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Opening Arguments

Cranks for freedom

It's sad to see someone once heroic not know when to get off the stage before he ends up a pathetic shell of his former greatness. No, not Brett Favre. This guy:

Solzhenitsyn started appearing on television twice a week as the host of a 15-minute show called "A Meeting With Solzhenitsyn." Most times he veered into condemnatory monologues that left his less outspoken guests with little to do but look on. Alessandra Stanley, writing about the program for The Times, said Solzhenitsyn came across "as a combination of Charlie Rose and Moses." After receiving poor ratings, the program was canceled a year after it was launched.

Solzhenitsyn was a hero to many in this country, especially on the right, because he so eloquently chronicled the sheer evil of Stalin's gulag. Even some of the strongest defenders here on the left of the communist experiment had to give up on the Soviet Union then. But then we discovered that he wasn't crazy about this country, either. We were cowards for giving up in Vietnam, our music was awful. We were weak spiritually and mired in vulgar materialism. Here we went and praised the guy for standing up for freedom, and he insists on coming here and actually exercising it! The audacity.

In the end, Solzhenitsyn turned out to be a mean old crank who didn't think much of anybody and lashed out at everything. That's the messy thing about freedom (as Bush & Co. are learning in the Mideast) -- people don't always use it the way you thought they would or think they should. We all have the right to turn into querulous dodders (any day now, in some cases). Some even have earned the privilenge of being tolerated in their nasty decrepitude. Solzhenitsyn did, and then some.


Mon, 08/04/2008 - 11:41am

Hey! Our music is pretty good.