06 March 2019

The Hilarity of Waving the Russian Flag

A friend posted this article today: "CPAC Crowd Duped Into Waving Russian Flags During Trump Speech".  I happened to have put on the t.v. when the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) Convention was being aired on C-SPAN, and watched for quite a while because all the praising of Israel and the political ideology of Zionism was honestly astounding.  It went on and on and on!  It was so over the top that I actually wondered if AIPAC had changed its name to CPAC. 

The article tells about the Russian Flag incident, that many small flags had been distributed as a prank and were to be waved when our President appeared at the Convention.  I did not see that part because he did not appear during the time I was watching.  No surprise, though, since I often manage to miss his appearances on the news - without trying.  But what I did watch was uncomfortably worrisome. (Yes, the above graphic is not the Russian flag.  Perhaps it will become clear, further along, why it is included.)

The Russia-Israel Connection

I have long known of the strong connections between Russia and Israel.  I guess the connections are supposed to be considered clandestine and secret since they are not spoken of by folks with M.E. and/or Russian interests and scholarly knowledge, even though it is a very strong and long-lasting connection - including many decades prior to the half century before Israel declared itself a nation (150 years for the connection being a conservative estimate, actually).  So, learning of the prank flag waving seemed quite apropos given having happened upon the CPAC Convention.  It seemed simply a reflection of this actuality, although it may not have been the pranksters overt intent for it to reflect the Russia/Israel connection.  Of course it reflects the current political brouhahas - one of which is the Russian connection of our president.  Of course, regardless of evidence about anything else surfacing that is Russian connected also, there are our President's marriages and his children - U.S.S.R. connections which were not established recently.

To be honest and fair to flag wavers who were perhaps innocently waving the Russian flag, I certainly would not have recognized the Russian flag, myself, perhaps along with many other folks.  The flags of many nations are red, white, and blue.  It might be of interest to note that it is said the current Russian flag was reputed to have first been used as an ensign for Russian merchant ships, then officially became the flag of the Tsardom of Russia, 1696.  However, from the point of view of it being a prank to have attendees unknowingly waving the Russian flag at our President, given his so often derisive "sense of humor" (I guess it could be intended to be a sense of humor) it IS funny, in the "if you can give it then you better be able to take it", category. But it runs deeper than that for me, and not pleasantly. 

The KGB Three Generations Caper

One of my most trustworthy best friends from decades ago once told me that the KGB was tasked to keep track, for three generations, of all those who had left the U.S.S.R.  After WWII emigration restrictions were imposed by the Soviet Union and its Satellite nations.  Of course, other than some who managed to escape (defectors with the help of people like the veteran husband of a friend), ordinarily the only folks allowed to leave the U.S.S.R. when I was growing up were Jewish folks.  Even so after applying to leave people were  often made to wait a long time, sometimes for two decades or more. And once they applied to leave, they waited to be allowed to leave as "refusniks" which was not an easy life, particularly if their lives, because of their work, had been privileged and comfortable prior to applying to leave. 

Many refusniks  were required to wait because of security reasons associated with the work they had been doing when they applied to leave, which then relegated them to refusnik status and a change of employment with fewer privileges.  Those who finally were allowed to leave were required to emigrate to Israel.  Another friend's father successfully helped to legally get scientists out of the U.S.S.R. because, of course, the U.S.S.R. was concerned about a "brain drain".  Once safely arrived in Israel many of the Russian immigrants chose to emigrate elsewhere. 

A daughter of refusniks told me of her family's experiences.   She was probably around about 19 at the time and had been born after her parents applied to leave. They arrived in Israel when she was 17.  Of course her family was being surveilled, so too the family of my friend who had told me about surveillance being conducted for at least up to three generations.  Someone in my family is part Russian . . . I do not know whether or not 2nd or 3rd generation, but I can guarantee our family was kept track of too. Although, part of that early-on was most likely "guilt by association", instead, since I grew up with other relatives who would have been 3rd generation, with their 2nd and 1st generation relatives also in my life.  And my most frequent playmates were twins of long-time family friends with the  husband having been 3rd generation.  Thus we all were under surveillance from time to time, some times much more invasively than other times, depending on circumstances.  Close and not so close family and networks of contacts did not escape being watched, at least periodically.  Of course when we were children we did not know.  Some of the adults may have known.

We lived in a small town until I was nine and a half  years old, of not more than 1,500 population.  And nothing new or unusual gets past the notice of nearly the entire adult population of a small town.  Even so I do not know how invasively surveillance might have been experienced by our parents, if at all, when we all were young children.  But when I was an adult . . . well, most simply, not only in retrospect but also at the time, numerous occurrences raised questions. 

Cold War Obnoxious Intrusive Invasiveness

The Cold War loomed large in our lives when we were all growing up.  Spycraft also loomed large, given the proliferation of concern about moles and sleeper families.  No one who might have been a valuable source to cultivate needed to have family from the U.S.S.R. to be watched.  Being employed where a clearance of some type or another was required was enough and demanding of caution.  However, from a later time in life, I can say that having family and close friends who were descendant of people from the U.S.S.R. and/or its satellites (including when it was Russia, before the U.S.S.R. was established, 1922) insured much more invasive methods of surveillance.  It was all actuality occurring a whole lot differently than the stereotypical Cold War "paranoia" scenario.

What I can say is that once one has experienced, as an independent young adult, all the obnoxious intrusive  invasiveness that is associated with surveillance and the plethora of creative and criminal ways in which it occurs, especially when it is KGB (now SVR) counterintelligence surveillance, and a couple of other intelligence agencies ( NSA/FBI ) added into the mix which would require a backstory to say more about - then evading surveillance for a short time is always an interesting challenge. And especially IF it stops for any length of time (like months and years) and is noticeably absent, life becomes uplifting and a true joy.  When/if surveillance starts up again, after having been absent for a long period of time, it is as difficult to endure subsequent times around, if not worse.  There is a hallmark feeling and method associated with KGB surveillance which is palpably recognizable in no pleasant ways, and something one never forgets - also something one always recognizes.  Something similar can also be stated about all intelligence surveillance, including that of my own nation, especially when it aims to be "Herbert Hooverish" in nature.

Given I have not ever personally experienced anything humorous in association with the ubiquitous "Russian connection", in light of reality the hilarity of the flag waving article might have missed the mark, its sardonic humor escaping my notice, if it had not been for the goings on during the most recent presidential campaign season with at least four candidates having close connections with Russia and the political parties also having connections.  Two years later "the Russian connection" still demands time and attention.