A necessary memorial: Canadians should be exposed to the full panoply of communist atrocities [Article]

From the National Post:

Nine million Canadians — that’s almost a third of us according to the 2006 census — came to these shores from communist-ruled countries. Many are now dead or very old. Their descendants deserve to see their sacrifices acknowledged and Canadians exposed to the full panoply of communist atrocities.

Prospects for educating Canadians about the human toll exacted by communism through their stories will brighten when a long-sought Ottawa Memorial to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism is completed, a project singled out for endorsement in the recent Throne Speech.

The exhaustively researched Holocaust is in no danger of being forgotten. The highest term of opprobrium in Western culture, whether from leftists or rightists (rightly or wrongly) is “Nazi,” not “communist.” That’s not because Nazis and communists have been compared and Nazis found to be worse. It’s because people don’t know how bad communism was and is.

In 2006 the Swedish Ministry of Education initiated programs teaching the crimes of communism because a poll had revealed only 10% of Swedish youth could identify the Gulag. Canadian youth would not fare better. All educated Canadians associate the word “Auschwitz” with “genocide.” The equally horrific “Holodomor” is more likely to draw a blank stare.

Why has communism escaped the moral condemnation Naziism attracts in such exuberant degree? In recent years several scholars have addressed the question and provided a litany of reasons, amongst them:

-Stalin was a war ally and therefore escaped the postwar censure he deserved;

-There was no Nuremburg, no Truth and Reconciliation moment for communism as there was for other genocidal regimes;

-Communist propaganda machines are extremely efficient at positive branding (Trudeau bought in; his fawning patronage of Fidel Castro was beyond contemptible).

But all reasons pale beside the glaring failure of left-wing intellectuals to admit — and to teach — that communism isn’t simply an unfortunate contingency of socialist passion but an ideology as immoral and implacably ruthless and dramatically consequential as Naziism.

The word “memorial” is somewhat misleading, though, suggesting that communism is a closed historical chapter. The fall of the Berlin Wall notwithstanding, communism in one guise or another still determines the fate of millions of hapless people around the globe. Victims in communist regimes are still starved, imprisoned, tortured and denied the most basic of human rights.

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Sadly it’s been almost a year since we first reported on the memorial with little progress. Last Fall the Canadian memorial had to compromise on its tribute to victims of only totalitarian communism (as if there is really any other kind) to not take the risk of offending communists!

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