Douglas Andrews / May 16, 2022

Florida’s Kids Will Learn Their History

The Sunshine State’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is committed to ensuring that communism won’t reemerge on his watch.

“Economics is not the central problem of this century. … Faith is the central problem of this age. The Western world does not know it, but it already possesses the answer to this problem — but only provided that its faith in God and the freedom he enjoins is as great as Communism’s faith in man.”

So said Whittaker Chambers in Witness, a book that this year celebrates 70 years since its publication, and a book that renowned critic Hilton Kramer called “one of the few indispensable autobiographies ever written by an American.”

We have no idea whether Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has ever read Witness, but a bill he signed into law last week makes clear that he understands not only the threat of communism, but the need to educate our children as to its man-centered atheistic wickedness. DeSantis called last Monday “a blockbuster day for freedom” as he signed a bill that will require public school students to observe “Victims of Communism Day” each year on November 7. As the Tampa Bay Times reports:

The new law, which went into effect immediately, describes the day as being geared toward “honoring the 100 million people who have fallen victim to communist regimes” across the world. The law also gives DeSantis authority to extend observance of the day beyond public schools, as it requires that Victims of Communism Day “be suitably observed by public exercise in the State Capitol and elsewhere as the governor may designate.”

The signing ceremony took place, fittingly, at Miami’s Freedom Tower, which marks the arrival of some 650,000 Cuban refugees in South Florida in the 1960s and ‘70s as they fled Fidel Castro’s brutal communist revolution.

Why teach kids about communism? Because, as historian David Satter wrote in The Wall Street Journal, these regimes have killed on an “industrial scale.”

“In total, no fewer than 20 million Soviet citizens were put to death by the regime or died as a direct result of its repressive policies,” Satter wrote. “This does not include the millions who died in the wars, epidemics, and famines that were predictable consequences of Bolshevik policies, if not directly caused by them.” And, he continues, when we count the victims of the various communist regimes linked to the USSR, “including those in Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cambodia,” the staggering death toll is about 100 million.

Jezebel’s Kylie Cheung’s denialist argument — that communism just hasn’t been done right! — is typical of those on the Left: “For any impressionable Florida kids that may be reading this, please note that there have never been any 'true’ communist countries, owing largely to violent intervention from the U.S. and other Western superpowers,” she wrote.

“We want to make sure that every year folks in Florida, but particularly our students, will learn about the evils of communism,” said DeSantis, “the dictators that have led communist regimes, and the hundreds of millions of individuals who suffered and continue to suffer under the weight of this discredited ideology.”

In doing so, the first-term governor, who’s up for reelection in November, drew yet another clear line of distinction between Democrat governance and Republican — the former known for its commie-sympathies and the latter known for its ardent anti-communism. A lot of young people “don’t really know that much” about the soul-crushing political ideology, DeSantis added. Indeed, as a poll conducted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found, one in five Millennials and one in three Gen Zers view communism favorably.

It can’t be stressed enough: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

And so, beginning in the 2023-2024 academic year, Florida high school students enrolled in U.S. government courses will get at least 45 minutes of instruction each November 7 describing how “decades of oppression and violence under communist regimes throughout the world” have caused incalculable “poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech,” and how “the economic philosophies of Karl Marx … have proven incompatible with the ideals of liberty, prosperity and dignity of human life.”

“I think this tower,” said DeSantis, “is a reminder that freedom is not free, that you have to fight for your rights and that there are a lot of people out there that would love nothing more than to put you under some form of oppression.”

DeSantis may not be a witness in the same sense as Whittaker Chambers, who famously testified against his former fellow traveler, Alger Hiss, a communist spy. But DeSantis clearly understands the communist evils that take place yet today just 90 miles off our nation’s shore. Let’s hope other Republican governors do as well.

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