I hesitate to write this, because my dear wife has always hated that I ever said such a thing a number of years ago. But it seems more relevant and maybe even needed right now, more than when I uttered it originally.
It was in the early 1960s, as ban-the-bomb demonstrations gathered momentum and university administrative offices got their first invasions by students — the forerunners of the anti-warriors who would board up and barricade themselves inside university presidents’ offices later that decade, literally demanding that “peace” policies be adopted and radical new courses be taught.
It was a very turbulent time, when troubling developments seemed always on the increase.
As always, reactions to the reactionaries were almost as extreme, and antiwar slogans were answered with accusations of lack of patriotism and ignorance of the worldwide plans of Communists . . . to infiltrate, sedate and subvert democratic nations, and eventually to dominate all humanity with a socialist, godless dictatorship. Civil disturbance was rife, and conflicts arose everywhere, especially on college campuses, where idealistic young people were trying to sort out what was real, what was false, and what was worth committing to.
A phrase found currency and became a slogan, circulating everywhere. It really made the hair stand up on my neck: “Better red than dead.”
From teachers to students, administrators to faculty, the phrase resonated and spread. “After all, what’s so bad about communism anyway? The Russian people seem to have all they need, and why should we get into some kind of violent war about whether they believe in God or not?” Lots of stuff like that, betraying abysmal ignorance about the nature of communism, dictatorship by an elite unelected few, and absolute condemnation of all religion, the “opiate of the people.”
Dr. Fred Schwartz, an academic from Australia, wrote a book “You Can Trust the Communists to Do What They Say,” detailing the specific stated goals of communist leaders, and revealing the blueprint of their expressed tactics.
Their theme was “Give us the children, the youth, of one generation, and we’ll own the country.” And the growing acceptance of the “better red than dead” notion was evidence that things were going according to plan for them.
In short order, Dr. Schwartz’ “anti-communism rallies” were filling arenas all over the nation. As a young father of four little girls, I attended the one at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, joining with others who were deeply alarmed at what we saw happening all around us, especially in the entertainment community.
A popular actor, recently President of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan, was there. So were John Wayne, some local elected officials, and a sprinkling of other notables. I joined them and Dr. Schwartz on the stage, looking out at almost 20,000 Angelinos, all concerned as I was, and wondering what could be done about the apparent apathy of our fellow citizens. Schwartz spoke powerfully, his Australian accent and scholarly diction lending his facts and quotes frightening credibility. Some of the others on stage spoke, and then came my turn.
I didn’t say much, but my words made a deep and chilling impression on a future President, who quoted them a number of times later. “I keep hearing this phrase everywhere, especially among our young people, ‘better red than dead.’ Well, I’ve got four young daughters. I love them more than my own life. I pray it will never come to this, but if we someday soon have to make a choice — I’d rather my four little girls be blown into heaven in an atomic blast, than taught into hell in a communist United States.”
As I remember it, there was sort of a stunned silence while the audience absorbed what I’d just said, and then a prolonged, approving roar of applause. Our friend Reagan told me he’d felt shivers, and my wife was very unhappy. As she explained, “I don’t like you saying something like that; it sounds like you’re almost inviting it!” I assured her that my motive was the exact opposite. I hoped that if enough of us saw the problem and the eventual dreaded choice clearly, we would make sure it never did happen.
For 40 years since, I thought we had escaped that choice; now I’m not so sure.
But the insidious virus of apathetic Americanism, a shedding of traditional mores and beliefs, and some conscious, determined campaigns to mutate some of our most vital DNA — all have combined to bring our society to an almost unrecognizable state. In many ways, it looks like the communists won!
Think about it a minute. What did the communists say they wanted to do with “just one generation of the youth”? They wanted to rid them of any allegiance to two centuries of American pride, tradition, religion-based morality, and nationalism. They definitely wanted to smother all ideas of individual freedom of expression, or any independence at all — replacing those “outmoded” concepts with utter dependence on government, a Big Brother who would rob the rich and supply at least the basic needs of all citizens, reducing (they called it “raising”) everybody to the same level; they called it a “classless society,” one that valued all the same, and made sure that all stayed the same, without any reason or opportunity for anyone to have something all the rest didn’t have.
Well, what do we see developing all around us right now? The American Federation of Teachers union and the National Education Association union, supported and buttressed by the socialist-founded ACLU, are swamping our school systems — at least one and likely several generations of our youth — with teaching and grading requirements that suppress individual advancement and reward mediocre and even failing performance with passing marks!
The rationale is that to “fail” or hold back a struggling or idling student might damage self-esteem, and that the superior student shouldn’t appear to be preferred over the poor one. And all research shows that America’s students are learning less and less, in almost all subjects. But not to worry; other political forces are working feverishly to insure that all citizens(not just teachers) will be cared for and fed and housed and insured and hospitalized when needed, without any regard for what, if anything, those citizens may have earned or contributed to society.
Karl Marx, the noted “educator,” 160 years ago spelled out his main strategies for takeover and domination of any country: (1) progressive graduated income tax; and (2) government education of the children. Leftist, liberal, spend-it-all politicians are accomplishing the first; and socialistic, humanistic activists in and out of government are making awful headway with the second.
We’ve got to stay focused on this. I promise you I will, in columns to come.
Academically, we’re already at apocalypse now. But it seems an Armageddon is shaping up on campuses across America, and we’ll investigate that ASAP.
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