From www.grammar.com, we get today’s word of the day, dupe. Dupe can be either a noun or a verb. As a noun, it means “a person who is easily fooled” or “a person who unquestioningly or unwittingly serves a cause or another person” (unwittingly means “unknowingly” or “unintentionally”), according to www.dictionary.com. As a verb, dupe means “to make someone a dupe, to deceive, to trick, to delude.” Grammar.com lists a number of synonyms: gull, befool, cod, fool, put on, take in, put one over, put one across, and I’m sure we could think of many more.
According to www.etymonline.com, the word enters the English language from French: “’one easily deceived or led astray by false representations,’ 1680s, from French dupe ‘deceived person,’ from duppe (early 15c.), thieves’ jargon, perhaps from phrase de huppe ‘of the hoopoe,’ an extravagantly crested and reputedly stupid bird.”
The Ukraine has been in the news a lot lately, for anyone who pays attention to such things, so we’ll look at something related to that country. Since 2006, the Ukraine has, on the fourth Saturday of November, the Holodomor. Holodomor is a Ukrainian compound word that means “hunger plague” or “killing by starvation.” Holodomor refers to a terrible year in the history of the Ukraine, 1932-33.
If you look up Holodomor on Wikipedia, you’ll find it described as a famine, but that might be a little bit misleading because we generally think of a famine as a natural disaster, caused by lack of rain, resulting in too little food to feed all the people. But that’s not what happened.
In the late 20s, Josef Stalin and his Soviet government decided to enforce collectivization on the peasants of the Ukraine. The peasants, who had owned their farms until then, were expected to work as day laborers on these government-owned farms. For some reason, the peasants objected, but the Soviet government insisted. There were actually a number of peasant revolts in the early 1930s. And that led to Holodomor.
According to Anna Reid, in “Rule by Starvation” in The Wall Street Journal (06 Oct 2017), the takeover happened in 3 stages. “Teams of activists were dispatched to the countryside to persuade peasants to hand over land and livestock to state-controlled farms, where they would work as day laborers for payment in kind. Villagers remembered how out of place the visitors looked, tiptoeing through the mud in polished shoes. One even mistook a calf for a colt, brushing aside correction with the declaration that ‘the world proletarian revolution won’t suffer because of that.’”
Then, “A few months later, the Kremlin launched a parallel drive to evict and deport ‘kulaks’–a term that in theory referred to wealthy peasants but in practice meant community leaders and anyone, rich or poor, who resisted collectivization. Targeted were teachers, clerks, store keepers, millers and tanners, as well peasants who owned two cows rather than one or whose huts were roofed with tin rather than thatch.” Many people were taken to gulags, and some were even executed.
Then, “In August 1932, food theft was made punishable by death or 10 years’ imprisonment, sweeping thousands more into the Gulag. Requisitioning brigades snatched fruit from trees, seedlings from gardens, soup from cooking pots. They killed dogs and smashed millstones. Children were shot at by mounted guards as they crept into the fields to glean fallen grain.
“By New Year’s 1933 there was no food left, and full-scale famine took hold. Firsthand accounts are not as rich as those in Ms. Applebaum’s superb Gulag: A History (2003)–peasants were less likely to record their experiences than the middle-class professionals who filled the prison camps. But they are vivid enough: the eating of bark and weeds; children’s bird-like necks and wizened faces; ubiquitous, unremarked corpses; cannibalism. By the time Stalin finally called a halt in 1934, millions lay dead and thousands of villages stood empty.”
Estimates of the dead just in Ukraine run from 4 to 12 million. Millions more died in other countries. More, in case you’re wondering, than died in the Holocaust.
The news of this man-made famine was reported to the West in 1933, when a British journalist, Gareth Jones, snuck into the Ukraine and kept a journal of what he saw there: “I walked along through villages and twelve collective farms. Everywhere was the cry, ‘There is no bread. We are dying’. This cry came from every part of Russia, from the Volga, Siberia, White Russia, the North Caucasus, and Central Asia. I tramped through the black earth region because that was once the richest farmland in Russia and because the correspondents have been forbidden to go there to see for themselves what is happening.
“In the train a Communist denied to me that there was a famine. I flung a crust of bread which I had been eating from my own supply into a spittoon. A peasant fellow-passenger fished it out and ravenously ate it. I threw an orange peel into the spittoon and the peasant again grabbed it and devoured it. The Communist subsided.”
But the West did not believe Jones, in large part because of the efforts of Western journalists like “
Walter Duranty, a NY Times journalist (and Soviet sympathizer) who deliberately misled the world and denied the famine to collaborate with the Communist regime. He stated that the hunger was due to natural circumstances of malnutrition and disease and not human action,” according to FEE. And progressives in the West believed Duranty. He even won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from the Soviet Union.
The truth about Walter Duranty is that he was a dupe. Or perhaps a shill. He died in Orlando, FL, in 1957, in the peace of quiet of a free-market nation. Gareth Jones, on the other hand, was murdered by bandits in China just before his 30th birthday, and many believe that the murder was arranged by the KGB.
It is sad when the world we live in punishes those who tell the truth and reward dupes and those who destroy the lives of others.
The image is of passers-by and the corpse of a starved man on a street in Kharkiv, 1932 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor#/media/File:HolodomorUcrania9.jpg).