Estimates are all over the place, but it's now beyond dispute that Soviet policies in the 1930s led to the deaths of somewhere between 7 and 12 million Ukrainians (about the equivalent to killing every person in Michigan today). It's one of the greatest horrors in world history. The world knew little about the Ukrainian famine at the time. When independent journalists tried to get news out about the atrocity, they were accused of promoting conspiracy theories. Sound familiar? The New York Times, whose Moscow bureau led efforts to protect the Soviet Union and crush dissenting viewpoints, has since apologized for its role in suppressing news about the famine. Based on the media's handling of COVID-19 reporting today, however, it's clear we have forgotten any lessons once learned about the dangers of suppressing ideas and dissent on unproven matters the way the Times did to such tragic effect all those decades ago.

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It's sort of shocking that a series of left-wing riots around the nation followed by a right-wing riot at our Capitol building haven't caused much self-reflection among the policymakers in Washington. It's convenient to think this is just some tiny group of crazies or this is all going to blow over. We have been thinking that way for years now. It's not true. Our once-great country is in a huge slide. Too many fellow citizens are hurting. Too many communities around the country are shells of their former vibrant selves. All this is a screaming wake-up call for change, yet we don't have any serious efforts underway to reform our system.

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President Joe Biden could have focused on any issue he wanted in his inaugural address. His base would have loved the whole thing to be about climate change or racial justice. Biden touched on some of these policy issues, but he focused most of his address on something totally different: national unity.

If anyone reading this doesn't believe that Biden correctly identified the issue of our time, I'm not even sure what to say. It's issue one, two and three.

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It's been obvious for quite a while that our country is coming apart at the seams. People on all sides are upset, and they want to punish their political opponents. We aren't able to disagree in a productive way. We demonize one another; we are too partisan; and we are definitely too angry. This isn't unique to the right or the left. It's all of us.

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Attention readers: Neil Patel is off this week. Please enjoy the following column by Salena Zito.

COOK FOREST, Pennsylvania -- It has just finished snowing here, and the forest looks magical, draped in white. It takes on a silvery blue shine under the blue sky that emerged after the storm finished leaving its mark. The silence is soon broken by the crunching of snowshoes off in the distance.

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Neil Patel is off this week, Veronique de Rugy is filling in his place.

President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden are quite different from each other. It is obvious in their personalities and in their policy positions. So, we can reasonably assume that their White House management styles will also be radically different. One thing is for sure: No matter how the new administration is managed, there will be some internal conflict.

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Attention readers: Neil Patel is off this week. Please enjoy the following column by Veronique de Rugy.

There's no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted childhood education. In many countries, kids have physically returned to school. In others, schools were never closed. Yet in the United States, many public schools have been closed since March, yielding disastrous results for millions of kids. While scientific data say it's safe to bring them back, incentives in the school systems are such that many kids continue to be locked up at home rather than receiving a proper education.

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It's not alarmist to state that the future of our country could be defined by the two Georgia Senate races. We are in an existential moment, and it sure feels like we are floating through it in a daze, without the sense of urgency you would expect if the entire future of your country were on the line. We just had a tough election, but for those who care about our future, it's past time to wake up from the daze.

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There is a lot of talk these days about conspiracies. A huge number of Americans are prone to believing some pretty wild stuff. This is true on the left, where a large number of people never stopped believing that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the White House from Hillary Clinton. This is also true on the right, where a large number of people believe that Trump is not just a president but also the leader of a war against a secret group of pedophiles who run the world. None of this is very healthy.

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Attention readers: Neil Patel is off this week. Please enjoy the following column by William Murchison.

And on ... and on ...

... And, yes! One fine day, as with the Noah family's detention on the ark, the damndemic will cease, desist, vanish, take a powder. Masks will disappear in the trash can. Americans will pass days and weeks without a virus-inspired reflection on medical experts or D. J. Trump.

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One of the most memorable scenes in the "Hunger Games" books and movies is when the poor kids from the outer districts take the train into the glimmering capital. There they see affluence and decadence completely foreign to them in their poor, hyperregulated homelands. It's all fiction, of course, but it's not too far from what we are actually seeing in coronavirus-ridden America 2020.

In case after case, we are seeing public officials completely flout the rules they are imposing on their own constituents. It's never been clearer that we are devolving into some sort of tiered society with different laws and regulations depending on your station in life. Politicians and top business executives can fly around on private planes, book private dinners and continue with their lives, while regular Americans see stricter and stricter lockdowns and mandates.

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Every single American should want the recount process to play out so the states can properly certify the presidential election. We have had an election, but that certification hasn't happened yet. The biggest problem we have in our country today is a lack of trust. The president's supporters voted him into office in 2016 largely because they had lost faith in our country's political leaders and institutions. You may agree or disagree with the merits of that motivation, but you can't deny its reality. From Washington ignoring the opioid crisis until it ravaged huge numbers of families to its seeming lack of regard for the economic stagnation felt by too many of our citizens to the massive numbers of public servants that directly cash out of government and into the corporate influence business, the loss of faith in Washington has been driving a good share of our politics for years now.

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Throughout this election, there were signs of the birth of a coalition of normal people unhappy with the radical turns our country has been taking. Regardless of how the presidential race turns out, the potential political realignment is unmistakable. Hispanic and blue-collar workers are shifting noticeably away from the overtures of the left-wing, "defund the police" crowd. I'm not sure who thought violence and looting in the streets of so many of our cities would have no political repercussions, but it did, and it brought regular Americans together in a way that bodes well for the future.

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Nobody knows how the election will turn out, but we can say with confidence that this is the first election where so many trusted authorities in our country have tried to tip the scales so hard. Regardless of the outcome, the partisan unfairness we have seen through this election cycle will further erode what we need most in our country: a renewal of trust. Trust is down in almost every national institution. When the people don't trust government, private business, educational institutions and the media, our country becomes less stable. But those bemoaning the erosion of trust spend little time talking about how much the institutions in question have earned the lower regard they now hold.

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Attention readers: Neil Patel is off this week. Please enjoy the following column by David Harsanyi.

First, Joe Biden's Praetorian Guard in the media argued that the New York Post's Hunter Biden scoop was "Russian disinformation." The DOJ, FBI and DNI each publicly disagreed. No one in the Biden camp has denied the veracity of a single email thus far. Yet, as of this writing, the Post's Twitter account is still frozen, and most major news outlets won't report the story.

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The New York Post's breaking news of emails purporting to show Hunter Biden scheming to make money off the family name has created a social media firestorm. Twitter began blocking users from sharing it almost instantly. Facebook didn't block the story outright, but they did announce almost immediately that they were "reducing its distribution on our platform." Even for the most sober observer, it sure seems like the social media platforms are interfering with the free flow of information relevant to our election. This is all the more so when you consider that stories critical of President Donald Trump, such as the anonymous leaks of his taxes, were not similarly blocked or throttled.

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