Teach Your Children Well — About Communism - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Teach Your Children Well — About Communism

So, educating students about the dangers of communism is racist? Who knew?

Virginia Republicans recently introduced House Bill 1816 which would have declared November 7 — the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution — Victims of Communism Day. The bill stated that the day would be “suitably observed in each public elementary and secondary school in the Commonwealth as a day honoring the approximately 100 million individuals who have fallen victim to communist regimes around the world.” In addition, the Virginia Standards of Learning for history and social science would add “the study of the dangers of communism.”

But the root question is, why don’t these educators want kids to know about the evils of communism? Probably because it cuts too close to home.

Democrats squelched the proposal in committee, citing an argument from the Virginia Education Association, a teacher’s union, that observing Victims of Communism Day would “subject Asian-American students to anti-Asian sentiments,” because most communist regimes these days are in Asia.

News flash: most of the current victims of communism are also in Asia. If you really care about Asian lives, freeing those people is a good place to start.

American school kids are exposed to an increasing number of “awareness” days, weeks, or months for identity groups and progressive causes. At the same time, traditional American holidays are being eclipsed, attacked, and canceled. HB 1816 sought to add a valuable human rights-centered day that would stand alongside important Virginia educational efforts such as mandating teaching concerning “the causes and ramifications of the Holocaust and genocide.”

This is important. As the Cold War recedes in history, the lessons of the period are forgotten. The Free World victory becomes a footnote, and the contributions of principled leaders like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II are marginalized.

Even during that period, it was difficult to get educators, the press, and policy-makers to focus on the fundamental division between east and west, between totalitarianism and liberty, between the police state and democracy. Now that the progressives have nearly completed their long march through the institutions, those distinctions are actively scrubbed from history. This is no accident. A recent article in the American Intelligence Journal by John A. Gentry argues that this represents a “belated success” of the Soviet active measures campaigns designed to destabilize the U.S. from within. To the extent communism is taught at all in most American schools it is probably from a sympathetic point of view.

But education about communism is not just for history class. The crimes of communism are ongoing, in the PRC, North Korea, Cuba, and other countries that are either explicitly communist, or in all but name, such as Venezuela. Members of religious and ethnic groups, free thinkers, dissidents, artists, journalists, writers, and other people who have a sense of their inalienable right to freedom are thrown into prisons, tortured, drugged, or subjected to medical murder and organ harvesting. Even the people who are oppressed in their daily lives, not allowed to think or behave in ways not approved by the party, forbidden from pursuing their dreams of a better life, denied their cultural heritage, watched, judged, threatened and controlled at every turn — these too are victims of communism. This is happening every day, and if the communists had their way it would be happening everywhere. (MORE FROM JAMES S. ROBBINS: China’s Trial Balloon)

The effort also highlights a huge gap in current public-school curricula. Kids really do not know or understand what communism, socialism, and capitalism are, and how they affect their lives. A 2019 poll showed that about half of Millennial and Gen Z respondents would “prefer living in a socialist country.” (Right — go there and see how much you prefer it.) But paradoxically, the same poll showed this cohort gave 83 percent support for “free enterprise.” So this survey was not so much an endorsement of socialism as revealing the utter ignorance of basic political economy among American youngsters.

This brings us to the Virginia Education Association’s ridiculous argument that educating people about communism would somehow place Asian students at risk. There is no empirical reason to believe that this is true. The premise is muddy, and the conclusion is speculative. The fact that this facile argument came from educators should be particularly alarming. It is a sad, Twitter-era talking point in the service of intellectual censorship.

But the root question is, why don’t these educators want kids to know about the evils of communism? Probably because it cuts too close to home. Once children are given the critical thinking skills and factual grounding to recognize threats to their freedom, they will start seeing these threats all around them. They will begin to question the liberal doctrines and progressive orthodoxies they are being taught without any other frames of reference. They will understand the war being waged on the positive narrative of American history, and not only how it is being done, but why.

So naturally the left opposes Victims of Communism Day. The last thing in the world progressive educators want is a generation of young people who begin to push back on indoctrination and think for themselves. That is the point when the long march through the institutions begins its great retreat.

James S. Robbins is Dean of Academics at the Institute of World Politics and author of Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past.

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