Monday, March 04, 2013

America's Tragic Ignorance About Communism

...Nowadays, Communism is seen as more of a punch line than a threat. You probably have an uncle on Facebook who is always ranting that Obama is a Communist, and he probably types in all caps and embarrasses your family.

Or maybe you were taught in school that the “Red Scare” of the mid-20th-century was a shameful period in our nation’s history. You probably read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and heard “McCarthyism” compared to the Salem Witch Trials.

In college, a wise, bearded professor may have explained that Communism got a bad rap. Maybe he even had you read some carefully chosen passages from Marx, and you thought, “This doesn’t sound so bad! It sounds fair and reasonable!”

And then maybe you saw a movie, like Good Night and Good Luck, and felt outraged by the injustice of blacklisting in Hollywood – all those innocent people accused of Communism and their careers destroyed!

The truth, unfortunately, sounds like something written by a conspiracy theorist in a tinfoil hat. The truth is that Communists really did infiltrate the government and institutions of higher learning. The truth is that many entertainers really were Communist spies and sympathizers. The extent of the infiltration is vast and complex.

The Venona papers, released in 1995, revealed detailed communiques between Moscow and her spies in our government. You have probably never heard of the Venona papers.

The truth is that you have personally been influenced by Communism, precisely because Communists wanted you to be.

How many people were killed in the Holocaust? What was the name of the evil Nazi doctor at Auschwitz? Name two concentration camps.

You could probably answer all three of those without too much effort. Try these:

How many people were killed in the Great Terror? Who was the founder and first leader of the Red Army? Approximately how many Gulag slave labor camps were there in the USSR?

My guess is you can’t answer more than one of those questions, if that many. (For the record: anywhere from 13 to 20 million; Leon Trotsky; about 30,000.)

In high school, I was assigned one novel about the Russian Gulag: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Beyond that, I don’t recall ever learning much about the horror that was Soviet Russia.

I was shown multiple documentaries on Hitler, the Third Reich, and the concentration camps. I was inundated with literature about the Holocaust and how evil it was, from The Diary of Anne Frank to Elie Wiesel’s Night to Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. I should have been taught these things. I’m glad that I was.

I was an attentive student. I wanted to learn. But at the age of 30, with 13 years of public school education and two years of public college under my belt, I knew next to nothing about the horrors of Communism in the USSR and beyond. All I “knew” is that we were the bad guys in Viet Nam, and our shameful history should serve as a cautionary tale. I didn’t know how/when China fell to Communism. I didn’t know what happened in Venezuela, Chile, or Cuba. I didn’t know what the GRU was, or who Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss were, or about the relationship between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union…

Don't stop here. Read the entirety of Kristen Hatten's excellent column, "Communism: What you don’t know is killing the unborn." It's right here at Live Action.