — a home of unbelievable material well-being (in comparison to Soviet starvation) and human liberty. I will never forget the awe I felt experiencing my first taste of freedom, even as a young five-year-old boy who wasn’t completely sure what it was. My parents could now, for the first time, speak out without fear of brutal repercussions in defense of Soviet citizens who were being persecuted for their political and/or religious beliefs. For the first time, we lived without the dread to which I had been accustomed throughout my young life.
I remember while we were cherishing our newfound freedom, we encountered a strange species: intellectuals in the universities who reviled my parents for the story they had to tell. For the first time in their lives, my father and mother confronted an intelligentsia that was hostile to them. Back in Russia, dissident intellectuals risked their lives when they pronounced one word of truth about the horrible history (and reality) of their country under communist rule. In America, most of the intellectuals who surrounded us scoffed at the importance of real intellectual freedom and dismissed my parents’ experience; they demonized their own society, wished for its defeat, and supported the communist enemy that muzzled free speech and tortured millions of human beings.
As a very young boy, I learned that these intellectuals were “leftists.” I remember witnessing how they tried to prevent my parents from drawing attention to communism’s mass crimes and to the brave souls who were fighting for freedom — people like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Bukovsky, Andrei Sakharov, Anatoly Sharansky, Larisa Borogaz, Aleksandr Ginzburg, and many others. While my family agonized about the relatives and friends we had left behind, and as we kept the memory of their suffering alive in our hearts, our leftist acquaintances reprimanded us for our views, instructing us to see America — our personal liberator — as the most evil entity not only in the Cold War, but in all of human history. They wanted us to dedicate our lives — as they had done — to the victory of the West’s totalitarian adversaries.
But ooh la la — today we have a best friend in the West who has our back. We aren’t orphans anymore. There is a certain individual in this land, by the name of Glenn Beck, who has a television show on the Fox News Channel with a mass following; he is masterfully exposing this phenomenon that we experienced — and are still experiencing. He is telling the truth about the Soviet regime and about communism and he is beaming a light on leftists and liberals for their long romance, which continues till this day, with communist systems and the ideologies that brought them into place. Just recently, Beck’s program featured his profound documentary, The Revolutionary Holocaust, which powerfully illustrates the evil of communism and the leftist ideals that brought its horrors into existence. Beck’s documentary exposes the crimes against humanity perpetrated by mass murderers such as Che Guevara and Mao Zedong, who, till this day, enjoy great idolization in leftist milieus and, as we know, in the Obama White House itself.
I would like to take this moment to express my deepest and heartfelt gratitude to Glenn Beck:
* * *
Mr. Beck, thank you for having the courage and integrity to tell the truth about communism, despite the price you have had to pay for doing so. It is because of people like you that the truth is being engraved into the historical record, which no one can erase. It is because of people like you that the human lives that were extinguished by the communist killing machine will mean something, will live on in humanity’s memory, and will touch human souls in their own mystical way.
Because of people like you, the millions of victims of communism will not be pushed into the invisible sphere of historical amnesia — where the liberal left has perpetually tried to confine them. Mr. Beck, by producing documentaries like your recent The Revolutionary Holocaust, you are bringing personal affirmation to myriads of families like my own — and to all victims and survivors of communism — by validating our experiences and by telling the whole world that, despite the left’s attempt to impose gulag denial on our culture, we did live what we lived, we did endure what we endured, and we did see what we saw. And you are crystallizing the pernicious socialist idea that comes in the form of humanitarianism, but culminates in mass terror.
Glenn Beck, you are leading the crucial fight of the 21st century. In battling on the front lines for moral clarity on the issue of communism, you are setting a firm terrain on which free men and women will be able to fight the new jihadi totalitarians who seek to destroy our freedom and lives.
Glenn Beck, you are a hero to me.