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Love/Hate Relationships with America

Reader comment on item: The Western Mind of Radical Islam

Submitted by elmer swenson (United States), Apr 13, 2006 at 14:38

How can you be fascinated and (seemingly) almost in love with America, but eager to destroy it? I don't know, but it's eerily reminiscent of a story from an acclaimed book of 20+ years ago.

In 1978 a Russian-speaking Harvard graduate by the name of Andrea Lee spent 10 months in Russia, meeting and talking to students, intellectuals, average schlubs.

One of them was a 20-year-old Komsomol (Young Communist) member "so highly respected" by Komsomol he led "his own study group." Yet like the Islamists Pipes describes, Tolya, is "an aficionado of things American." He collected American jeans, rock music, aftershave, mouthwash, etc, and when "there is no Komsomol meeting that day," dresses "American style," i.e. all in denim.

Which is in theory pretty strange for a Young Communist not only because America is Russia's number one enemy, but because the products Tolya craves and buys can only be gotten in Russia by violating a basic principle of Communism, of his country's economy, i.e. by buying them on the black market.

But Tolya is no cynic, and he doesn't wish his motherland could be like America.

While visiting a Czarist era-palace he stuns the author by launching into a prediction that the Soviet Union will attack China to prevent it from developing nuclear arms and then fight and defeat the U.S. "`There will be war. Inevitably. In the next decade. ... but we believe we can win,`" Tolya explains.

"`What you Americans don't realize is that we'll win because we're not afraid to sacrifice everything for winning. We lost 20 million people in the Second World War, but we beat the Germans. And that spirit of sacrifice still exists -- the government has made sure to keep it alive in all of us. Mention the war, and people still weep and shake their fists. They grieve, but
they're ready to do it again. We are ready too, in our economic life. Everything -- everything goes into the military. That's why life is so bad here.`

`And so you will win.`

`Yes, we will win, because, if you don't mind my saying so, America is decadent. I'm not saying this because I've been taught to; I'm speaking from my own perceptions. Your dollar is low, your reputation is low, you don't seem to believe in anything any more. You're soft. And so we'll win, and I think it's very sad, because you have such a wonderful culture."

".... `I'm so, so sorry,` he said earnestly `I didn't mean to offend you. But I do believe that what I say is true. For me, Americans are like these people. He gestured at the [czarist] exhibit. `They cast a spell -- oh a wonderful spell -- and they must inevitably die out.`" (From Russian Journal by Andrea Lee. Vintage Books 1984. p.160-2)

13 years later the Soviet the Congress of People's Deputies voted to dissolve the Soviet Union.
Submitting....

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