Excused Horrors

While often comparing their ideological opponents to Hitler, many leftists also tend to idealize the lives of mass-murderers Che Guevara and Mao Zedong as well. Why the massive disconnect?
Walter-williams

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasurable task of being Master of Ceremonies for the Atlas Economic Research Foundation dinner in Washington, D.C., that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Founded in 1981, the Atlas Foundation assists the formation of free market think tanks around the world to spread the ideas of personal liberty, private property rights and limited government. So far, they have been successful in at least 70 countries. Attending the two-day celebration were think-tank representatives from many of these countries, including those from Croatia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, South Korea, Russia and Brazil.

Alan Kors, University of Pennsylvania history professor, gave the evening's keynote address. What he revealed about the dereliction and character weakness of academics, intellectuals, media elites and politicians is by no means complimentary, but worse than that, dangerous.

Professor Kors said that over the years, he has frequently asked students how many deaths were caused by Joseph Stalin and Mao Tsetung and their successors. Routinely, they gave numbers in the thousands. Kors says that's equivalent to saying the Nazis are responsible for the deaths of just a few hundred Jews. But here's the record: Nazis were responsible for the deaths of 20 million of their own people and those in nations they conquered.

Between 1917 and 1983, Stalin and his successors murdered, or were otherwise responsible for the deaths of, 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, Mao Tsetung and his successors were responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese.

Professor Kors asks why are the horrors of Nazism so well known and widely condemned, but not those of socialism and communism? For decades after World War II, people have hunted down and sought punishment for Nazi murderers. How much hunting down and seeking punishment for Stalinist and Maoist murderers? In Europe, especially Germany, hoisting the swastika-emblazoned Nazi flag is a crime. It's acceptable to hoist and march under a flag emblazoned with the former USSR's hammer and sickle.

Even in the U.S., it's acceptable to praise mass murderers, as Anita Dunn, President Obama's communications director, did in a commencement address for St. Andrews Episcopal High School at Washington National Cathedral where she said Mao Tsetung was one of her heroes. Whether it's the academic community, the media elite or politicians, there is a great tolerance for the ideas of socialism -- a system that has caused more deaths and human misery than all other systems combined.
           
Academics, media elites and leftist politicians both in the U.S. and Europe protested the actions and military buildup of President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and ultimately the breakup of the Soviet Union. Recall the leftist hissy fit when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the evil empire and predicted that communism would wind up on the trash heap of history.
          
Professor Alan Kors did not say this but the reason why the world's leftists give the world's most horrible murderers a pass is because they sympathize with their socioeconomic goals, which include government ownership and/or control over the means of production. In the U.S., the call is for government control, through regulations, as opposed to ownership. Unfortunately, it matters little whether there is a Democratically or Republican-controlled Congress and White House; the march toward greater government control continues. It just happens at a quicker pace with Democrats in charge.
           
You say, "Come on, Williams, there will never be the kind of socialist oppression seen elsewhere here!" You might be right because Americans have become very compliant with unconstitutional and immoral congressional edicts. But what do you think would happen if some Americans began to rise up and heed Thomas Jefferson's admonition "Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force." and decided to disobey unconstitutional congressional edicts?

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He has authored more than 150 publications, including many in scholarly journals, and has frequently given expert testimony before Congressional committees on public policy issues ranging from labor policy to taxation and spending.

10 comments from readers  

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I'm always pleased to find numbers in this sort of article. My friends on opposing ends of the bi-polar, two-party teeter-totter in American politics throw slogans at each other and quote entertainers. I prefer to present facts and numbers, and Williams here provides me more ammunition. I posted this article to my Facebook account for my network to consider.
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Any government but the most limited government, which in our case is constitutional government, always relies on the brutal use of force to gain the compliance of all the People. Socialism, not excepting its claims to support the General Welfare, will always brutally suppress the individual because individuals are complex and unique. The needs and values of such unique and individualistic people cannot be met by socialism, so they must be suppressed.
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Well said.

I think that leftists also give socialists a pass, as opposed to standard dictators, because socialists *promise* (but never actually implement) that the ruling class will be chosen by merit. A garden-variety despot is actually more honest in this regard.


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You say, "But what do you think would happen if some Americans began to rise up and heed Thomas Jefferson's admonition..."

That's a big if, and maybe our only hope. We desperately need a way to recall congress-creatures and corrupt judges and presidents. Congress is supposed to do this but has systematically neglected its duty. Elections are too infrequent, and the voting districts too engineered.
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We used to have a dog named "Indiana," named for the famous character, who hated snakes. Indiana was completely blind to snakes. Time and again, when taking walks with Indiana we would come across snakes, and the dog was militantly blind to their presence. This was much like the "liberal" unwillingness or inability to see the difference between force and charity.

