"A Bolshevik in swim goggles." That's how journalist Matthew Futterman yesterday described swimming gold medal winner Missy Franklin.
By nightfall, more than 150 bloggers had picked up that description, and my Google search produced some bizarre mash-ups: "Investigators have closed an investigation into the shooting by Bolshevik revolutionaries of Russia's last Tsar Nicholas II and his ... Missy Franklin."
What makes Missy of Colorado a Bolshevik, a la Lenin? Well, according to Futterman, "She has resisted all temptation to cash in on her talent and swim professionally. 'I really, really want to swim in college,' she told the Journal earlier this year."
Is that the Trotsky Journal? No, it's The Wall Street Journal, defender of capitalism. Remind me: What makes Missy a Bolshevik? Well, according to WSJ writer Futterman, "She wants to remain an amateur …. She doesn't come from a state that's on anyone's list of swimming hotbeds. … [She] stuck with her original coach."
Hmm. Sounds like a traditionalist, one blogger wrote. Has Missy been a mass murderer, like Bolshevik Stalin? What was Futterman thinking?
The Wall Street Journal quickly ran corrections: "Missy Franklin didn't attend a lunch her parents attended with a swimming-industry agent in 2011. An early version of this article stated that she did. The article also stated Franklin's father, Richard, isn't comfortable in the water. It is Franklin's mother who isn't comfortable in the water. "
No correction of the Bolshevik tag, though. Unless Missy's 17-year-old giggle hides a streak of murderous ruthlessness, Futterman's blithe use of the term indicates historical myopia.
Bosheviks emphasized class hatred as Nazis emphasized racial hatred, and ended up murdering as many or more. Not a cute name to throw around.