They don’t teach that in school anymore, but Paul Kengor and Regnery Publishing do what they can to compensate in what is bound to be a growth industry.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Regnery Publishing has released The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism: The Killingest Idea Ever. If you’re nor familiar with the Politically Incorrect Guides, it’s a series designed to correct the biases and inaccuracies that tend to creep into books on history, politics, and religion. Depending on the subject, the author may add a touch of humor to the narrative. But The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism is never lighthearted or humorous because there’s nothing funny about Communist regimes.
The author is Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a frequent contributor to this publication. Kengor also travels to other colleges to deliver guest lectures. One of his most popular is entitled “Why Communism Is Bad.”
Now, readers of The American Spectator know why Communism is bad, but Professor Kengor says he runs into quite a few college kids who know nothing about the outrages Communists have inflicted — and still inflict — upon the world. And he thinks he knows why there is glaring gap in his students’ education: high school and college faculties are top-heavy with teachers who describe themselves as liberal or progressive. Traditionally, people of that political persuasion have a higher tolerance for Communism’s claim that it will create a glorious new world order. Of course, a left-leaning instructor who decided to teach on course on the history of Communism might encounter some awkward moments in the classroom: the students might get around to asking pesky questions about the body count that runs to the tens of millions, the suppression of basic human rights, the enslavement of entire nations… you get the idea.
So Kengor and Regnery teamed up to create a book that would give students a solid introduction to the nightmare produced by Communists over the last century, and those places where that nightmare is still going strong.
In the tradition of the Politically Incorrect Guides, an important feature of the book is correcting misinformation, some of which has been circulating for years. For example, the Left has asserted that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were not spies but martyrs, victims of anti-Communist hysteria back in 1950s, that their trial for treason was a farce and their execution a travesty. Except it wasn’t. Nikita Khrushchev was present when Molotov told Stalin, “the Rosenbergs had vastly aided our production of the atomic bomb.”
Then there’s Che Guevara, the poster boy — literally — of the Cuban Revolution. He was photogenic. But he was also a cold-hearted killer who delighted in binge-watching executions. He enjoyed them even more if he was the executioner.
Remember Ronald Reagan’s speech in which he denounced the Soviet Union as “an evil empire”? The press and the pundits mocked and derided him as “unsophisticated.” But he was right. The Soviet Union caused death and misery on an unprecedented scale across what had been the vast empire of the czars, and then into Eastern and Central Europe. That’s evil. So, why do the sophisticates shrug it off?
Sadly there have always been Americans willing to excuse, to minimize, to look the other way rather than acknowledge Communist regimes for being the killing machines they are. These are the folks who turned a blind eye as first Lenin and then Stalin all-but-exterminated the supposedly better-off Russian peasants known as kulaks. During World War II they called Stalin “Uncle Joe.” They wore their Che T-shirt while they read Mao’s Little Red Book. They cheered for the Viet Cong. More recently, some even sneered at Otto Warmbier, the college student who was horribly mistreated in a North Korean prison and then sent home to die. By the way, Lenin had an expression for people like this — he called them “useful idiots.”
I’d like to see The Politically Correct Guide to Communism used in high schools and colleges. And perhaps a few conservative teachers will put it on the syllabus. It is a chronicle of evil, and although Kengor is not graphic there are some things that are tough to read. But it’s important to read and know this history.
Besides, every copy that sells reduces the number of useful idiots.
Thomas J. Craughwell is the author of Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée.
Lenin’s Tomb (Robert Lawton/Creative Commons)