"Liberals" have great concern about guns in the hands of private citizens, and are completely blind to the history of guns in the hands of government.

Go Figure!
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It is easy to criticize and it is popular to play "isn't it awful." What is needed are specific solutions to specific problems with the general attitude that is leading us to oblivion and the eventual list along with the Inca and Aztec civilizations.
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Dr. Williams: Marvelous column! However, and I am totally in agreement with you, you are beating a dead horse. I am an ardent advocate of Objectivism, in a small university city in Ontario, Canada, and the few professors that I have met have all leaned to the left. I have met people who generally agree with me, but invariably with reservations. What about poor people? What about poor, sick people? What about Robber Barons?

They fear Freedom, therefore feel that a 'regulated Freedom' (they think) protects against those perceived abuses. After 233 years of Franklin and Jefferson's United States, you would think the people would have had enough sense not to elect Marxist Obama. That they didn't, and even now, even if suspicious, really don't understand what is happening to their country.

Is Obama's America able to save the world, or even willing to try? There is no other firewall against socialist slavery on earth, and with America sinking fast, time is rapidly running out. I am glad that I am old. Where is the Supreme Court? Who is defending the Constitution? Why is Obama able to subvert it?
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Excellent point. We here Norway had a strong group of students coming out the 60/ 70ties. They formed a party and hailed Mao, Pol Pot and restored Stalin as a great leader, when all the atrocities were known. Their party has never received more 1% +, but they infiltrated schools, the press, all kinds of institutions, and just recently were behind an attempt to have a university (NTNU) boycott Israel. If you remind them about their support to despotisms, they will mention Hitler, as if he is your man. I am an active friend of Israel, they support PLO and Hamas, who have in their charters that the Jews should be exterminated in these times. Who is supporting the Nazis?
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The failure of socialism is unjustly blamed on the success of western Democracy & capitalism. The leftist anti-intellectuals denial of the reality of socialism's victims has now grown larger as even more proof comes to light. This increased denial becomes so great that it draws unwanted attention to itself. The moment of moral crisis we are now facing forces people to check their premises or blank out. The same leftist anti-intellectuals who refuse to acknowledge reality now turn to more force as their final solution. But the left's lust for unlimited power will be their undoing since reality always prevails.
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That's it, class envy is alive and well in the US of A. Socialists know they can always tap into it.

While Hitler hurt "little guys and moneybags alike" so to speak, the others were achieving the fantasy of the masses by (supposedly!) redistributing the wealth.

In the 1970s a broken-spirited Vietnamese diplomat confessed to me the root of his despair: "People would rather have equality than liberty."

We free-thinkers have a big job at hand: to change people's way of looking at things, so they won't think of "hope" as getting a bigger piece of somebody else's pie, but rather as getting the opportunity to make the pie bigger for everybody.
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I really like Mr. Williams - a lot.

With that said, I think people like Mr Williams miss two things.

1) We (I include myself to be of similar thought as Mr Williams) need to discuss more outside our circle of like minded people if we want to change hearts and minds to stop whirlwind of US socialism.

2) A unfortunate by-product of the progressive hi-jacking of the educational system is the inability for most people to convert abstract thoughts and ideas into concrete actions. If we want to make a real difference - which will only happen by educating people who want to understand but do not -- we need to connect the dots for the readers. My example of this comes from last election when I spoke to people who bought into the class envy Obama spewed. I simply asked people who believed in the redistribution of wealth to say to me, "they are more entitled to fruits of my labor than I am. And if you think it noble to redistribute the wealth, just take it, just do it. Don't hide behind politicians or legislation - if you think you should have what I earned, take it from me. At least man up and come get it."

Needless to say, people were shocked when I explained - that is what redistribution of wealth means, how do you think it gets from me to others? And...while most are giddy at the thought of having their hand in the pocket of the person above them, they are distracted from the hand that is in their pocket from the person below them. I never ran across a person I could not teach why redistribution of wealth was wrong.

Great writers like Mr Williams could do a lot of educating dialing the abstracts down to the concrete actions.
To post comments, please log in first. The Atlasphere is a social networking site for admirers of Ayn Rand's novels, most notably The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In addition to our online magazine, we offer a member directory and a dating service. If you share our enjoyment of Ayn Rand's novels, please sign up or log in to post comments.