A Memorial Day to Honor Victims of Communism – The World Must Never Forget
At the most recent Annual Meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), I had the privilege to sponsor one of the most consequential pieces of model policy of my ALEC tenure – the Victims of Communism Memorial Day Resolution. It passed unanimously among the members present at the meeting of the Task Force on Federalism and International Relations and was subsequently adopted by the ALEC Board. It is now official ALEC model policy and available to any and all visitors to the ALEC website. A press release announcing its adoption can be accessed here.
The resolution, which can be found here designates November 7 as Victims of Communism Memorial Day – a day to commemorate the more than 100 million victims who perished under communist regimes. Given the increasing popularity of socialism in America – especially among young people – designating a day to honor the victims of communist governments is not only the right thing to do but also good policy. A commemorative day offers an ideal teachable moment to educate new generations of Americans about the evils perpetrated in the name of communism and socialism – evils that continue to the present day.
These educational efforts are desperately needed. As the Cold War recedes into our national memory, socialism and communism are experiencing a resurgence. According to a 2016 Harvard University study, the majority of millennials do not support capitalism and a 2017 Victims of Communism Foundation survey found that more millennials would prefer to live in a socialist or communist society than in a capitalist one. In subsequent Harvard University polls, only respondents over the age of 50 evinced majority support for capitalism.
The movement to “rehabilitate” communism is evident in America’s political landscape. In the past two years, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has grown from 7,000 to 50,000 members. This newfound strength was apparent in this week’s midterms where 46 DSA candidates ran including four for the U.S. House of Representatives.
While capitalism’s deficiencies are on full display, including the 2008 financial collapse which some economists predict will have a lasting effect on the lifetime earnings of millennials, communism’s horrible legacy is largely forgotten, not fully understood and unacknowledged. Young American communists and socialists confuse “socialist” western European models with communism. They seem unaware that the strong social safety nets in those countries are made possible by robust capitalist economies and high taxes. They also fail to realize that relinquishing economic freedom often leads to the gutting of social and political freedom. The unfortunate truth is that communism continues to destroy people’s lives and national fortunes. Venezuela is a tragic case study – you can read more about Venezuela under Maduro here. There are echoes of communism in some of the populist movements proliferating rapidly around the globe. People seem all too willing to exchange liberty for a government’s promise to rein in the free markets to level the playing field.
Victims of Communism Memorial Day would create an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the brutalities of life under communism.
- Holodomor – a Soviet-manufactured famine taking place from 1932-1933 in Ukraine that resulted in the deaths of between 3.3 and 7.5 million Ukrainians.
- Khmer Rouge Killing Fields – policies of Cambodia’s Communist regime including starvation and mass executions that led to the deaths of one-quarter of the southeast Asian nation’s people from 1975-1979.
- Cultural Revolution also known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution – a movement launched in 1966 by Mao Zedong, Chairman of China’s Communist Party to purge what remained of capitalist and traditional elements in China to strengthen communism within the country leading to at least 3 million deaths and the suffering of at least 100 million according to China’s post-Mao leaders.
These are just a few of the lessons of Communism – lessons that Americans need to commit to memory and communicate to those that come after us. We need to ensure that our countrymen understand the cruelty wrought by communist regimes, and a day to honor the more than 100 million victims of this devastating mode of government is an excellent way to accomplish this.