Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Singing Revolution

Mari-Ann Kelam writes from Tallinn, Estonia:

Especially in light of articles such as “The Horrors of Red T-shirt” below, I appeal to you again to help ensure that the film “SINGING REVOLUTION” gets the widest possible audience and recognition. The film is about Estonia’s recent history primarily as Estonians living in Estonia experienced it – invasions, occupation by foreign totalitarian regimes and how the small Baltic nation peacefully restored its democracy and independence. The film is exceptionally well done and will help “set the record straight” for all three Baltic nations as well as helping to prevent something like this happening again. Let’s use the internet to do some good.

If you saw my earlier mailings on this topic and said, “I’ll do it later” – then today is the day – do it NOW, before you log off. It is easy and fast and secure. Just go to At the risk of sounding like one of those email chain letters we all used to get J (“Send this to everyone you know!”) I do ask you to sign up yourselves and to encourage your families and friends to do the same. A number of you have your own lists to whom you send items, please inform the members of those lists – it is a great movie! And, my dear international contacts, surely you know people living in North America – do take a minute to inform them and ask them to sign up to view the film.

While you are visiting the Singing Revolution website, do take a few minutes to browse through the various sections on history, etc., to read updates on the blog, to view the trailer…. Thank you! MAK

The Times, Oct. 18, 2007

The Horrors Of A Red T-shirt

Robert Crampton

It’s become an early 21st-century commonplace that the Right has won the economic argument, the liberal Left the cultural one. And, I would add, the revolutionary Left has, almost posthumously, won the argument over T-shirts, to the extent that their favourite hard men have entered mainstream iconography.

Last weekend, at my local farmers’ market, I saw a T-shirt for sale bearing the faces of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Castro. (Strange for a farmers’ market, admittedly. You can buy the usual humorously overpriced tomatoes and bottles of olive oil, too.) Paint the Town Red said the legend. And under the faces, in smaller text, Tough Dictator Finish. A bargain at £25.

But why, I thought, mentally totting up the misery these men have caused, stop at just the image? Why not feature a precis of each dictator’s personal death toll? Or maybe you could print an individual rollcall of repression and mass murder on the back of the shirt, as bands do with their tour dates? Obviously, it’d have to be a very large T-shirt.

Stalin: caused the Ukrainian famine, forcibly displaced entire peoples, including the Chechens, conducted the Great Purge, sent hundreds of thousands to the Gulag camps, ordered the Katyn massacre, signed an alliance with Hitler, weakened the Red Army by killing its officer corps, had thousands of returning Soviet PoWs executed for treason, antiSemitic, laughed at son’s suicide attempt, had most of own family murdered.

Mao: brought in killing quotas during land reform in the early Fifties, one landlord shot per village, starved millions during the so-called Great Leap Forward, unleashed the Red Guards to torture city-dwellers, spectacle-wearers etc during the Cultural Revolution, said “China is such a populous nation it is not as if we cannot do without a few people”.

Lenin: set up the Cheka, instigated the Red Terror, and thus the deaths of perhaps a quarter of a million opponents, signed off mass executions of former tsarist ministers and officials, issued the infamous hanging order for the exemplary execution of kulaks during the civil war, possibly syphilitic, no sense of humour, ghastly prose style.

Castro: political executions since the revolution running at somewhere between 5,000 and 12,000, not counting the thousands drowned trying to flee, including children swept into the sea with powerhoses by the Cuban Navy, country held down by the normal paraphernalia of a police state, rigged elections, lies, torture, toe-curling personality cult (Fidel, El Comandante etc).

If someone wore a T-shirt celebrating Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and, say, Somoza, or Pinochet, they would, one hopes and trusts, before long receive a firm instruction to desist or face the consequences. I can see no reason why anyone parading this equally gruesome quartet should be treated any less robustly, and at least with all that detail on the shirt, they might realise why.

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