Ignore mass murder once


By Joseph Sobran

May 20, 1997

WASHINGTON The canonization of Franklin D. Roosevelt has inspired a partial demurral from the columnist Sidney Zion of the New York Daily News.  Mr. Zion generally admires FDR, but charges him with indifference to "the extermination of the Jews of Europe" during World War II. Mr. Zion cites Edmund Burke's famous aphorism: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

"FDR did next to nothing to stop the massacre of the Six Million, a fact that has been established by historical documentation running back at least 20 years," he comments.  "If ever there was a 'good man,' it was Roosevelt, and if ever evil triumphed, it was the Holocaust."

But Mr. Zion, like so many other FDR admirers, sees no moral connection between Roosevelt's friendship for the Soviet Union and his indifference to the Holocaust.  Soon after taking office in 1933, Roosevelt extended diplomatic recognition and international legitimacy to a regime that had already committed mass murder on a scale Hitler himself would never match.

Soviet communism eventually killed tens of millions of people nearly 62 million, according to Professor R.J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii, a specialist in the study of "democide" (his term for government mass murder).  In 1933 its record was already so bloody that Central Europe was terrified of the communist threat that so many Westerner intellectuals preferred to see as the Great Progressive Hope.

At the time Roosevelt established diplomatic relations with them, the Soviets were in the process of starving millions of Ukrainians into submission.  This atrocity was genteelly called an "agricultural policy," but it was widely reported in the West.  Certainly no government could claim not to have known about it.

The communist-forced famine of Ukraine is sometimes called "the Forgotten Holocaust."  A better name would be the Forgiven Holocaust.

Anyone who had provided as much aid and comfort to Hitler as Roosevelt gave Stalin would now be in total disgrace.  Even those who opposed war with Hitler are tainted today.  But we venerate the man who gave the murderous Stalin crucial acceptance, material aid and a benign image as "Uncle Joe."

In those same years, Walter Duranty of The New York Times wrote consciously false reports that no Ukrainian famine was occurring.  This was like reporting from Germany that the Jews were being well treated by the Third Reich.  For his mendacious service to Stalin, Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 1934.  It has never been revoked.  (The Times still proudly lists Duranty among its many Pulitzer winners.)

Roosevelt's ambassador to the Soviet Union during the 1930s, Joseph Davies, became a great enthusiast of Stalin.  His memoir "Mission to Moscow" glorified the Soviet regime and even defended the purges and show trials of the period.  Roosevelt prevailed upon Warner Brothers to turn the book into a major motion picture (starring the great Walter Huston as Davies), in which Stalin was shown as a gentle, grandfatherly figure who had only the welfare of the Russian people at heart.

If Roosevelt and the entire American establishment could ignore mass murder once, is it so surprising that they could ignore it again a few years later?

The truth is that much of the American establishment still refuses to confront communist crimes against humanity and ridicules anti-communism as an overwrought "right-wing" reaction.  We are reminded daily, in memorials, in movies, and in everyday rhetoric, of Hitler's Holocaust; communism's several holocausts don't rate commemoration, and those who abetted them don't rate condemnation.

The Nazi exterminations have become the very measure of evil.  The communist exterminations would seem to belong to the same moral universe, but they are treated in a radically different way.  Those who supported Stalin are excused, as long as they opposed Hitler; in fact they are regarded as morally superior to "isolationists" who wanted nothing to do with either of these great dictators.

Orignally published online by Universal Press Syndicate at
www.uexpress.com/ups/opinion/column/js/archive/js970520.html, but no longer available at that location