The ‘Goddess of Democracy’ featured by Chinese protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 is the model for a memorial in Washington, D.C., to victims of communism
While memorials to victims of all kinds abound, the U.S. has had no place to teach current and future generations about the “murderous legacy” of communism – until now.
A congressionally authorized “Memorial to the Victims of Communism” will be unveiled Tuesday in Washington, D.C., featuring a statue modeled on the “Goddess of Democracy” used by Chinese students who protested in Tiananmen Square in 1989
The memorial will be located at the intersections of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues, about two blocks from Union Station and within view of the Capitol.
A dedication ceremony is planned Tuesday at 10 a.m. with Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, giving the keynote speech. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., also will speak, and President Bush has been invited to give remarks.
An estimated 100 million people have died as a result of totalitarian atrocities and policies by communist regimes, according to “The Black Book of Communism,” the work of six leftist French intellectuals published in 1999 by Harvard University Press.
Yet the U.S and the Western world has a “great moral blind spot” when it comes to understanding the impact and threat of communism, say the organizers of the memorial.
“It is a great moral failing for a free society to misunderstand the extent of communism’s atrocities,” they say. “While the horrors of Nazism are well known, who knows that the Soviet Union murdered 20 million people? Who knows that China’s dictators have slaughtered an estimated 60 million? Who knows that the communist holocaust has exacted a death toll surpassing that of all of the wars of the 20th century combined?”
Inscriptions on the memorial, which was conceived by scholar Lee Edwards and former Ambassador Lev Dobriansky, will read: “To the more than 100 million victims of Communism and to those who love liberty,” and “To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples.”
Edwards told American Spectator senior editor Quin Hillyer the purpose is not only to memorialize victims of communism but to honor those who resisted it, “real leaders” such as Ronald Reagan, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Harry Truman, Pope John Paul II and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
A third purpose is to educate, Edwards said.
“We want to educate people about what a terrible tyranny it was,” he told Hillyer. ” … There is not the same kind of recognition of the communist holocaust.”
Edwards noted “the Soviets and the Chinese and the Cambodians thought that they could create a new man, and they set about it in the most ruthless way, and anybody that got in their way, they destroyed. The got caught up in this Utopian nightmare and cut down anybody who got in their way. … ”
He pointed to Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” in which the Chinese communist leader tried to collectivize agriculture in the vast Asian nation. The forced program killed 5 million in the first year, said Edwards, 10 million in the second and 20 million in the third while Mao insisted the plan must “keep ahead.”
“We can certainly conclude that there is this maniacal impulse which leads them to do maniacal things like the purges, like the famines, like the mock trials,” Edwards said “… I really think it goes back to this Utopian notion that makes them think they can remake people, which of course I think is rather insane.”
Edwards emphasized tyranny must be resisted.
“You cannot just accept it. You cannot just think it is not going to challenge me,” he said. ” … You must stand up to tyranny with purpose and with conviction and with dispatch.”