Recent events are unsettling. They demonstrate how disconnected from history some have become. They demonstrate why law enforcement is important, even as we aim for higher accountability. They represent a rare educational moment, teaching that “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” depend on defending law, order, and history.
In the past three weeks, what began as peaceful marches for racial equality were overtaken by organized criminality and violent ideological groups and actions.
Criminals destroyed urban businesses and private property. Ideological radicals – united by anarchist behavior, communist sympathies, and anti-American sentiments –defaced, toppled, desecrated, and destroyed public property.
Criminal and radical leftist groups have emerged in dozens of cities, taking over extended city blocks, toppling historic statues across the South, but also statues of Francis Scott Key, President Ulysses S. Grant, Union leaders and American Founders.
These ideological radicals – many supported by left-leaning city councils, mayors, governors, and members of Congress – have widened their target list. Like Jacobins of the French Revolution, they deface and destroy statutes of statesmen and thinkers.
They aim to delegitimize the republic’s founding principles and documents – not least our Bill of Rights and Constitution – by discrediting, delegitimizing, and destroying reputations and representations of those who founded the nation, from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington.
Most Americans – arguably 99 percent – are not with this absurd, anti-democratic, anti-American violence. They do not condone lawless destruction of public or private property, the desecration of history. They disavow, resist, and will rebuff violence.
That said, the danger posed by lawlessness like that of the 1960s is real. In that time, America saw a young President, Attorney General, and Civil Rights Leader assassinated. We suffered widespread bombings, were perpetrated by groups like the Weather Underground and communist-linked liberation movements. Today, urban violence is spreading to the suburbs, fanned by foreign adversaries, like China. So, we must stay focused on – and proud of – American history.
We must recognize history’s complexity – and significance. That is why the most egregious act was defacing a North Carolina cemetery commemorating 5,170 American WWII veterans – with a crude Communist hammer and sickle.
No two ideas are more opposed – than giving one’s life to preserve freedom and advancing communist suppression of freedom. If there is a historical prism through which to see what is happening today, that horrific act is the prism. It teaches lessons.
First, all Americans must distinguish lawless from lawful behavior. Non-violent marches, signs and demonstrations are protected. They help reshape laws. Violence – against people, property, and history – is never protected. It is anti-democratic, anti-republican, anti-peace, and anti-American, no matter the justification. Violence against people, property and history must be stopped, and then swiftly and surely punished.
Second, there is no place on American soil for a hammer and sickle, sign of international communism, both Soviet and Maoist. To be clear, the symbol represents subjugation – totalitarian control of society, ending individual liberties secured by our Bill of Rights.
Third, juxtaposing a hammer and sickle – representing global communism – with a memorial in an American veterans’ cemetery with 5,170 WWII veterans is the height of sick irony, an abomination in current and historical terms.
Those veterans rose – with 16 million Americans – to save the world from totalitarianism. More than 400,000 Americans died saving the world – literally – from a descent into incalculable evil, of the kind matched only by Soviet and Chinese horrors.
In total, scholars attribute to international communism between 85 million and 110 million murders, Soviet and Chinese dissidents whose lives often ended with a shot to the back of the head, plus tens of millions starved by both Stalin and Mao. China continues to persecute, execute, imprison, and suppress political dissidents today.
Facts surrounding Soviet and Chinese Communism – often buried with victims – are stark and need remembering. Scholar R.J. Rummel, in “Death by Government,” found that 110 million lives were silenced by Communist leaders between 1900 and 1987. Stephane Courtois, in her “Black Book of Communism,” puts that at 85-100 million.
Others conducting analyses of both Soviet (extinct) and Chinese Communism (operational), including Benjamin Valentino, Steven Rosefield (“Red Holocaust”), Matthew White, “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation,” and Stephen Kotlin in 2017, place numbers killed by Communist leaders in a similar range.
So, the idea that anyone on US soil would vandalize public property, target a cemetery and memorial dedicated to heroes of WWII, then place a hammer and sickle on that memorial– is objectively horrific. That act tells us – in a poignant and painful way – why understanding and honoring rule of law, American heroism, and history is vital.
If we lose sight of who we are, why we are proud of who we are, why history matters to each of us, and why rule of law must always be honored to keep liberty alive – we lose it all. Socialism is another word for progressive policies striving for communist rule, which should always be anathema to American ideals and unwelcome on American soil.
Here we are – in another educational moment. We are invited to understand what freedom means – and what it does not mean. We are reminded what so many died to protect, and what we are obligated to preserve. And we are compelled to see that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” depend on defending law, order, and history. Perhaps that is the silver lining on a dark cloud bank. Let us hope so.