Michael M. Bates
May 10, 2005
Communism's victims deserve to be remembered
By Michael M. Bates

On a reviewing stand next to Lenin's tomb, President Bush watched as goose-stepping Russian soldiers paraded by with their hammer and sickle flags. It was a surreal moment. The threat of Communism was for many decades the defining geopolitical reality of our times.

The Cold War, the Iron Curtain, the gulags, show trials, re-education camps, the specter of nuclear annihilation, duck and cover drills at school and bomb shelters were all part of it. So were our military struggles in Korea and Vietnam, in which we lost more than 54,000 and 58,000 U.S. soldiers, respectively.

Communism would bury us, the Soviet dictator haughtily proclaimed. We and other nations responded with increasingly powerful arsenals. Maintaining the strongest possible military preparedness wasn't cheap, but our very existence was in jeopardy.

Mr. Bush was in Moscow for celebrations commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Allies defeating Nazi Germany. Victory over the Nazis was indispensable. They were led by a depraved monster whose crimes against humanity will never be forgotten.

That's as it should be. Schools still teach about the estimated six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. They educate children in the despotic evil of Nazism.

At the same time, it should also be remembered that Hitler, with an estimated ten million deaths attributed to him, wasn't the biggest killer of the 20th Century. He didn't even rank second.

China's Mao Zedong and Russia's Joseph Stalin are the greatest mass murderers in history. They weren't, like Hitler and his Nazis, national socialists. No, they were international socialists supposedly devoted to human liberation but in fact dedicated to the extermination of anyone deviating an iota from the often changing party line.

The authoritative "Black Book of Communism Crimes, Terror and Repression" provides the following estimates:

    USSR 20 million deaths

    China 65 million deaths

    Vietnam 1 million

    North Korea 2 million deaths

    Cambodia 2 million deaths

    Eastern Europe 1 million deaths

    Latin America 150,000 deaths

    Africa 1.7 million deaths

    Afghanistan 1.5 million deaths

Man-made famines and slave labor camp confinements were common causes of death, with Lenin and Stalin killing millions that way. In Chairman Mao's China, some people were reduced to cannibalism. Other methods used by Communist tyrants were hanging, poisoning, gassing, drowning and that old standby, firing squads.

I'm glad that President Bush linked his visit to Moscow with one to Latvia. That country, along with Lithuania and Estonia, was given to Stalin, courtesy of President Franklin Roosevelt, immediately after the war. They suffered under the yoke of Soviet domination for such a long time.

Lithuania's president outlined for the Associated Press Television News the grim reality: "We are happy that the Second World War is over on May 8, but May 9 is the beginning of 50 years of slavery." Mr. Bush rightly called what happened to the Baltic nations one of the greatest wrongs of history. For millions of people around the world and since its very inception, Communism has meant only slavery, deprivation and death for the masses.

The horrors of Communism are largely overlooked. It has failed miserably everywhere it's been established, but that isn't mentioned very often.

Self-styled intellectuals at colleges and universities never tire of explaining that Communism itself is not at fault, the problem is it's never really been tried. Posters and T-shirts emblazoned with the image of Che Guevara, who helped run Castro's firing squads, are sold by capitalists who very likely would have been targeted by firing squads if they tried to operate in Cuba.

So while Nazis are roundly and fittingly condemned, Communists are often seen as simply injudicious romantics who simply made a mistake or two. Or more accurately, about 100 million if you want to count their homicidal rampages.

Communism's victims merit more than a shrug and a yawn. As we recall the defeat of the Nazis, let's keep in mind that they represented just one of mankind's two supreme evils. The other still exists, and continues its ruthless legacy, in countries like China and Cuba.

This appears in the May 12, 2005, Oak Lawn (IL) Reporter.

© Michael M. Bates


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Michael M. Bates

Michael M. Bates has written a weekly column of opinion or nonsense, depending on your viewpoint since 1985 for the (southwest suburban Chicago) Reporter Newspapers... (more)

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