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More News in 1952… and Why Not Lower Flags for Gorbachev?

Tony Venhuizen, who himself served a Snow Queen, notes the death of Queen Elizabeth II with a comparison of three big South Dakota newspapers’ front-page announcements of the British monarch’s death with their front pages from 70 years ago when her father died:

Tony Venhuizen, "South Dakota and the Queen," SoDak Governors, 2022.09.09.
Screen cap from Tony Venhuizen, “South Dakota and the Queen,” SoDak Governors, 2022.09.09.

You can read each front page on Venhuizen’s site. Just check out the contents: today’s Argus runs four stories, a big ad, and a weather blip on the front, while 1952’s gives us 13 stories, two weather columns, and a joke about vitamins and clams! The Rapid City Journal and Mitchell Daily Republic each give four stories on the modern front page versus 18 stories plus weather in 1952. It’s hard to believe Grandpa would have had time to turn to page 2 before hopping in the Edsel to go to work.

Speaking of the Queen, South Dakota and other states are flying flags at half-staff to note the passing of the titular head of the exact form of government this nation explicitly rejected in its formation and holds anathema to its Constitution to this day. The Queen is dead, as ought be monarchy in general and all other forms of autocracy. But let me just ask: if we will lower American flags in honor of a mostly ceremonial foreign head of state, why did we not similarly lower American flags to honor on his death Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the most consequential leaders of the 20th century?


  1. All Mammal 2022-09-10 11:35

    Look at our governor. We are a pageantry culture. We elect reality tv characters as the leader of the free world. And a snow queen for governor. We like crowns and fake titles, not actual working stiffs who have meaningful consequence.

  2. Jake 2022-09-10 11:46

    Cory, your last question deserves many second (etc.) thoughts. Very good, as Gorbachev was the driving force that helped us win that portion of the Cold War that involved the former USSR. Sure, Putin is a major “thorn in the ass” today, but Gorbachev was on thr right track until Putin (like trump) came into play leader.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-10 13:51

    Well, of course, Gorbachev was much more consequential than a ceremonial Queen. Gorby was a lifelong KGB spy and administrator and knew the exact position of the USSR as a cold war opponent of the US. He knew they were hopelessly behind, their economy in shambles, the people dispirited and drunk on the job, their money worthless, and that a corrupt Communist Party was shouldering a hugely expensive obligation to prop up, with money and troops, totally incompetent, old Markist dictators in the country’s of Eastern Europe.

    He knew that his nuclear submarine force had lost the location of several US nuclear attack subs and that in a nuclear exchange Mother Russia would be a waste land. He feared that there really might be something to Reagan’s “Star Wars” threat. He knew USSR science was decades behind the United States. He knew that his country could not make a functioning refrigerator.

    Gorbachev knew the WWII generation was dying and he had a unique opportunity to create change and save Mother Russia. Yuri Andropov, for twenty years head of the KGB and a brutal realist, served as his mentor and prepared him to be a change agent. Gorbachev pulled the plug on the Cold War. Unfortunately, he was also Putin’s mentor.

  4. leslie 2022-09-10 14:15

    “I feel…just capital” as in, yours is a profound idea for America to recognize if it is going to get along with the remnants of evil current autocracy in Russia and N. Korea after the war mongers are gone, effectively unite the world to address global warming, and serve all the people instead of the corrupt greed of billionaires and corporate fossil fuel burning.

    Surprised one of our 535 congressional electeds has not thought to raise this with the President yet! Of course Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld already coopted “evil” describing Iraq, Iran and N.Korea.

    All good reds are still dead reds, in ‘murica! (Ray Cohn, counsel to Joe McCarthey, Fred Trump and Idiot Donald!)

    A screen shot for a few Saturday laughs, the hallucinating, moon-howling and evil melodrama villain Curly Bill, in Tombstone, where i seem to get so many lines from such talented performers!) Heck, I guess I grew up on Rockerville’s cheesy melodrama plays my folks took us to throw peanuts!


  5. Donald Pay 2022-09-10 14:23

    All Mammal has a good point, but sometimes we elect businessmen, which I think is worse than electing a pageant queen or a reality TV star. Trump combined the worst of all three: he ran a pageant as a reality show as a business. He never worked a day in his life, but he was able to fool a lot of people that he “alone, could do it.” By doing it, he meant wrecking the country.

    As far as the Queen Elizabeth or Gorbachev flag lowering question, the Queen was the current head of state of our closest ally, while Gorbechev was not. I grant that Gorbechev had to show a lot more leadership to make the changes he did.

