I was raised in the US, and in the 1950's we were taught that we, the US, beat the Nazis but that so did the Russians. It wasn't talked about too much, but the WWII movies that saturated 1950's TV covered the Russians as US allies, which they were.
Of course, the Cold War was on and the Russian Bolsheviks were hated as the new replacement-enemy, replacing the Nazis. The Iron Curtain went up, and news from behind it was extremely difficult to obtain. Therefore, the US media could say anything it wanted to without anyone else being able to fact check any of it.
I believe the Bolsheviks were really hard, but I came to know that US imperialism had a big hand in that hardening. People felt they had to be extremely tough and even ruthless to ward off being completely dominated by that imperialism.
I still don't agree with the Bolsheviks, with Lenin, with Stalin, but I don't agree with the US putting down every attempt at democratic socialism either.
The Bolsheviks were for democracy to the exclusion of all but the "workers" Soviets (something akin to town hall "democratic" meetings mostly by the industrial-working-class revolutionaries). That was their ultimate downfall. The US didn't limit itself to fighting against Bolshevism though.
The US fought against every form of real grassroots-democracy where it could get away with it and by any means deemed necessary to win. That will be the downfall of the US if it continues down that path.
The US false-propaganda machine always lumped all real democratic efforts in with the worst of the worst of the Bolsheviks. Gullible and kept-ignorant Americans bought it.
Those who knew better were blacklisted or kept silent in public and were even very careful in private.
The current iteration of Russophobia is up to the exact same tricks and almost for exactly the same reasons. The new Nazis and new Bolsheviks now are the everyday, regular Russians. It's more insane than ever. The everyday, regular, Russians are no threat, unless threatened first, which they have been, repeatedly. That goes for Putin too.
The smartest thing the US can do is to knock it off, make friends, and be open, honest, and direct with Russia and its citizens.