Douglas Andrews / October 23, 2020

The Dangerous Drift of American Youth

An annual report by an anti-communist organization reveals a disturbing trend.

Next spring, if all goes well, yet another museum will open up in the heart of our nation’s capital. Our sense, though, is that this grand opening will receive little media fanfare. The museum, in fact, might even open its doors to organized protests. But this would be in poor taste, because not a single one of the 100 million people for whom the museum is built will be there to defend it. They’re all dead.

The museum we’re talking about is the Victims of Communism Memorial Museum.

There’s a statue — a rather humble one by Beltway standards — currently standing at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, New Jersey Avenue, and G Street, NW, two blocks from Union Station and within view of the U.S. Capitol. She’s holding a torch in her hands, and her arms are stretched outward and upward. The inscription on her front pedestal reads, “To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty,” while her back pedestal reads, “To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples.”

The memorial was dedicated by President George W. Bush on June 12, 2007. June 12 was chosen as the 20th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s famous Brandenburg Gate speech at which he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Two years after Reagan’s speech, the Berlin Wall fell. Two years after that, the Soviet empire collapsed.

We mention all this to tee up the release of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s fifth Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Toward Socialism, Communism, and Collectivism. The YouGov report synthesizes data from 2,100 representative U.S. respondents ages 16 and older, and the results are grim. A full 40% of Americans now have a favorable impression of socialism.

As the Foundation notes, “This year’s study showed increased favorability of the term ‘socialism’ (49%) among Gen Z compared to 2019 (40%). Opinions of capitalism declined slightly from 2019 to 2020 among all Americans (58% to 55%), with Gen Z (ages 16-23) slightly up (49% to 52%) and Millennials (ages 24-39) down (50% to 43%). 35% of Millennials and 31% of Gen Z support the gradual elimination of the capitalist system in favor of a more socialist system.”

Man, are we ever doing a rotten job of educating our nation’s young people about the deadly perils of socialism and communism. But wait. It gets worse.

“It also showed growing concern for Donald Trump as president,” the report continues, “especially among younger generations of Americans, with 34% of Gen Z and 35% of Millennials seeing him as the greatest threat to world peace, up 8% and 7% from 2019, respectively. This sentiment held true regarding his handling of the pandemic as well, with 39% of Gen Z and 32% of Millennials believing Trump is more responsible for COVID-19 becoming a pandemic than Xi Jinping of China.”

So a third of our young people believe that their president is more to blame for the worldwide spread of the coronavirus than the leader of the communist regime that unleashed it on the world and then conspired with the World Health Organization to withhold information about it. Got it.

There’s a nightmarish scene toward the end of George Orwell’s 1984 wherein Winston Smith’s torturer, O'Brien, tries to describe to Smith what a totalitarian future holds for humanity: “But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.”

The Victims of Communism’s Memorial Statue should be a must-see for every ninth-grade trip to our nation’s capital. And 1984 should be required reading for all young Americans.

Finally, as Reagan said back in 1964, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” Those words suddenly have an alarming ring.

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