New York Times op-ed lauding the Soviet space program is Bolshevik B.S.

Pentagon Run-Down

Sculpture of Yuri Gagarin on the grounds of the European Astronaut Center. Koln, 23.12.2018

Photo by: Christoph Hardt/Geisler-Fotopres/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images.

One of the few things that aggravates your friend and humble narrator more than hazelnut flavored coffee is Soviet apologists.

Case in point: A recent opinion piece in the New York Times claims the Soviet space program was a model for equality, noting the Soviets put a woman into space 20 years before NASA when Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova orbited the Earth in 1963.

"Cosmonaut diversity was key for the Soviet message to the rest of the globe: Under socialism, a person of even the humblest origins could make it all the way up," wrote Sophie Pinkham just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.


A few things about this argument doesn't hold up. The Soviet Union – and Russia – have a long tradition of institutional antisemitism. In fact, one of this correspondent's ancestors fled Odessa when it was part of the Russian Empire. The family lore goes he was out of the Jewish ghetto after nightfall and was attacked by two Cossacks, so he put two boots over his hands and killed the Cossacks by punching them with the iron-soled boots. (Chances are, this story is not even remotely true.)

Also, Pinkham's piece ignores that the Soviet Union was one of the most evil regimes on Earth. The Soviets are guilty of starving the Ukrainians several times, forcibly deporting the Chechens, Tartars, Poles, and other peoples; and so many more crimes against humanity that would take centuries for a Nuremberg-like court to adjudicate them all.

As investigative journalist Michael Weiss aptly tweeted on Thursday: "The gulag was also a cornucopia of ethnic and racial diversity. Who signs off on this shit at the Times?"

That is a very good question, especially since the Times failed to identify Pinkham's opus as an opinion piece. Considering the newspaper has unsuccessfully tried to return the 1932 Pulitzer Prize awarded to its former correspondent Walter Duranty, who denied that Stalin was starving Ukraine, it is odd to see the New York Times embrace yet another whitewash of Soviet crimes.

The Times did not provide a comment for this story.

A NASA spokesman acknowledged that it took time for the U.S. space program to embrace diversity, but today's astronauts are much more representative of America as a whole.

"When NASA was created in 1958, you had to be a military test pilot to become an astronaut, and it did take decades for the astronaut corps and other areas of the agency to truly be reflective of America's diversity," Sean Potter told Task & Purpose. "Following the Apollo-era we saw more of an emphasis on science, medicine, and engineering in the astronaut selection process, and that opened new doors. The 1978 astronaut class and the space shuttle brought in the diversity we didn't see in the space program of the 1960s."

Pinkham could not be reached for comment on Friday. Her piece comes at a particularly bad time, when politicians have realized that they can wage open warfare on reporters and not suffer any consequences. The fact that readers may believe Pinkham is a staff writer for the New York Times will give ammunition to elected officials who want to deport journalists to Soviet-style labor camps.

It's doubly galling for this reporter to be lumped into the same category as Soviet propagandists because your friendly Pentagon correspondent hails from Philadelphia, where the Flyers beat the ever-living piss out of the Red Army's hockey team in 1976.

Not only did the Flyers beat the Soviets 4-1, but the Broad Street Bullies were so aggressive in checking the Russian players that the Red Army team refused to take the ice against them for 18 minutes – until Flyers owner Ed Snider threatened to refuse to pay them unless they finished the game.

Your intrepid correspondent has also angered communists by making fun of former Lt. Spenser Rapone, the Che Guevara wannabe who was kicked out of the Army after posting pictures of himself espousing socialism while in his West Point uniform and tweeting that then Defense Secretary James Mattis was the "the most evil, vile f**k" in the Trump administration.

It's 2019. The Soviet Union collapsed close to 30 years ago. Can we stop waxing nostalgic for the Bolshevik revolution? The Soviets only believed in equality when it came to wiping peoples off the face of the earth.

UPDATE: Last week's Pentagon Run-Down has been updated to more accurately reflect Jacqueline L. Hazelton's comments about Afghanistan. You can find that here.

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