Following Joe Biden’s announcement of his all-female communications team, an old photo resurfaced on the internet showing one of his appointees in a Russian-style hammer-and-sickle hat.

The photo depicts Biden’s recently-appointed White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki in a pink ushanka (a Russian-style fur hat), adorned with the Communist hammer-and-sickle emblem.

She is flanked by then-Secretary of State John Kerry, and two Russian delegates: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

At the time, Psaki was serving as communications director under former President Barack Obama.

The photo has received fierce criticism from the right due to the bloodshed that resulted from the twentieth century reign of the Communistic regimes that the hammer-and-sickle represent.

USA TODAY called the allegations into question, writing a “fact-check” piece in which they declared, “Our ruling: Missing context.”

“The image is real,” USA TODAY wrote, “but claims that the hat was anything more (than) a gift or that Psaki was with Russian officials in any capacity beyond her official role are MISSING CONTEXT.”

Here is the context:

On January 13, 2014, Kerry and Psaki were in diplomatic meetings in Paris that preceded Geneva peace talks regarding the Syrian civil war. At said Parisian meetings, Kerry gifted Lavrov with two Idaho potatoes. In return, Lavrov and Zakharova gifted Psaki the pink ushanka.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a picture to Twitter, accompanied by a statement that the hat was a gift “to stay warm & fancy”.

According to a USA TODAY source, Psaki did not keep the hat.

The cries from the right that this is a sure sign that Communism will be reigning in the White House if Biden is ultimately declared victor are certainly an exaggeration. But the left’s attempts to downplay the photo is just as concerning.

In an article calling out culture’s hypocrisy in its contrary treatments of the hammer-and-sickle compared to the swastika, Richard Mason of the Foundation for Economic Freedom writes:

“To continue advocating communism despite its dismal track record is neither well-intentioned nor misguided; it is a deliberate attempt to push a provably dangerous ideology. The history of communism is as bloodstained as that of Nazism; much more so, actually. It’s time we treated it as such.”

Our governmental figures should exercise much greater caution in the emblems they display, and show more backbone in standing against dangerous and destructive political philosophies such as is represented by the hammer-and-sickle.

Perhaps Psaki was in a difficult diplomatic position. But you don’t see Lavrov holding Kerry’s potatoes in the photos. Perhaps Psaki could have declined to wear the hat. Perhaps that would have sent a strong message that despite any good feelings among the diplomats at the time, the United States would continue to remain a stalwart defender of freedom against any and all political philosophies that would threaten that freedom.

Would that we all have the backbone to stand for what is right.

Caitlin Bassett

Caitlin Bassett graduated from Liberty University in 2017 with her Bachelor's in Politics and Policy. She grew up in the great Pacific Northwest, but now calls Northern California home as she pursues ministry school.

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