What is it about the mass murder of Ukrainians in the 1930s Holodomor that inspires yellow journalism even 75 years later?
First there was the infamous New York Times reporter who received a Pulitzer Prize for his yellow journalism back in the 1930s ... and principled journalists who reported the true facts were either ridiculed and fired from their jobs (like Malcolm Muggeridge) or ended up dying mysteriously at an early age (like Gareth Jones).
By the 1980s, as more information became available, unabashed deniers came out of the woodwork (and, incidentally, got a lot more press than new evidence implicating the Soviet govt in the Holodomor). It didn't take very long to discredit them however ... reputable scholars quickly exposed them for the crackpots they are.
Then just yesterday, Canada's self-styled "national" newspaper took up where the NYT left off. The Globe and Mail, for some reason decided to reprint an article by the Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He says that the Holodomor was not a genocide but a fairytale.
... [I]t did not occur to anyone to suggest to the zealous activists of the Communist Party and Young Communist League that what was happening was the planned annihilation of precisely the Ukrainians. The provocative outcry about "genocide" only began to take shape decades later - at first quietly, inside spiteful, anti-Russian, chauvinistic minds - and now it has spun off into the government circles of modern-day Ukraine, who have thus outdone even the wild inventions of Bolshevik agitprop.
To the parliaments of the world: This vicious defamation is easy to insinuate into Western minds. They have never understood our history: You can sell them any old fairy tale, even one as mindless as this.
I have no argument with newspapers publishing op-eds critical of the government's actions. Its keeps politicians on their toes (and also sells papers). But in this case, there is the little matter of timing vis-a-vis the topic.
Solzhenitsyn's op-ed was printed in the Boston Globe on April 5. So why reprint it nearly 2 months later, and right on the heels of the Canadian government's official declaration of the Holodomor as a genocide? And couldn't they find a Canadian writer/historian to do the job to their satisfaction?
(Full article here.)
This letter to the editor from a Boston Globe reader (and Harvard University history professor) reminded me that Solzhenitsyn has long been at the top of the MSM's list of approved anti-communists, and perhaps sheds some light on why.
... Solzhenitsyn's assertion that the treatment of the famine of 1932-33 as a genocide is the product of "spiteful, anti-Russian, chauvinistic minds" can be understood only if one equates the Communist government and the Russian people. Solzhenitsyn spent a good part of his life arguing that Communism and Russia were incompatible. His op-ed raises the question of whether he still believes in this.
To me, it raises the question of whether he ever did.
But the issue here isn't so much Solzhenitsyn's commitment (or not) to anti-communism as the yellow journalism employed by mainstream newspapers to discredit Ukrainian aspirations to sovereignty.
Could this reprint be a swipe at Yushchenko and his diaspora supporters?
Could it be an attempt to influence public opinion in order to weaken the democratic movement in Ukraine by driving a wedge between its supporters here in Canada?
But if some interpret this curiously-timed genocide-denying article reprint as anti-Ukrainian yellow journalism, could you blame them?
And can you blame readers for abandoning traditional newspapers peddling propaganda and turning to the internet to find the news, and the truth, for themselves?