Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Walter Williams on Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and American Academia

Posted by Tom Sawyer.

Professor Williams is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University and for several years served as the Chair of that department. His weekly columns appear in 140 newspapers nationwide.

Go here to see a list of books written by Walter E. Williams.

The following is a portion of his most recent column. Click here to read the entire thing.
Walter Williams: Alan Kors, University of Pennsylvania history professor, gave the evening's keynote address. What he revealed about the dereliction and character weakness of academics, intellectuals, media elites and politicians is by no means complimentary, but worse than that, dangerous. Professor Kors said that over the years, he has frequently asked students how many deaths were caused by Joseph Stalin and Mao Tsetung and their successors. Routinely, they gave numbers in the thousands. Kors says that's equivalent to saying the Nazis are responsible for the deaths of just a few hundred Jews. But here's the record: Nazis were responsible for the deaths of 20 million of their own people and those in nations they conquered. Between 1917 and 1983, Stalin and his successors murdered, or were otherwise responsible for the deaths of, 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, Mao Tsetung and his successors were responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese.

Professor Kors asks why are the horrors of Nazism so well known and widely condemned, but not those of socialism and communism? For decades after World War II, people have hunted down and sought punishment for Nazi murderers. How much hunting down and seeking punishment for Stalinist and Maoist murderers? In Europe, especially Germany, hoisting the swastika-emblazoned Nazi flag is a crime. It's acceptable to hoist and march under a flag emblazoned with the former USSR's hammer and sickle. Even in the U.S., it's acceptable to praise mass murderers, as Anita Dunn, President Obama's communications director, did in a commencement address for St. Andrews Episcopal High School at Washington National Cathedral where she said Mao Tsetung was one of her heroes. Whether it's the academic community, the media elite or politicians, there is a great tolerance for the ideas of socialism -- a system that has caused more deaths and human misery than all other systems combined.

Academics, media elites and leftist politicians both in the U.S. and Europe protested the actions and military buildup of President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and ultimately the breakup of the Soviet Union. Recall the leftist hissy fit when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the evil empire and predicted that communism would wind up on the trash heap of history.

Professor Alan Kors did not say this but the reason why the world's leftists give the world's most horrible murderers a pass is because . . .
Well, don't you want to know why? To find out what Professor Williams's answer is, go to the column and read it.


One Salient Oversight said...

After WW2, most of Western Europe embraced different forms of socialism. None of those nations committed mass Nazi/Soviet style atrocities and most if not all of those nations were American allies.

I speak of France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the UK, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland... the list goes on.

The type of socialism embraced by each nation was different. After WW2 the UK embraced more of a "Democratic Socialist" economy, and began nationalising coal mines, steel works and so on. Germany, still reeling from the devastation of the war, instituted a "Social Market Economy", whereby the government regulated the market without dabbling in it directly.

All of these nations instituted some form of universal health care system, a welfare system to look after unemployment, people with disabilities, pensions to help young families and retired people.

Much has changed in the years since then, but much has remained the same. Errors have been made and policies have been changed, while at the same time good policies have been lauded and approved of by the people (eg universal health care).

These nations are still America's allies. While it is fine to disagree with the direction of socialism, don't equate it with Nazism or Communism - your friends and allies are socialist (in comparison to the US).

Tom Sawyer said...

I don't think Walter Williams is equating western European socialism with Soviet socialism. I think he is just pointing out a curiosity. Why is it that many on the left, both in government and academia, tend to gloss over the atrocities of communists while "Nazi" has become a curse word? That is what he is addressing.

BTW, fascism was all the vogue both in Europe and over here before World War II. Mussolini was loved by academics the same way they have idolized butchers like Mao, Che, and Castro since.