What could American heroine Helen Keller, who overcame blindness and deafness, have in common with a Russian soldier who spent many years interred in Stalin’s gulags?
Different sex, different nationality, different handicaps…but they did have one big thing in common, besides being Christians. They both were widely praised as heroes from sea to shining sea-until they ran afoul of the reigning political paradigm.
In Helen Keller’s case, most of us know the story of how she overcame her terrible handicaps-and even went on to finish college. But then what happened to her? Are you ready for this?
She became a socialist. She considered the unjust and cruel conditions under which many Americans struggled and she decided to become a socialist and do something about it.
She supported labor movements and reform movements and suddenly found herself out of favor with the powers-that-shouldn’t-be. So the rest of her life after college has been erased from popular history like a shaken etch a sketch.
Solzhenitsyn was loved in America during the Cold War for his book The Gulag Archipelago, which described the horrors of Stalin’s USSR. But then he criticized America and the ardor cooled a bit. By the time he wrote Two Hundred Years Together, a history about Jews in Russia, he was a bum. Although he was a Nobel Prize-winning author, his book about Jews has been banned in English, though it was printed in a few other languages.
What! America banning books! Like Stalin! On what grounds? On political grounds; the book is supposedly AntiSemitic. Of course, I had to find the book and read it. If saying that Jews are regular people, some of whom are good and some are of whom are bad, is AntiSemitic, then I suppose he is. But I think that’s a lousy definition of Antisemitism.
Neither perpetual innocent victims nor ravening selfish beasts…just regular people; that is how Solzhenitsyn portrays Jews in Russia. But in the current political climate, that is enough to get your book banned.
I admire both Keller and Solzynitsyn. I admire them even more because they did not back down when they lost popularity.
“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each others welfare, social justice can never be attained.”
― Helen Keller
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”