  6. WillyNilly 2022-09-10 16:12

    The newspapers featured were printed about the time I began to read them. My parents read me the comics to start and as my reading improved I began reading the paper on my own. This is the kind of newspaper I remember… something to read or look at on every page even for a little kid. I understand what has been lost to the age of social media and required confidentiality. So, I wonder, how many columnists and reporters contributed to an Argus in 1952? How far did they range across the area? I didn’t know the signs of bias as a little kid… were they biased? The Argus ran a Christmas serial story for years and I used to fight with my dad when he took that part of the paper with him to work.

  7. Nick Nemec 2022-09-10 20:10

    I haven’t been off the farm since the Queen died, and wasn’t aware that flags were at half mast. If I was in charge US flags would not be lowered for either Gorby or the Queen. Queen Elizabeth II might have been a nice lady and the figurehead ruler of our closest ally, but we did fight a war of independence to rid ourselves of the British empire. Even though he eventually saw the light, Gorby was the leader of our great Cold War enemy.

    The US flag dips for no foreign ruler or potentate.

  8. John 2022-09-10 20:21

    Exceptional analysis again, thanks Cory. The Queen’s passing should have been on the obituary page – nothing more.
    US networks play the Queen non-stop, yet refused covering President Biden’s ‘threat to democracy’ speech. The networks clearly are on the side of autocracy and oligarchs.
    American’s would have stood in line to tar and feather, then draw and quarter King George. Americans sent a million Tories packing back to England or to Canada after the Revolution.
    It’s beyond me why the US pretends there is a “special relationship” with Britain. They bled white in WWI – we bailed them out. They bled white in WWII – we bailed them out. Britains pretended to further extend their bust empire over the Suez – President Eisenhower called them out telling Britain to stand down or the US would call Britain’s WWII debt. Then in modern times the Britains stupidly did BREXIT. Now they have 4 prime ministers in 6 years – perhaps a reflection of an Italian or South American government. And 3 of those prime ministers were not elected by the people.
    Certainly Britains have redeeming qualities. But “special relationship” – bah humbug. Malarkey. Our governor can shove her half staff flag up her bum.

  9. All Mammal 2022-09-11 00:08

    I agree with everyone. Mr. Pay brings up a good lesson about electing businessmen to office. Especially one who has run every business he has touched into the ground and left the tax payers with the bill like trump pulled in Manhattan. The death of a 90 something queen is not all-day news when you can’t find our own president giving a speech to the nation during or after on the TV.

    As for my flag, there is no non-hateful excuse our legislators have for voting no on it flying alongside the individual flags of the Great Sioux Nation in our state capital. When Mr. Bordeaux and Mr. Reinert proposed a bill to allow the Sicangu, Oglala, Hunkpapa, Cheyenne River, Sisseton, Lower Brule, Crow Creek, Yankton (my dad’s not here anymore to remind me who I’m leaving out, I’m sorry) flags to be represented in Pierre where all the other flags are flown on the promenade, they could not get a louder hell NO vote than the one they got. How come? Shouldn’t we all be proud to see the myriad of flags our state represents? Including our tribal nations. I bet other states wish they still had First Nations citizens. I can’t tell people to feel the way I do, but at least acknowledge the living, dang. Half mast for the queen of England? Sheeeit. That is a trip.

  10. P. Aitch 2022-09-11 09:09

    The first non-broad sheet newspaper was the New York Daily News. Labeled a “tabloid, picture paper” it was marketed to the working class and scorned by the NYTimes readers as low class and sensationalist.
    Thus began the White MAGA’s inventing themselves daily as victims, victims, and even bigger victims.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-11 09:14

    Arlo: Gorbachev as Putin’s mentor? Can you provide some evidence for that claim? Putin was certainly in the KGB while Gorbachev was in power, but I haven’t seen documentation of a direct connection between the men. Gorbachev and Putin appear to have pursued opposite agendas; Putin has been working to erase Gorbachev’s legacy.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-11 09:22

    I appreciate Nick’s comment that the American flag should bow to no foreign potentate. I’m inclined to say it should dip for half the people we lower it for nowadays. We take the flag to half-staff so frequently that the gesture loses its potency… or suggests that American life is so full of death and tragedy that we might as well save money on flag rope and install the top pullet only midway up every pole.

    But then again (and I’m not trying to contradict myself, I’m just wondering), could lowering our flag to honor the passing of foreign dignitaries represent and foster a healthy globalism? Even if the Queen is a mere figurehead (and a representative of white Euro-colonialism—insert hard leftist burn-everything-down critique here), might we benefit from having more (and more substantial, influential, agenda-setting, peacemaking) public figures who foster respect and pride and, when they die, a shared sense of loss that transcend national boundaries? Might events like the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and Mikhail Gorbachev help humanity view itself as one great civilization with a common interest in survival and progress?

