Letters to the Editor: How Florida and Texas anti-LGBTQ laws emulate Soviet surveillance

A smiling Gov. Ron DeSantis holes a signed bill surrounded by schoolchildren.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis displays a signed copy of what critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” on March 28.
(Douglas R. Clifford / Associated Press)

To the editor: My father spent 14 months in Soviet labor camps during World War II, so I know something about how totalitarian regimes operate.

I was quite moved by Paulina Porizkova’s April 1 op-ed article on her traumatic childhood experiences in Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia. Her description of the pervasive fear that children could report their own parents and grandparents for certain language or behaviors was especially chilling.

This is not unlike what many families and teachers must be feeling right now in Florida and Texas. Under the recent anti-gay and anti-transgender laws passed in those two states, they too must be afraid that they can now be reported to the authorities.


One cannot escape the shocking irony of two American states emulating the Soviet Union.

Steve Tarzynski, Santa Monica


To the editor: In 1939, I was a 6-year-old child when Russia invaded my country. My mother was a teacher in a small town.

During the occupation, the communist party sent my mother red kerchiefs and told her to organize the young pioneers, the youth communist movement that Porizkova mentions in her piece. My mother put all the kerchiefs away and did not do any organizing. We all thought how principled and brave she was.

Later, I realized she did put all our family in danger. As it was, we missed being shipped to Siberia in the June 1941 purges by few hours. Our family’s name was on the list, likely because of our mother’s actions.

I still believe she was incredibly principled and brave, and probably scared. And over the years I wondered, how would I have acted in those circumstances?

Danute Handy, Santa Barbara


To the editor: Porizkova gives a moving and discerning description of growing up, as a fish unable to perceive the water in which it swims, in a pervasive pool of propaganda. To see it one must leave, then look back.

Similarly, most Americans cannot see the propaganda saturating our media, altering our minds, creating beliefs and pushing behaviors unimaginable a mere generation ago.

I of course refer to the many millions buying into the Trump-QAnon fantasy world, but I refer even more directly to the woke, anticolonial theory, quasi-religious system of belief that now sweeps across America like a blanket of smog from a 19th century smokestack during a temperature inversion.

It is this smothering blanket of propaganda to which the right refers when they dismissively snort “mainstream media.”

Chuck Almdale, North Hills