Everything Beverly Beckham said in her column about Americans and Russians was factually accurate. (“Americans, Russians seem more alike than different,” Aug. 25)
I’m soon to enter the former USSR for the 21st time over 40 years and know that in most of the 15 republics, once you are behind the steel door of the flat or within the two-room bungalow, Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks open their generous hearts, as Americans do.
But politically, the United States and Russia have been and remain opposites. We have a republic. Russians are subject to tyranny, which they have sometimes accepted as protection against invaders, but only ended up with murderous Czarist and Stalinist cruelty.
Any doctrine of “equivalency” is thus (in my judgment) flawed and dangerous. We are equivalent human beings, but not in equivalent situations. During centuries of repression, Russians did rat out their family and neighbors. This is well documented. The KGB was not the same as the CIA, nor the Politburo the same as the US Congress.
Someday our common humanity will prevail, and it is always good not to forget that. But for the present, the doctrine of “political equivalency” is a bit like boys who played a couple of games of checkers in college playing chess with a grand master — i.e., Mr. Putin.