The cartoon showed two 6-year-old boys sitting on a fence admiring a 5-year-old girl, nose in the air, perky and cute as a speckled puppy under a red wagon. “If I ever quit hating girls,” said one of the boys, “I’m going to quit hating HER first!”
Communism is out of the closet, out on the American street under its own name and doing its best to be heard and heeded. This is the second time American Communists have been comfortable preaching, parading and plotting without hiding behind front groups shouting “Peace” and “Equality” and pretending their real name and aim is something like “Milk for Bulgarian Babies.” Before World War II, being a Communist was fashionable. It made you a kind of automatic moral giant. Journalist Lincoln Steffens returned to America from the brand-new Soviet Union and declared, “I have seen the future, and it works!”
Why this, and why now? Authentic American hero Dave Bego, who defied and defeated the efforts of the all-powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to bludgeon him into accepting unionization of his industrial cleaning company, Executive Management Services, sent me a literally unbelievable “picture show” of a joint SEIU and Communist Party rally in Los Angeles in which the union members carried Communist flags and the marching Communists carried union signs.
All of the joy and prestige of being a Communist vanished shortly after the Americans and British, with our Soviet allies, destroyed Nazi Germany. The true face of Communism became abruptly plain. Territory conquered by Allied troops was liberated. That conquered by the Communists was enslaved. The Berlin Blockade was a shameless Soviet abrogation of our agreements.
The Iron Curtain descended across Europe. The Nazi “knock-on-the-door” followed by the permanent disappearance of those inside, the torture chambers, the total repression of all freedoms, life sentences in the Gulag for the crime of listening to foreign broadcasts, the works – really the whole Nazi works – unfolded. It’s true, opportunistic American politicians demagogued Communism for votes, but they did more service to America than those demagoguing Paul Ryan’s attempt to reform entitlements today.
To break the boredom, Romanian Communist border guards occasionally used the propellers of their motorboats to chop “freedom swimmers” to pieces in the Danube River as they tried to flee; more fun than just shooting them. Let’s say you and I met on the street in Moscow; we could stop and talk. If a third friend happened to join us, however, a plain-clothes “agit-prop” agent would show up and tell us to “break it up and keep moving.” Communism hates spontaneous crowds. Tell it to Hosni Mubarak. Your radio listening choices in the Soviet Union were “on or off.” The state decides what you can know. An Albanian man was sentenced to seven years in jail for saying, “There are no tomatoes in the market.” Bad for morale.
If there were a “filibuster contest” of who could tell the most horror stories of life under Communism, I’d be a reasonable front-runner. It’s been my pursuit since a college fluke landed me in my first Communist country in 1951. I was invited by Communist Yugoslavia, the maverick Marxist country on our side. At a university dance, even though I was an “honored guest of the state,” not a single girl would dance with me. They were too smart. Sure, America and Yugoslavia were allies, but they were smart enough to know the party line could change in the middle of a waltz and, when it did, the secret police would get dozens of denunciations that “Anna Dapcevic was seen dancing willingly with an American.”
Not enough red-baiting yet? Under Communism, people knew never to use old newspapers to line their clothing drawers. No, the secret police didn’t barge in to read the newspapers you’d deployed underneath your underwear. But, when the party line changed, a spiteful brother-in-law might easily call the authorities and report that “Those newspapers are more than drawer-liners. He’s really saving articles praising former leaders he admires who’ve now been disgraced and deposed!”
Why, now, is Communism “OK”? One myth that flickered underneath all the horrid history about Communism was that, even though the Communist system allowed no opportunity, it likewise gave you free or very low rent. Medicine was free. Education was free. Get it? No bankruptcies. No foreclosures. No debt. When you tell an American how much was “free,” he assumes it was at or near his accustomed level. If you find the “entitlements” of Communism seductive, I want to reach through your monitor and grab you by the collar and shake you. The “expense-free” Communist subject had a miserable quality of life.
But, now that the atrocities of Communism are fading from the American memory, the promises of Communism sound rather interesting in a bad American economy. All I’m promising is that Communism is the world’s biggest consumer fraud.
A Communist is someone who cannot see a fat man standing beside a thin man without concluding the fat man got that way at the expense of the thin man.
If Americans ever quit hating Communism, we’ll quit hating the “give-aways” first.