Serge Schmemann Blows it (Again)
We’ve pointed out the malignant activities of Russophile scum bag Serge Schmemann, editorial page editor of the International Herald Tribune on several prior occasions. We’re not the only ones who see the gaping flaws in Schmemann’s “analysis” of Russia by any means, and now the New York Times itself (IHT’s parent) has caught him in the act.
On August 22nd, Schmemann penned a book review for the Times headlined: “To Russia with Love.” The book was an account of a Soviet spy named Cy Oggins. In it, Schmemann claimed that Oggins had been executed by Stalin because the dictator believed he had been “turned” by the West. False. In fact, Oggins was killed because he new too much about Soviet espionage to be repatriated. Schmemann also misspelled the name of Oggins’s wife and published a photograph with an erroneous caption claiming a mugshot was dated to the night of Oggins’s execution. The Times was forced to append an embarrassing correction of this set of three shamelessly sloppy errors by its own editor. Think Schmemann insisted on apologizing for his profusion of gaffs? Think again. If the editor is this bad, can you imagine the quality of those Schmemann hires and supervises? We hardly dare to try.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as the accuracy of Schmemann’s review is concerned.
Schmemann begins by making a really sick joke out of the Valerie Plame scandal, including a truly sick shot at the New York Times reporter who spent time in prison (something Schmemann himself has surely never done) to protect her source.
He then continues this highly inappropriate tone as he discusses Stalin’s camps and the desperate espionage of the cold war, saying that the author can “hardly be blamed for his enthusiasm.” Apparently, Schmemann has not been reading the papers and is unaware that the current leader of Russia is a proud KGB spy imposing a draconian crackdown on civil rights and liberties in Russia. He seems to want to contend that all that is a dreary past that his long gone, one that truly erudite and evolved humans (like himself) are bored with hearing about.
Then come all those reading errors, which clearly show he didn’t even pay attention to the text he was being paid to review. The irony is simply delicious when he then writes:
“Surmises” is the key word here, because on this, as on far too many other things, Meier really doesn’t know. And therein lies the problem with “The Lost Spy.” We know where Oggins was at some junctures of his life. We meet a few of his friends (most notably Sidney Hook, the Marxist-turned-anti-Communist philosopher), examine a few grainy photographs and rummage through some Soviet and American official documents. But we never really get close to Cy Oggins. Page after page, Meier tells us what Oggins might have or could have or should have known, felt, witnessed or concluded. “No document records that Cy and Nerma stood among the fighters, but it is hard to imagine them missing the chance.”
This kind of mess of hypocrisy and stupidity is what the USSR used to produce with metronomic regularity. Schmemann states, as if uncovering the Watergate scandal:
Meier uses the subjunctive mood to signal the reader that he is often just guessing. But, alas, he doesn’t use it often enough. There are stretches of the story in which it’s not clear whether Meier is reporting, speculating or inventing. Oggins’s arrest, for example, is recounted in graphic detail: “By the time the doors of the voronka opened, Cy was in darkness. Two men hoisted him by either arm and took him in, stopping only at the receiving room. Cy stood as a clerk wrote down his name and the date and place of birth.” How does Meier know? He would know how such arrests usually took place, since there is ample literature on this. But where did he learn that “as he sat in his cell, Cy could not help but return to the past”? The text offers no clue, and neither do the notes.
Maybe the text offers no clue because nobody in the world except this weird freak cares about such a thing. And maybe the freak only cares about it because he wants to grasp for any possible way of denigrating a book that would remind readers what a horrifying place Russia really is, just at a time when a Russophile collaborator like this one would least be interested in that occurring.