Communism is making a comeback: Here’s how to stop it

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s a time to celebrate freedom’s victory over communist tyranny. It’s also the best time to ask: Do Americans still oppose communism?

I asked this question at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. A congressionally authorized nonprofit, we worked with YouGov in October to poll Americans’ views on the deadliest ideology in history. Our findings demand attention. Better yet, they deserve action from Minnesota lawmakers.

Communism is soaring in popularity. More than one-in-three millennials view communism favorably. So does nearly 30% of Generation Z. Millennials’ support for communism grew by nearly 10 percentage points over the past year.

More young Americans also view capitalism and communism as equally violent. Never mind that free enterprise has lifted billions of people from poverty to prosperity while communism has a track record of misery and murder. In the 20th century alone, communism killed at least 100 million people.

Young Americans simply don’t understand the communist threat. In fact, while communism is gaining approval in America, it’s gaining ground globally — and it’s more aggressive and oppressive than at any point since 1989.

Only 103 miles from America sits communist Cuba, now 60 years strong. Fidel Castro may be gone, but the regime he built still imprisons its opponents and denies freedom to the masses. Communist Cuba also props up the socialist dictatorship in Venezuela and the authoritarian regimes in Nicaragua and Bolivia.

Across the Pacific, North Korea is more communist concentration camp than country, tyrannizing 25 million people. Rather than help his starving, desperate subjects, the Kim regime steals money and smuggles resources to build a nuclear arsenal capable of threatening America and our allies.

And then, of course, there’s communist China.

Last month, China surpassed the Soviet Union as history’s longest-lived communist government, and Beijing is at least as tyrannical as Moscow ever was. It has thrown as many as 3 million Muslim Uighurs into 21st-century gulags. It is also destroying Christian churches and stifling other faiths. Worst of all, China is using technology to build the world’s largest surveillance state. Its goal is to rid the Chinese people of their yearning for freedom.

Even as Beijing tries to remake mankind, it wants to remake the world in its authoritarian image. Nowhere is this more evident than in China’s violent crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong. The protesters know this is their last stand, and that Beijing won’t stop unless the free world — including the United States — speaks up far more forcefully.

Silence only emboldens Beijing to extend its tyranny farther and faster. As the Communist Party recently showed by punishing the entire NBA for one employee’s statement of support for Hong Kong, Beijing now thinks it can frighten American companies into silence, as well.

Confronted with communist aggression, moral clarity is precisely what’s needed. This is where Minnesota can step up.

Our organization is urging state lawmakers and city leaders to designate an annual day of commemoration on Nov. 7. Three states have already established a “Victims of Communism Memorial Day.” As we mark this anniversary, Minnesota should recognize the 100 million people killed by communism, and the 1.5 billion people who still live in its thrall.

The Berlin Wall fell, but communism didn’t. The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can stop this evil ideology from capturing more American hearts. And by taking a stand against communism at home, we can once again weaken Communist Parties abroad.

On the 30th anniversary of this triumph of freedom, shouldn’t we recommit America to this noble goal?

Marion Smith is executive director of the congressionally authorized Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He is located in Washington, D.C.

Originally published in Duluth News Tribune. A version of this op-ed was also published in Miami Herald, Detroit News, Chicago Daily Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, Deseret News, Providence Journal, Des Moines Register, Caller Times, The Post and Courier, The Oklahoman, Colorado Springs Gazette, Fredericksburg Free Lance Star, Fayetteville Observer, Rockford Register-Star, Riverside Press Enterprise, Reno Gazette-Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fort Times Times Record, and The Orange County Register.