Tags: Stop! | Thief! | They | Stole | the | Ukrainian | Election!

Stop! Thief! They Stole the Ukrainian Election!

Friday, 03 December 2004 12:00 AM

Looking backward and outward upon the world just now, I, too, feel myself gripped by an unfamiliar feeling. Could it possibly be optimism?

At this moment we’re again looking at one of those situations where peaceful-but-angry crowds are massing belly to belly with the ones who have the guns.

Ukraine makes you want to hold your hands over your ears all day long.

Here’s an obviously corrupt government trying to pawn off an obviously losing candidate as a duly elected president, with an unsmiling Russia saying: “Clear the streets. Go home. Get used to it. The election was clean and just.” And Russia is the ONLY one saying anything of the kind.

The United States, the European Union, literally everybody else except Russia’s quiet puppet Belarus are insisting the election was stolen and are demanding better of a European nation of 48 million people presenting itself as a democracy.

As I write, the standoff has been going on for almost two weeks. A female comic in New York once got a pretty good laugh out of me by lamenting that a guy she liked hadn’t called for two weeks. “TWO WEEKS!” she shrieked from the stage. “Do you know how long that is in girl years?!”

No laughter here. Do you know how long two weeks is when the anger of the crowd collides with the steel of the state when the state is either a dictatorship or a rookie democracy like Ukraine, not even into its teens? Especially when Ukraine is being pressured by a vastly more powerful Russia that can’t shake the three-centuries-old habit of running Ukraine like its own Coney Island concession.

In October 1956, the crowds gathered in Budapest, Hungary, to demand greater freedom from their communist masters. They were fired upon, and in one jolting spasm, Hungary was free! Crowds of Hungarian students were riding around atop Soviet tanks, hugging the Russian troops and waving freedom banners.

Hungarian freedom lasted just long enough for the Soviet Union to rush in 2,000 more tanks and 200,000 new troops, mostly from central Asia. That force took 10 days to marshal. They slaughtered 35,000 Hungarians, and that was the end of the good mood and the good fellowship between the governing and the governed.

Why was it necessary for Moscow to bring those massive reinforcements from Asia? They wanted soldiers from too far away to have any familiarity with or sympathy for the Hungarians. The Soviet troops occupying Hungary when the Freedom Fight first broke out refused to fire upon the Hungarian crowds. Those troops were mostly Ukrainians!

We move on to Tienanmen Square in Beijing in 1989. Students giddy with the prospect of freedom camped out, shouted the lyrics of freedom, and even somehow built a huge model of the Statue of Liberty.

Sourpuss scientists tell us red flags will not turn a bull into a raging bull. The color red, they say, means nothing to a bull. It’s the waving that does it.

Alas, American symbols of liberty jammed between the eyeballs of a communist state by its own students do indeed have that rage-provoking effect. To this day we have no idea how many thousands of Chinese students were massacred alongside and under Chinese tanks.

In Ukraine, however, the action is frozen. As one who hoped the Hungarian and Chinese freedom lovers would survive and had to watch that hope not only dashed but also made naive and ridiculous, my hopes and prayers still live in Kiev and across Ukraine.

Optimism of this octane needs a warning label, so please bail out here if the childish ravings of a smiling fool disgust you.

The world has quietly put aside some awful habits. They no longer throw virgins into volcanos in the South Sea islands. They no longer have animal sacrifices on the altar of the temple. Black Americans no longer head for the back of the bus, unless they like the extra legroom.

Is it too much to ask that an embattled regime today somehow feels the restraining bonds of some creeping civilization that eluded the butchers of Budapest and Tienanmen Square? Could it be that the days of violent repression of crowds in the square by tyrants with plenty of ammunition but no more patience have come to an end?

Don’t forget: The Soviet Union survived over 40 years after brutally putting down the Hungarians. Communist China was treated to a normal visit by America’s Brent Scowcroft with cocktail glasses held high and clinked together a disgustingly short time after the Tienanmen massacre. So, what kind of fear is it that has protected the Ukrainian civilians so far?

Is it the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, or the moral mixture of all three that stays the command to “Open Fire!”

My guess, hence this marvelously unfamiliar feeling of optimism, is we’re living in a marvelous moment.

I don’t know when the first South Sea virgin was spared being tossed into the volcano, but there obviously was such a time and I’m sure SHE knew it. How about the animal sacrifices that to this day wrench the sensitivities of Jewish congregations more attuned to animal rights than ancient rituals?

Rabbis frequently feel called upon to explain that “Religions grow, just like individuals do. And we have grown beyond those practices of ancient days.”

That all happened quite some time before my Bar Mitzva, but I was there - gloriously and victoriously THERE - when my generation of young whites drove the dogwood stake through the heart of Jim Crow in the American South.

I feel that the brutal days of Budapests and Beijings are done. (Will we live to see that in the case of Islamofascist beheadings?)

You can’t chase me off this optimistic pedestal the way Italian opera fans get rid of annoying singers by throwing rotten tomatoes. The only way I can be removed is by catastrophic headlines of widespread carnival being replaced with widespread carnage in Ukraine.

I shall tiptoe to the TV before submitting this column to make sure the freeze endures.

Meanwhile, I remind myself of my own Grandma Marcus watching her first football game. “Look, Grandma!” I shouted. “Carolina just scored another touchdown!”

Grandma was a Russian-Jewish immigrant with no knowledge of football or any other sport. “I’m glad you’re happy,” said she. “As for me, I just want that nobody should get hurt.”

I’m not quite as detached as Grandma. Obviously I’d prefer the west-leaning Victor Yushchenko to emerge victorious over the Moscow-leaning Victor Yanukovich.

But, like Grandma, mostly I don’t want that anybody should get hurt!


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Looking backward and outward upon the world just now, I, too, feel myself gripped by an unfamiliar feeling.Could it possibly be optimism? At this moment we're again looking at one of those situations where peaceful-but-angry crowds are massing belly to belly with the ones...
Friday, 03 December 2004 12:00 AM
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