Editor's note: For the past three weeks, two Forest Grove residents have traded divergent views of history and the lessons it holds for modern-day America. Walt Wentz started the tit-for-tat with a guest column criticizing George Bush. Krystof Zmudzinski responded with a column drawing parallels between the perceived abuses of our current commander-in-chief and the perceived virtues of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Wentz countered last week with a defense of FDR. This week Zmudzinski wraps up the exchange with some thoughts about the American left's views of another strong world leader.

Both gentlemen have agreed that this will end their public discussion in the printed pages of their hometown paper.

But we encourage you to take up the conversation.

It is often said that elections are won not by people who vote but by people who count the votes. (Apparently it is only a rumor that Bill Bradbury says this when he counts petition signatures.)

The same could be said about history.

March 5 marked 55 years since Joseph Stalin died. As I was growing up in Gdansk, Poland, I often heard anecdotes of people crying in the streets when they heard the news.

Some cried because they were afraid to look indifferent or, God forbid, rejoice. Others however were truly sorry for a great leader was dead. They mourned because the only history they knew was written by Stalin himself.

It took decades before the scale of Stalin's crimes and failures of Soviet economic system were fully understood by Americans, where many progressives were sympathetic to Stalin and to communism.

They believed that only a central government could solve human ills by controlling all aspects of the economy and people's lives, and that such a government should have all the power it needed to deal with its detractors.

And so in the 1930s, the American media were unwilling to truthfully report on Stalin's tyranny. Maybe the most infamous of all was the New York Times and its Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty.

While millions were perishing in Ukraine, Duranty not only denied that fact, he denounced British journalists who tried to report the truth as malignant propagandists. Duranty defended Stalin's tyranny and his use of gulags, the Siberian labor camps, as necessary means to a more egalitarian state.

No wonder FDR was able to enact new federal programs the U.S. Constitution never envisioned. After all, people didn't know how much personal freedoms they were about to forfeit to gain little economic security.

When Stalin became an U.S. ally in WWII, criticizing him would have been counterproductive. Since almost anything FDR did was supported by progressives in the US media, no bad or critical news was allowed.

After the war, progressives and other communist sympathizers continued to infiltrate the academia, the media and the federal government a.

This is also when history books were written by people like Howard Zinn. Books that were understanding of tyrants who in the name of progress committed grave crimes.

They were also very approving of FDR and many others who tried to push the country closer toward socialism no matter the cost, no matter the consequences.

When the Soviet Union finally failed, Americans were allowed to take a look at the vast destruction wrought by Stalin and those who succeeded him.

In the name of a society without classes people were forced to live in virtual slavery; millions were starved to death, sent to gulags, and executed. And that economic security never materialized anyway. Food and health care had to be rationed for the central government was too corrupt and inefficient to provide for its subjects.

Today, progressives in the academia and the media, even when confronted with objective evidence, continue praising their political heroes while refusing to acknowledge shortcomings or even utter failures of their policies.

Attempts at unbiased analysis are routinely met first with ridicule, then by character assassination and outright intimidation.

History's gatekeepers control what we know. Shouldn't we ask for a recount?

Krystof Zmudzinski lives in Forest Grove.

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