Wednesday's insurrection had me thinking about my senior thesis I wrote in university about Russian Orthodoxy under Stalin between 1941-1945. For the thesis, I interviewed an elderly Russian woman who was a child during this period. Thankfully, my Russian was good enough back then to conduct this interview, because her responses were very insightful and reveal something common I've seen throughout time and varying situations, including what we are witnessing now.
Maria Alexandrovna (name changed for privacy) is/was (I'm not sure if she is still living) a devout Russian Orthodox woman, and devout follower of Stalin. Communist Russia, especially under Stalin, was deeply anti-religion and ran aggressive anti-religion campaigns. Religion was virtually cancelled, and you risked your life if you practiced your faith. That is, until 1941 when Germany broke the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, and Stalin revived Russian Orthodoxy as way to rally patriotism across the USSR.
What was interesting to me, and alway stayed with me, was that when I asked Maria Alexandrovna who ordered them to throw their icons away, and essentially forced them to practice their faith in secret, she told me people kept telling her it was Stalin, but she said "No, Stalin wouldn't do that." In her eyes, for all her life, Stalin was a hero. Even as her family was sent to Siberia to work, for reasons she still did not seem to know, Stalin was her hero. As a reminder, Stalin led a "reign of terror," responsible for the deaths of an estimated 20 million people, had history books rewritten to make him look better while removing former associates who were executed during his purges, and eliminated anyone who dissented against him. Sound familiar in any way shape or form?
Like Stalin, Trump uses religion to rally his supporters. He has even gone so far as to walk to a church with which he has no affiliation to hold up the Bible for a photo-op. As a Christian woman, I am deeply offended by his exploitation of religion to rile up his followers. But many of his followers rely on their Christian faith as a reason to support him. Some even believe God sent Trump to do God's work, believing him to be a savior for our nation. Similar to Stalin, Trump has become the leader of a cult. He told a bunch of white supremacists "We love you. You're very special." If after Wednesday, a person still cannot see how dangerous this person is, it seems there is nothing that would change their mind. In my post after Biden was confirmed President-elect, I talked about the need to build bridges with the 70 million people who still voted for Trump, but I'm having a difficult time with this right now.
I have always been a proud patriot, and when I studied the Constitution and Constitutional Law in law school, I gained a deep respect for our Constitution, and deeper love for our country. What we witnessed Wednesday was nothing short of the most unpatriotic act I've witnessed in my lifetime, on top of being nothing short of domestic terrorism committed by white supremacists. It was hypocrisy at its finest, racism on full blast, grotesque entitlement, and a complete disrespect to our country and Constitution. I'm physically ill thinking about this, because I believe every American should be offended by the insurrection on our Capitol and on our democracy. This is a matter of right and wrong, and what happened Wednesday was too far wrong. I'm not saying that 70 million people supported this act, but it hasn't changed many of their minds about Trump, which is what I have difficulty reconciling.
I was going to end this post there, but I decided to call up a Trump supporter I know to hear his thoughts on Wednesday. I just thought, he could not think there was any right in what happened, and I have to know his thoughts because I need to know what the other side thinks. Perhaps it's the lawyer in me that needs to know all sides of the situation, I just felt I had to try to understand what some of Trump's supporters are thinking that leads them to continue supporting him. I'll be addressing my takeaways from our conversation in my next post.