Sep. 23rd, 2017

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A monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the AK-47 automatic rifle, was unveiled a few days ago in Moscow.

The base of the monument depicts, in high relief, a number of infantry weapons inspired by the design of Kalashnikov's AK-47. It turns out the design along the base includes, as documented on Facebook by a former employee of the Great Patriotic War Central Museum, an exploded drawing of a German Sturmgewehr 44 (aka, StG 44), designed by Hugo Schmeisser and placed in production by the Germans in 1944.

According to the headline of the Russian-language article reporting this, the scupltor at first denied there was anything wrong (Мы пока не можем найти специалиста, который утверждает, что этот чертеж не АК-47 [We have not been able to find an expert who says this drawing is not that of an AK-47]) but later admitted the error, saying "...там, где мы ее брали, написано „Автомат Калашникова“. Что-то из интернета" ["...the place from which we got this—somewhere on the Internet—had labeled it the "Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle"].

Leaving aside the fact that this was not the first time the scuptor, one Salabat Shcherbakov, had permitted a German infantry weapon to appear on a Russian war monument, it does underscore the hazards of assuming (that word, again) the infallibility of the Internet.

On a somewhat related note, a couple of weeks ago, I read the following tweet:

Now, I don't know whether, with this tweet, the author is deliberately trying to fan the flames of fear, uncertainty, and doubt or is simply excessively lazy and proudly ignorant. A few seconds of Internet research would reveal the "AK" part of the weapon's designation to stand for автомат Калашникова, which are Russian words—which sorta makes sense, given the nationality of the designer and the country in which the weapon is in use, no?—that transliterate as avtomat Kalashnikova, i.e., "Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle." (And that "47 bullets per pull of the trigger" business? That suggests the author knowledge of firearms was gained by watching endless reruns of The A Team.)

So which strategy is better: Unquestioning acceptance of whatever you find on the Internet or a parochial adherence to ignorance and fabrication of "facts" to fit preconceived notions?

Me, I think both suck.



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