Call it the latest in proof positive some Millennials are hell-bent on being ignorant and brash, but they did all they could to live up to their poor reputation earlier in March. A group of Millennials denigrated the Victims of Communism (VOC) Memorial on Capitol Hill, taking photos of themselves flipping it the middle finger, then posting and bragging about their slimy conduct on social media.
— PARTISANNEXTDOOR (@BlackAutonomist) March 26, 2017
with the lads at the victims of communism memorial pic.twitter.com/fsFxcSxup5
— YHWH (@TankMaster5000) March 26, 2017
Millions of people have been murdered, tortured, and persecuted by communist dictators like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Fidel Castro. The memorial was built to honor those innocent lives. The front pedestal reads, “To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty.”
Several Twitter accounts related to the incident link to the website of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a socialist-third party that believes “the only solution to the deepening crisis of capitalism is the socialist transformation of society.”
This seems to go hand in hand with what we already know Millennials believe about communism as an ideology to be admired. In October, VOC released a survey which gauged Americans’ attitudes toward socialism, communism, and related ideas.
We knew Millennials, born in 1982-2002, had a thing for Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., but the VOC survey showed they embraced much more than just a grandfatherly version of an American-Socialist.
This was not only shocking about their present views, but revealing about their previous or current history education. Marion Smith, executive director of the VOC told me on the phone that the March incident not only “shows a callous disrespect of innocent lives sacrificed,” but unfortunately ties in with how rabidly Millennials have embraced communism. “I think incidents like this are made more likely because so many people don’t understand history. They don’t understand Mao and Stalin are mass murderers. They don’t know about the crimes committed by people of these communist regimes. They don’t understand the human misery as a real fact of history.”
What’s the appeal of dangerous ideologies like this to Millennials? Smith told me, “Many students are taught that the alternative to a free enterprise system is a form of socialism. A marxist interpretation of society. If you don’t like capitalism, the obvious alternative in most people’s minds is some form of marxist faith.”
This type of ignorance stems from a lack of education, and in some cases our nation’s cultural slide. But it is exactly what progressives — even Marxists — wanted in order to implement their policies. Millennials have become the type of de facto voter base socialist leaders cater to and ultimately exploit via everything from propaganda to crimes against humanity. If a person has little knowledge of historical perspective, and is therefore vulnerable and willing to agree with any ideological talking point that comes their way in a pretty package, that person is an easy target to woo, to turn into a fanatical zealot, and to then wittingly or unwittingly participate in the types of crimes these very leaders committed. Multiply that by thousands and you have a Katyn massacre on your hands — not because people always knew or were complicit (innocent people should not take the blame), but because evil dictators exploited ignorance and filled empty minds with their twisted ideology.
The only way to stop this trend is to cut it off where it begins: education. It’s imperative we press for a more expansive, clarifying education of global history to high school and college students so they are informed about how communism actually played out in various cultures. VOC has made significant efforts to that end, but more must be done.
Since studies show high-schoolers and collegiates don’t know basic facts about world history, let alone the staggering atrocities communist regimes committed, they offer a supplemental curriculum to aid teachers in educating students about this specific topic. A few minutes watching the videos within their “Witness,” project–stories of survivors of communism–might provide valuable perspective for some Millennials still touting Marx as a mentor. “The danger of forgetting history is it opens up what is acceptable in our politics,” reminds Smith. “The language of violence that is so much a part of certain ideologies.” Let’s do what we can to educate our young people, even Millennials, so this doesn’t happen again and so history does not forget those brutally murdered by communist regimes.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to Conservative Review and a writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Federalist, The American Spectator, Reason, National Review Online, and Parents magazine. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator’s Young Journalist award. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and four children. You can follow her on Twitter @nmrussell2.