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Letters to the editor for Feb. 16, 2021

Letters to the editor for Feb. 16, 2021


What we really saw

In Moscow, in March of 1953, no fewer than 100 people were trampled and crushed to death in the crowds that turned out to watch the funeral procession being held for Joseph Stalin.

Twenty-year-old Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who would become an acclaimed Soviet poet, had gone in the hope of catching sight of Stalin’s coffin. He later described getting caught up in the frantic, seething mass of mourners that drove everyone on inexorably, possessed by a frenzy of grief and fear. The relentless crowd pushed Yevtushenko up against a girl who was pinned between him and the post of a traffic light. In the madness, the crowd pressed him against her so forcibly that he felt the girl’s bones cracking under the pressure. And then he was swept on. The girl dropped to the ground, dead, and was trampled as soon as she fell. Carried along by the crowd, Yevtushenko felt other bodies beneath his feet. He saw other people fall beneath the human tide.

In horror and disgust, Yevtushenko managed to escape the mayhem without getting any sight of the coffin. Back home, his mother asked if he had seen Stalin. “Yes,” he answered. “I hadn’t lied to my mother. Stalin was really what I had seen.”

Everyone who has seen the horrific video of the Capitol assault shown by House impeachment managers at the start of last week’s trial, everyone who has heard the hateful shouts of the attackers and seen the desperate efforts of the people trying to guard the Capitol, can say just as accurately, “Yes. Trump is really what I have seen.”



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