December 21, 2005 | Commentary on
Another "Forgotten War"
We'd all like it to be, but the war's not over. And occasionally,
it still erupts in violence. No, not the war in Iraq. The Cold War
between western freedom and communist tyranny.
The small Chinese village of Dongzhou finds itself on the front
lines of this twilight struggle. In recent weeks, police in riot
gear have fired automatic weapons at villagers, killing dozens. The
villagers were protesting because the Communist Party had seized
their land to build a new power plant.
These unfortunate citizens are merely the latest victims of
communism, the bloodiest ideology yet devised by man. In the name
of communism, the Soviet Union murdered 20 million people through
purges, famines and the infamous gulag. In the name of communism,
Mao Zedong and the other Chinese Communist leaders slaughtered an
estimated 50 million people through the Great Leap Forward, the
Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square massacre and other
"socialist experiments." In the name of communism, more than 100
million have been killed worldwide.
Too many of these victims lie forgotten in unmarked graves. This
tragic oversight must be corrected. It's time to build a fitting
memorial to the victims of communism.
I am honored to be the chairman of the Victims of Communism
Memorial Foundation (victimsofcommunism.org), which is authorized
under public law to design, build and maintain a memorial in
Washington, D.C., to the victims of communism. The government has
given us a sliver of land on Capitol Hill, two blocks from Union
Station. That's the entire federal contribution to this worthy
project; everything else is being funded through private
Our memorial will feature a 10-foot-high bronze replica of the
statue of Democracy, erected by pro-democracy students in Tiananmen
Square in the spring of 1989 and then destroyed by Chinese
On the front pedestal of the Democracy statue, modeled after our
own Statue of Liberty, will be inscribed the words: "To the more
than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love
On the back pedestal will be the words, "To the freedom and
independence of all captive nations and peoples." These words will
remind visitors that a fifth of the world's population still lives
under communism, a sad fact too often forgotten, especially by
We Americans are lucky. We've never had to worry about a knock on
the door in the middle of the night, with members of the secret
police ready to drag us from our homes. We have never had to endure
the horrors of re-education camps to break the minds and bodies of
dissidents. We have never seen whole families, whole cities, even
whole peoples deported or extinguished in the name of
We have never suffered in these ways, but for many millions of
people over the past century, these horrors were a daily fact of
life. Today, the remaining communist dictatorships perpetuate the
Leninist legacy of fear and intimidation.
In Cuba, Fidel Castro has silenced any opposition to his rule,
placing political dissidents in concrete jail cells with no light
and no furniture for as long as 20 years. In China, thousands of
dissidents are imprisoned in the laogai
, slave-labor camps
that are the Chinese equivalent of the old Soviet gulag. Others, as
noted above, are shot down in the streets. In North Korea, the
entire populace lives in a totalitarian nightmare, marked by
starvation and mass public executions.
The deaths and oppression caused by communism worldwide are
unparalleled in human history. Nothing else -- no war, no plague --
has come close. When asked who were the victims of communism, a
former occupant of the Soviet gulag replied, "Everyone who lived in
the 20th century was a victim of communism." This is the true cost
of communism -- a holocaust that has lasted for nearly a
Of course, because of inspiring leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Pope
John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher, and because of the millions of
anonymous soldiers who served in the front lines across the
decades, communism is in decline. Eventually it will completely
disappear. And that makes a memorial even more vital.
When people in the years to come see our memorial and read that 100
million died as a result of communist tyranny, they will be
reminded of how fortunate they are to live in a free country, and
how important it is to resist tyranny around the world.
Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at The Heritage
Foundation (heritage.org), is the author of many books, including
"The Conservative Revolution."
Distributed nationally on the Knight-Ridder Tribune wire