- The Washington Times
Thursday, May 12, 2022

OPINION:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 395 into law on Monday, declaring Nov. 7 of every year as “Victims of Communism Day.” The new law requires public schools to reserve at least one day a year to teach students the dangers of communism and the tragedies it has caused. 

The bill specifically mandates schools finally discuss “decades of oppression and violence under communist regimes throughout the world” specifically noting how “the economic philosophies of Karl Marx … have proven incompatible with the ideals of liberty, prosperity and dignity of human life.” It also accurately discusses how communism’s “false promises or equality and liberation” has justified regimes that have been responsible for killing more than 100 million people. 


Mr. DeSantis signed the bill in Miami’s Freedom Tower, a historical landmark for the Cuban exile community. The building received its name because it was where U.S. authorities processed exiles who emigrated to Miami from Cuba in 1980 during the infamous Mariel Boatlift. During those few months, when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro opened the gates of the island, an estimated 125,000 Cubans risked their lives in hopes of reaching freedom in the United States.  

Those Cubans who fled the Castro regime are far from being alone. People from all over the world have risked their lives to escape communism by crossing the Iron Curtain and the demilitarized zone from North to South Korea, as well as making the dangerous trek throughout Latin America or even swimming from China to Hong Kong.

Still, a poll conducted the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that 1 in 5 millennials and 1 in 3 members of Gen Z view communism favorably. The foundation has been instrumental in helping Florida develop new curriculum and is prescribed in the federal senate bill to do the same. 

Despite the brutality, slave labor and extrajudicial executions in countries like Soviet Russia, Maoist China, Juche North Korea and communist Cuba, schools have glossed over these historical tragedies despite their historical significance. Florida’s Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez told reporters the new law was part of Florida’s broader initiative to eliminate critical race theory and “woke” ideologies. Mrs. Nunez told reporters in December that, “as the daughter of Cuban exiles who fled from Marxist ideology,” she was proud to support legislation to end “wokeness” that was “permeating our schools and workforce.” 

Since then, the state has enacted the Stop WOKE Act, which prohibits school instruction or workplace training that teaches any individual is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive”; that “people are privileged or oppressed based on race, gender or national origin”; or that a person “bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress.” To ensure an accurate account of American history, the act allows teachers to discuss “how the individual freedoms of persons have been infringed by slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination.”

Whereas Florida’s STOP Woke Act was a preventive measure to stop Marxist indoctrination, HB 395 moves schools toward affirmatively teaching the evil communisms — just as they have taught the evils of fascism, imperialism and national socialism when discussing the crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the Axis powers during the Second World War. 

In December, U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar introduced the Crucial Communism Teaching Act to educate students nationwide about the history and dangers of communism. In February, the act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Kennedy, making mention that today “1,500,000,000 people still suffer under communism.” 

This vital legislation is necessary and long overdue because it will give students the opportunity to learn how history happened without schools teaching the evil of some totalitarian ideologies — while selectively excluding another. 


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