Rad Geek People's Daily

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A parable

Here’s an old joke from the Brezhnev era. I offer it as a parable in light of the recent debate at Catallarchy (2005-12-15) and Unclaimed Territory (2005-12-14) over public objections to the killing of Tookie Williams and the alleged failure of his supporters to properly denounce all the murderous regimes in the world.

A Soviet apparatchik has been assigned to show an American guest around Moscow. They’re standing on the subway platform waiting for the train, which is now a couple of minutes late. The apparatchik is passing the time by showing his guest the map of all the subway stops throughout Moscow and the spotless cleanliness of the platform — a triumph of socialist efficiency and the rational planning of the people’s public works committee. The American nods quietly and agrees that it’s very clean. Half an hour later, the apparatchik is still talking, and there’s still no train in sight; by now he’s moved on to pointing out the ornate beauty of the station and the murals on the walls — a visible manifestation, he says, of the people’s victory, and the workers’ heroic sacrifices. The American says Yes, Sergei Ivanovich, it is very elaborate. After about an hour another train whizzes by without stopping on its way to another station, and the apparatchik (who’s looking pretty nervous at this point) tries to get his American guest to marvel at the latest triumphs of Soviet science and technology that allow the trains to run faster and more quietly than any in Eastern Europe. Finally the American turns to his guide and says, That’s all very impressive, Sergei Ivanovich, but where is our train?

His guide turns very red in the face and blurts out, And what about your blacks in the South?

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