Discussion: (26 comments)
Comments are closed.
A public policy blog from AEI
View related content: Carpe Diem
That’s the title of a recent op-ed in The Harvard Crimson written by Harvard student Laura M. Nicolae, whose father at age 26 left his parents, friends, and neighbors behind when he escaped the oppressive Romanian Communist regime in 1988 to eventually come to the United States. Here’s an excerpt below and you can read the entire commentary here.
Roughly 100 million people died at the hands of the ideology my parents escaped. They cannot tell their story. We owe it to them to recognize that this ideology is not a fad, and their deaths are not a joke.
Last month marked 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution, though college culture would give you precisely the opposite impression. Depictions of communism on campus paint the ideology as revolutionary or idealistic, overlooking its authoritarian violence. Instead of deepening our understanding of the world, the college experience teaches us to reduce one of the most destructive ideologies in human history to a one-dimensional, sanitized narrative.
Walk around campus, and you’re likely to spot Ché Guevara on a few shirts and button pins. A sophomore jokes that he’s declared a secondary in “communist ideology and implementation.” The new Leftist Club on campus seeks “a modern perspective” on Marx and Lenin to “alleviate the stigma around the concept of Leftism.” An author laments in these pages that it’s too difficult to meet communists here. For many students, casually endorsing communism is a cool, edgy way to gripe about the world.
After spending four years on a campus saturated with Marxist memes and jokes about communist revolutions, my classmates will graduate with the impression that communism represents a light-hearted critique of the status quo, rather than an empirically violent philosophy that destroyed millions of lives. Statistics show that young Americans are indeed oblivious to communism’s harrowing past. According to a YouGov poll, only half of millennials believe that communism was a problem, and about a third believe that President George W. Bush killed more people than Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who killed 20 million. If you ask millennials how many people communism killed, 75 percent will undershoot.
The stories of survivors paint a more vivid picture of communism than the textbooks my classmates have read. While we may never fully understand all of the atrocities that occurred under communist regimes, we can desperately try to ensure the world never repeats their mistakes. To that end, we must tell the accounts of survivors and fight the trivialization of communism’s bloody past.
My father left behind his parents, friends, and neighbors in the hope of finding freedom. I know his story because it is my heritage; you now know his story because I have a voice. One hundred million other people were silenced. One hundred years later, let us not forget the history of the victims who do not have a voice because they did not survive the writing of their tales. Most importantly, let us not be tempted to repeat it.
MP: Laura Nicolae’s essay is a great testament to what attracts people from around the world to America, “the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without the benefit of kings or dictator,” and thus “the marvel and the mystery of the world.” And maybe even more importantly, it’s a great reminder for today’s millennials and college students that socialism and communism are extremely lethal, toxic, fatal and deadly ideologies and should never be romanticized or glamorized.
Exhibit A: From the Wall Street Journal in October 2016 (and it’s gotten much worse over the last year) about how socialism in Venezuela is now killing more babies than war:
In the first five months of 2016—the latest period for which government statistics are available—4,074 babies in Venezuela died before reaching a year, up 18.5% from the period last year and more than 50% from that period of 2012. Venezuela’s overall infant mortality rate—defined as deaths within the first year of life—is currently 18.6 per 1,000 live births, according to the most recent government statistics. That is well beyond the upper range of 15.4 Unicef estimates for war-torn Syria.
Comments are closed.
1789 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036
© 2018 American Enterprise Institute