“We are not better than native-born Americans, and of course not smarter. We’ve just been to the last stop of this bus.” - Sergei Dovlatov
Victor Topaller, the Moscow-born director, journalist, TV and radio personality, has earned the moniker "The Russian Limbaugh" due to his conservative views and hard-hitting programming. A relatively new citizen of the U.S., Topaller previously spent many years in Israel, where he became a "voice" for the country's large Russian-speaking community. Topaller recently took time out for an interview with FrontPage to discuss his Soviet background and his ultimate turn to conservatism.
Ilya Galak: Victor, why do you think Russian-speaking Americans call you, “The Russian Limbaugh”?
Victor Topaller: Well, probably because we both adhere to very conservative views.
In a classic Soviet satire by Ilf and Petrov, a group of characters investigates who among them share similar political views. One character was so far right that he didn’t even know what political party he could possibly belong to – I think that’s me. But seriously, I have great respect for Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity and Levin. Yet, there can’t be an accurate comparison - they were born here, in America, while I’m a migrant. We differ in origins, mentality and language. Oh! And I almost forgot – also in the sizes of our paychecks.
IG: Victor, we both went through the Soviet education system and memorized Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Lenin’s works by heart. If we didn’t we would not have gotten our diplomas. I personally think that the ideological heads of the Democratic Party and liberal labor unions simply copied their programs and slogans from there. What’s your opinion on this?
VT: There are no opinions here, only facts, and the facts are that Lenin’s “Global Socialist Revolution” is becoming a reality. Speaking of which, the “Leader of the Proletariat” was far from naive; he predicted that the global revolution will be carried out mainly by what he referred to as the “useful idiots from the West” – all that far-left-liberal riffraff… which is exactly what's happened. And as for unions, I’d rather not comment. After all, who wants to mess with them? Note that Lenin called labor unions “The Schools of Communism” - what else can one say?
IG: Your previous article “The House is Lost” went viral with Russian speakers in America, Israel, and even in Russia itself. I personally received it over 40 times from my friends all over the world. Please, explain to our American friends what is the meaning of the title “The House is Lost”?
VT: The title quotes the protagonist of Mikhail Bulgakov’s “Heart of a Dog,” Philip Philippovich Preobrazhensky. This professor of medicine, who despises Socialism and the Soviet regime with every fiber of his being, speaks of his beloved apartment building, which the Communists wrecked beyond recognition, leaving one no choice but to flee. It’s clear that it’s not so much about the house, but rather the country as a whole:
"What, again?" exclaimed Philip Philipovich mournfully. "Well, this is the end of this house. I’ll have to go away -but where to? I can see exactly what’ll happen. First of all there’ll be community singing in the evening, then the pipes will freeze in the lavatories, then the central heating boiler will blow up and so on. The House is Lost."
"Philip Philipovich worries himself to death," said Zina with a smile as she cleared away a pile of plates.
"How can I help it?" exploded Philip Philipovich. "Don’t you know what this house used to be like?"
This quote is the source of the title of my article on Obama’s reelection. You know, I had once the audacity to notice that if at least a fraction of the not-yet-terminally-insane U.S. politicians were familiar with Russian literature beyond Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekov: with the likes of Bulgakov, Platonov, Zoshchenko or Nagibin; this country wouldn’t be in such a shameful condition.
Incidentally, I think we can claim to understand American literature better than Americans understand Russian literature - we grew up reading Jack London, O.Henry, Mark Twain, James Fenimore Cooper, Mayne Reid, while authors like Salinger, Vonnegut, Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Dreiser, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Capote, Bradbury (one can keep on going) were revered as favorites. And of playwrights, it’s enough to mention Albee, Williams, Miller…
IG: What do you think about political correctness in America?
VT: Any noble undertaking, taken to absurd extremes, becomes a terrible evil. This is exactly what happened in America. Do you already call your “Christmas Tree” a “Holiday Tree”? Congratulations! I heard that soon the word “Woman” will be banned for sexual discrimination, and replaced by “Vaginamerican.” God - how many idiots are there in this world?
To me, political correctness is a serious evil. Taken to its absurd extreme, it becomes an ethical injury to this country, as it teaches apathy, falsehood and vileness. My friend, the famous writer, Mikhail Veller got it right when he said:
We all know that this is a cat, but we can’t call it a "cat" because it may get offended, so we call it "a tailed quadrupedal." We all know that the cat likes gobbling raw fish, but saying that would also be offensive, so we say that it "enjoys fresh sea food." In the meantime, the cat shits scot-free wherever it likes, leaving the lobby smelling so awful that none would enter the building.
I think that’s a very accurate analogy of political correctness and the crap-hole it dug us into. Political correctness is the duplicity and insincerity between what one says, and what one truly means, which was very common in the Soviet Union, but is far more dangerous here in America, given that it’s a free, democratic society.
IG: Israel, what can be done?
VT: Nothing has to be done. The right question is what should no longer be done. We have to stop deceiving, playing dumb, and pretending that the issue at hand is merely two sides in conflict, rather than the heroic struggle of the only civilized nation in a region otherwise inhabited by brazen bandits. Murderers and criminals should be called murderers and criminals. We need to realize that negotiating with terrorists is a dead end, a catastrophe; that back in the day pirates went extinct only when they were declared outlaws and cracked down upon by military forces. We must realize that Israel is our only ally in the region; and that what’s good for Israel is good for America, and vice versa. By the way, Hamas is on the FBI's and Department of State’s list of terrorist organizations.
If I’m not mistaken, the famous Soviet nuclear physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov once said that ultimately, honesty in politics brings success, while lies and hypocrisy that seem so “profitable and visionary” result in a total collapse.
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