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Cultural Revolutions

Putin’s Valdai Speech

In the lands of “Real Socialism,” four or five decades ago, it was a standard practice to denounce the “enemies of the people” without actually quoting their incriminating statements.  I remember the final major press campaign against Milovan Djilas, when I was a preteen in Tito’s Yugoslavia.  It consisted of ritualistic slanders that asserted his sins, but no actual words from the man himself that prompted such a verdict.  Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov were subjected to similar treatment, some years later, in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union.

The American mainstream media are faithfully copying this practice today.  When Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a major foreign-policy address at a meeting of the Valdai Club in Sochi on October 24, the New York Times set the tone of the commentariat with its assessment that he “unleashed perhaps his strongest diatribe against the United States yet.”  Putin’s objective was “to sell Moscow’s view that American meddling has sparked most of the world’s recent crises,” including the claim that “the United States supports ‘dubious’ groups ranging from ‘open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.’”  (Shake your head in disbelief, Times reader, and roll your eyes.)  The Washington Post called the speech “a long anti-Western diatribe”...

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