It might be difficult to get this past Putin, but the “Today” show’s guidance would tell us that the place where communist apparatchiks reviewed and may yet review rivers of missiles and goose-stepping soldiers is now Blue Square. The Soviet Blue Army fought the Germans at Stalingrad. Mao, the leader of Blue China, wrote the Little Blue Book, which was carried by the Revolutionary Blue Guard as they sang the Blue China anthem, “The East Is Blue.” And everyone knows that the flags of countries like the former Soviet Union, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and North Korea are a brilliant, striking blue, just like the caps of the Jacobins.
The “blue towns” of Italy, run by the Italian Communist Party, shared with conservative red bastions the depredations of the Blue Brigades, which might have made Emma Goldman, famously known as “Blue Emma,” happy even during the infamous Blue Scare of 1919. Imagine if you will David Horowitz, a “blue-diaper baby,” clutching a copy of Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Blue October,” as he sits through Warren Beatty’s movie, “Blues,” which is not about music.
Helprin speculates this inversion was either an intentional effort by leftists or the result of “numbing cluelessness.” It was likely both; the leftist desire to escape their bloody label is obvious, but we also now have people approaching 40 (of all political stripes) whose whole adult lives came after the dissolution of the USSR. Combine that with the fact that it had nothing to do with the Iroquois writing the U.S. Constitution or Sojourner Truth freeing the slaves (that’s what happened right?), then it’s no surprise that people just swallow the red/blue inversion. One thing we can do to combat it is to get back to referring to leftists as Reds, like “the Reds in the White House” or “Chuck Schumer and his fellow Reds.”
And Helprin missed one: the line from “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Call me a blue, call me what you will.”