Aeroflot. That was the first word that came to mind when watching the pictures of the crowds attacking the Capitol in the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C.
Why the Russian airline?
In 1969, about half a year after the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the small country’s hockey team defeated the mighty Soviet hockey machine at world championships in Stockholm, Sweden.
These two teams had a history of fierce battles, and the people of Czechoslovakia used to take them more as a sign of political struggle against the superpower that had been ruling them since 1948 than as an athletic contest.
That feeling grew much stronger after the invasion.
When the powers-that-be, imposed on Czechoslovakia by the Soviet communist rulers, saw the elation following Team Czechoslovakia’s first win over the hated Soviets, they also saw an opportunity.
A week later, Team Czechoslovakia defeated the hated Soviets again. Crowds filled all main squares all over the country, including the Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) in the centre of Prague, Czechoslovakia’s capital.
All of a sudden, someone shied a paving stone through the front store window of the Aeroflot office at the bottom part of the square. That triggered a veritable rock flood. The Aeroflot office was damaged beyond belief, and the newly-installed post-invasion rulers announced that this was a sign that the counter-revolution had not been defeated yet, and they had to declare something that looked and sounded like martial law.
Not only that: the newly-installed post-invasion rulers threatened that any repetition of such behaviour could test the Soviet occupiers’ patience and force them to install their own military government to teach the ungrateful people of then-Czechoslovakia an unforgettable lesson.
An interesting thing happened shortly afterwards, proving the new rulers still didn’t have matters fully under their control: a young criminal police officer in charge of the investigation of the Aeroflot attack found the person who threw the first stone. Turned out it was a criminal, released early from prison where he was serving time for a breaking-and-entering robbery, aggravated by an assault. The release was obtained by the State Security (StB in abbreviation), the secret political police.
According to the criminal police investigation, the robber admitted he was released and told by an StB official to start the riot in front of the Aeroflot office, in exchange for a promise of immunity from prosecution.
The criminal police ignored the StB promise and had the criminal charged.
Not only that: fearing that the political secret police would try something like that again, on the first anniversary of the invasion on August 21, the criminal police rounded up all criminals known to them in the days before the anniversary.
As masses of people gathered on Wenceslas Square to sing the country’s national anthem in protest, officers of the StB tried to incite violence themselves. Criminal police officers arrested most of the secret police provocateurs.
This was the end of the criminal police officer’s career. He had done the unthinkable, putting political secret police officers behind bars.
The official Czechoslovak communist media’s (there was no other at the time) fiery rhetoric resembles today’s mainstream media so much, contemporary witnesses could be forgiven for mistaking one for the other.
Despite the undeniable video evidence to the contrary, today’s mainstream media feed us with stories of right-wing extremist Donald J. Trump supporters storming the Capitol, wreaking havoc at every turn and performing what they call insurrection. And, while they are at it, they (and members of the Congress) accuse the sitting president of inciting it.
This is called chutzpah at its worst. (Definition of chutzpah: a person who killed both of her/his own parents pleads for mercy claiming s/he is a complete orphan.)
Not only does the right or left wing designation not work (it hasn’t almost since its inception centuries ago), but the actions and the vocabulary that accompanies them are too similar to what we used to see in communist countries. The same hysteria, the same rush to silence anyone who can whisper even an innocent question, and never mind objections.
In the case of the Soviet Union, it took seven decades of suffering to start removing the debris of socialism and communism.
In the case of the People’s Republic of China, their unusual forms of socialism and communism still oppress its 1,442,267,216 (as of New Year’s, 2021) people, more than 71 years after Mao Zedong’s takeover.
The same with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a.k.a. North Korea.
Now, the 331,965,664 (as of December, 2020) people who live in the U.S., are facing the same fate. And who knows for how long: today’s rulers have more weapons available to them than Vladimir Iliych Ulyanov-Lenin or Adolf Schickelgruber-Hitler used to have, thanks to all kinds of new technologies and, thanks to the experiences their predecessors had.
Nothing new under the sun, including the question: when, for crying out, will we ever learn?