Monday, March 9, 2015
To the senior class of Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School (Albuquerque, NM):
On behalf of millions of victims of communism, we are writing to request that you reverse your decision to throw a communism themed prom, or so called “prom-munism”.
Communism is the deadliest ideology in the history of the world.
Communist regimes have, according to careful scholarly estimates, killed more than 100,000,000 people—that’s something like 50 times the population of the state of New Mexico, dead because of communism. In China, Russia, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Poland, Hungary, Ethiopia, Cuba, and in every other state in which it has been implemented, communism has resulted in government-sanctioned murder and totalitarian control.
Unfortunately, Cottonwood School’s proposed “prom-munism” makes a joke of this legacy and a mockery of innocent victims whose lives were destroyed by communism. Most of all, your decision is deeply offensive to the survivors of communist regimes.
The real scandal here lies not with you, students eager to learn about history and politics, but with your teachers, who have apparently failed to impress upon you the basic lessons of the 20th century. Your decision to vote in support of “prom-munism” is not itself the problem, but rather a symptom of the larger problem: Our failure in America to teach our students the truth about communism.
Hopefully you have learned that six million people, primarily Jews, were murdered in the Nazi holocaust. But did you also learn about the scale of death wrought by communist governments? And not just military opponents, but political dissidents, artists, students, land-owners, intellectuals, ethnic minorities and disabled people. We must never forget the full record of communist violence.
As Thomas Jefferson warned, “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic”—our own freedoms are in large part dependent on keeping an accurate record of history. To address this teaching deficit, our Foundation recently published a curriculum on communism for high-schoolers (Communism: Its Ideology, History, and Legacy), which I have enclosed here and am also sending to your teachers.
We ought to treat communism with the same scorn that we treat fascism. And we ought to show the victims of communism the same respect and sensitivity that we do those of the Nazi regime. So ask yourselves: Would you have voted for a Third Reich themed prom?
We at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation work every day to honor the memory of those killed by communist regimes and to tell the truth about the bloody legacy of this violent ideology. One way we do this is by telling stories—stories like that of Henry Li, who was a student (like you all) when he witnessed his friends being killed by government troops in the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Or Myroslav Marynovych, who was sent to a Siberian Gulag for refusing to spy on his friends and family members while at college. Or Dániel Magay, who was never even allowed to go to school because his family had been landowners before communists took over and kicked them out of their house. Bearing in mind these painful testimonies, and recalling the many ways in which communism has destroyed innocent lives, we hope that you will reconsider your decision to hold a communist-themed prom.
It is not unusual for one’s high school years to be filled with embarrassing memories. Usually, however, these memories do not involve making light of mass murder, as your fellow citizens look on in dismay.
Please, reconsider your decision and ask your teachers at Cottonwood to teach you the true history of communist crimes. By knowing these facts you will hopefully be better able to defend the oppressed and preserve the liberties you have so long enjoyed by living in the United States of America.
Tuesday, March 10: The Albuquerque Journal quoted the above letter from VOC in their local coverage of the story.
Tuesday night it was reported that the seniors at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School chose a different theme for their prom. According to the school’s head administrator: “The students learned a big lesson out of all of this and now they are more aware that is not just their intentions that matter.”