What about the victims of capitalism?

On June 12, George W. Bush inaugurated the “Victims of Communism Memorial” within view of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

At the ceremony, Bush described communists as “followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom, crushes all dissent, has expansionist ambitions and pursues totalitarian aims.'

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Bush’s War on Terror, the Patriot Act or any of the numerous other regressive policies he has pursued in his two terms in the White House should see the great irony of his description of communism.

The Victims of Communism Memorial was established by a 1993 act of Congress to commemorate what the memorial’s official web site calls the “more than 100 million victims of communism.” Where does this number come from?

The web site makes the following specious allegations: Lenin destroyed hundreds of thousands of Cossacks; the Kremlin starved more than 6 million in the Ukraine; Mao murdered tens of millions of Chinese peasants during his 'land reforms.'

Did the site’s authors fail to realize that Lenin was fighting Cossack “insurgents” from the counter-revolutionary White Army — with backing from several nations such as Britain, France, Japan and, of course, the United States? Why do they attribute the weather to the Kremlin? Ukrainians were starving due to droughts, not socialism. And to accuse Mao of “murder” for starvation caused by poor policies is a bit of a stretch as well.

The web site claims “the U.S. and the Western world have a great moral blind spot when it comes to understanding the impact and threat of communism.”

That’s a strange notion, considering the anti-communist history of our country. From 1919 to 1921 we had the Palmer Raids. Then, starting in 1938, there was HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee. In the 1950s was the McCarthy witch-hunt and the spy-hysteria execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. The 1960s and 1970s gave us the anti-communist Vietnam War, and Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire” in the 1980s.

Consider also that the U.S. and other Western governments have constantly undermined communist-led countries around the world since Russia’s October Revolution. In the introduction to his book “Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II,” William Blum wrote, “Every socialist experiment of any significance in the 20th century — without exception — has either been crushed, overthrown, or invaded, or corrupted, perverted, subverted, or destabilized, or otherwise had life made impossible for it, by the United States.” A truism I’ve often heard is “anti-communism is the closest thing we have to a state religion in the United States.”

Who is behind the Victims of Communism Memorial? Its honorary chairman is none other than George W. Bush. The ultra-right Heritage Foundation’s Lee Edwards is the chairman. Anti-communist author Michael Ryan is the vice chairman.

Among the organization’s directors is Grover Norquist, who, according to Wikipedia, has ties to radical Islamists and terrorists through his Islamic Free Market Institute. Norquist’s thinly veiled anti-Semitism was revealed in The New Republic, where he stated that American Jews will never vote Republican in numbers large enough to make a difference in elections, so the party should reach out to Muslims. He provided another example of his antipathy toward Jews when he compared the estate tax to the Holocaust.

One may wonder, now that we have a memorial to the “victims” of communism, will there also be a memorial erected to the victims of capitalism? Even if we just look at the victims of U.S. capitalism, it’s a mighty long list.

Millions of Native Americans who died for capitalism’s “Manifest Destiny.” Millions of Africans in chattel slavery. Thousands of African Americans lynched since the end of the Civil War. Millions of workers killed due to lack of safety or outright disregard for their lives by capitalist bosses.

Millions more killed in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kosovo, Iraq, Panama, Grenada and countless other countries in our wars for capitalism. Two atomic bombs dropped on Japan to demonstrate to the Soviet Union the willingness of the U.S. to use these weapons of mass destruction on a civilian population.

Whatever mistakes have been made by communist governments, in the final tally they pale in comparison to the profit-before-people mindset of capitalists.

Todd Tollefson (commiett @yahoo.com) is union activist in Washington state.