The fall of governments used to be heralded in signs and graffiti in hidden byways.  Today, it is broadcast over public airways.

I just had a chance conversation with two men from Russia, one with Ukrainian roots.  They had been here only a few years.  Their joy at experiencing our freedoms was tempered by sorrow over the war.  I commented that that whole tragedy, all the deaths, all the destruction, all the lives left alive but ruined, was due to one man, one megalomaniac.  They corrected me.

“At first, I tried to explain that it wasn’t the Russian people,” one said.  But the more he talked with relatives in Russia, he began to realize how pervasive and how effective is Putin’s propaganda machine.  It was in describing the hold that the propaganda had over the people that he seemed the most hopeless.

The Washington Post is wrong.  Democracy does not die in darkness.  It dies on television screens and on radio speakers and on the internet.  It dies from lies preying on all too human resentments and grievances and prejudices.    

We should not need another warning, but there it is, anyway.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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