  13. All Mammal 2022-09-11 12:14

    Well, can you blame them, Mr. G? That was in 2019 and referring to the capitol. The 2022 bill was proposing the displayvoutside along the waterfront at the capital. Anyways, Gov. Noem only wanted to have a photo taken for her image, clearly not out of respect. I like my flag and am proud of my flag. I also like my Don’t Tread on Me flag. It flies beneath my nation’s flag. I don’t wear them as capes. When it gets cold or I want to fly, I wear my drug rug from Mexico.

  14. P. Aitch 2022-09-11 15:14

    PS … The Queen was a solid ally of USA and not as stodgy as portrayed. DYKnow she owned a McDonalds? And not a trashy Pierre, SD McD, either. Because it was widely known it was hers, she adorned it with classic furniture and royally appropriate accoutrements.

  15. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-11 15:59

    Cory–Putin was closely associated with Gorbachev’s enemy Boris Yeltsen. BUT..its Russian Communist Party politics. All things are not as they appear. Putin is also a career KGB man rising through the ranks during the years Yuri Andropov is KGB kingpin. Gorbachev (I was wrong, he was not a KGB man but a technocrat)closely aligned himself with Andropov and was a favorite of Andropov as was Putin. Yeltsen, a confirmed quart a day drunk and, maybe a CIA man, is espousing democracy and revolt against the Party .Andopov, whose become Communist Party leader and Premier, brings Putin from Leningrad to Moscow and installs Gorbachev as number 3 in the Party. Andropov dies and an ancient, feeble cohort is installed as his predecessor though its obvious that he will die soon and Gorbachev will be in line.

    Putin, at this time, is viewed by the Breznev people, who are still prominent in the Party, as a young Turk, a strong Nationalist, and a loyal Communist. He has been a reform Mayor of Leningrad briefly, and in the midst of political chaos, seems to switch sides and support Yeltsen, who is the reform Mayor of Moscow and espousing Democracy and elections. He was probably a KGB plant to nuetralize Yeltsen. Revolution ensues. Yeltsen briefly reigns but is outmaneuvered by Gorbachev (probably assisted by Putin). Yeltsen’ss democratic reforms were popular with the people but he was just too drunk to follow through. Gorbachev takes control and institutes several reforms. The Eastern bloc satellites declare independence which is fine with Gorbachev BUT the USSR Republics, in the midst of the chaos, declare their independence. (A complete surprise to the US intelligence community.)

    Gorbachev reforms are anathema to Putin, but having survived the chaos, he plays “get along and go along,” . for a few years and solidifies his relationships with the Oligarchy and the old Party power brokers. Putin is especially opposed to the break away Republics and the rise of militant Muslims in Central Asia. He espouses reunification of the USSR and an aggressive national defense. Gorbachev does not overtly oppose Putin but tolerates his views as a “difference of opinion.” Gorbachev’s reforms run out of gas as the economy craters, and after considerable infighting between the old Commies and the young market fascists, Putin rises to power.

    While Gorbachev may have not been his mentor, Gorbachev had opportunities to destroy Putin, but chose not to. As in everything Russian, it is complicated.

  16. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-11 16:06

    The big takeaway from the fall of the USSR is that it totally took the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community by surprise. We had totally overestimated the strength and endurance of the Communist Party.

  17. leslie 2022-09-11 17:45

    red-neck grdz’ racist misinformation/propaganda surfaces again. he often forgets to “chameleon” here.

    misogynist too! the WORST kind of conservative Republican

  18. leslie 2022-09-11 17:54

    so intelligence communities of super powers are easy to fool? disinformation is the BIG TAKE AWAY! Our 250 years may end under the scurrilous efforts of our Trumpist SD elected and the other red state politicians.

    voters must cut thru the Bannon-esqe bullsheit, 24/7, 365!

  19. Jake 2022-09-11 19:30

    Grudz-Noem and her GOP people had an ulterior motive in flying the Lakota Nations flags UNDER the dome of the capital; if you can’t see the symbolism of the state of SD being “omni-powerfully over and above those flags” under its dome– you aren’t really as bright as your goat gathering professes to be.

  20. cibvet 2022-09-11 23:13

    Why lower the flag to half staff for any of these people? Lets send them thought,prayers and condolences like every sorry -a** politician
    sends out to parents of the dead kids. Common people have to feast on that crap, so let the blue-bloods do the same.

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