Editor’s note: A version of this piece first appeared at FoxNews.com.
“What do you think of this?” So began a phone call from Todd Starnes of FoxNews radio. Starnes asked me for a comment on a shocking story: A band at a high school near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania performed a halftime show titled, “St. Petersburg 1917,” a musical commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution, replete with hammers and sickles, military uniforms, and red flags.
“No way,” I responded. “Are you sure this wasn’t a joke, a parody?”
It wasn’t. And parents of the students aren’t laughing.
The superintendent of the school genuinely pleaded innocence. “It’s a representation of the time period in history, called ‘St. Petersburg 1917,’” she said. “I am truly sorry that somebody took the performance in that manner. I am.” She continued: “If anything is being celebrated it’s the music…. I’m just very sorry that it wasn’t looked at as just a history lesson.”
Well, as a history lesson, I give it a giant, red “F.”
To be fair to the superintendent, she sincerely doesn’t seem to understand what’s so bad about this incident and why it’s in bad taste. In fact, therein is the basic problem: We have failed to teach the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution specifically and of communism generally.
Those horrors include over 100 million corpses generated by communist governments, starting with the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917—that is, “St. Petersburg 1917.” For perspective, 100 million is twice the combined deaths of World Wars I and II, the two deadliest conflicts in history. Even then, 100 million dead, which is the estimate provided by the seminal Harvard University Press work “The Black Book of Communism” is a conservative figure. The latest research claims that Mao Tse-Tung was responsible for the deaths of at least 70 million in China, and Joseph Stalin alone may well have killed 60 million in the USSR.
And yet, far too many Americans are ignorant of this catastrophe, especially younger Americans. I know. I’ve been observing it carefully for years. I could give a thousand examples, but here are just a few:
One former student of mine, John, told me about his first assignment as a teaching assistant in a high-school history class. He offered to cover some of the lectures on the 1930s Soviet Union. His supervising teacher agreed. So, John methodically covered the famine in the Ukraine, Stalin’s purges, the Hitler-Stalin Pact.
John was pleased at how the students were electrified, hands in the air, many questions—clearly learning these hideous things for the first time. Yet, he also noticed the dirty looks from his supervisor. Later, the teacher testily reprimanded him: “Look, John, I want you to ease up on the Red-baiting and commie-bashing. Besides, these students are going to get a decidedly different view on communism from me.” She promised to teach “a softer side of communism.”
Another student of mine, Sean, told me of the elite Christian private school he attended, where the newly hired teacher, fresh out of a major university, told the students he was a “Christian communist,” and that anyone who is a Christian should be a communist.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.