Today is thanksgiving, the day traditionally set aside to commemorate the feast between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in 1621. We live in a much different world than the first Thanksgiving revelers. Since then, their descendants rose up against British tyranny and proclaimed a new nation. Civil war scorched the land yet the republic came through. Captains of industry brought the world into a new age. America thundered onto the world stage after the triumph of the Great War then led the world the crusade against Nazi and Italian socialism and Japanese imperialism. When the dust settled, America fought the communists for a generation until the Soviet Union collapsed. Through war and strife, depression and downturn, victory and prosperity the United States prevailed. The same cannot be said for millions. This country has a lot to be grateful for, more so than is commonly recognized. If any of those things did not occur, America would be a much different place, and almost certainly for the worse. It bears enumeration just all that the American people have to be thankful for in regards to our collective history.
Americans should be thankful for the defeat of international communism
The extent of the crimes of the communists is not commonly understood. At a scholarly level, the horror has been known and accepted for decades but this knowledge has not yet filtered down to the public. Perhaps the most authoritative source on the crimes is the The Black Book of Communism. Drawn up about five years after the Gotterdammerung of communism in the eastern bloc it remains the most complete source on the crimes even today. Within the first few pages, the death tolls of the various regimes are laid out, coming to a grand total of 100 million (100,000,000) deaths.
Statistics speaking of deaths of the order of magnitude one would expect in a world war takes away some of the humanity involved. The cruelty, hatred and unadulterated evil of the crimes offend the imagination to even conceptualize. What conveys more weight than the raw numbers are the words of the people who ordered the killings. A particularly chilling example is found in a telegram sent by Lenin discussing an uprising by peasants and industrial workers which he delusionally thought was a kulak conspiracy.
“Comrades! The Kulak uprising in your districts must be crushed without pity. The interests of the whole revolution demand such actions, for the final struggle with the kulaks has begun. You must make an example of these people. (1) Hang (and I mean publically so that people see it) at least 100 Kulaks, rich bastards and known bloodsuckers. (2) Publish their names. (3) Seize all their grain. (4) Single out the hostages per my instructions in yesterday’s telegram. Do this all so that for miles around see, understand it, tremble and tell themselves that we are killing the bloodthirsty Kulaks and will continue to do so. Reply saying that you have received and carried out these instructions. Yours, Lenin. P.S. Find tougher people.” –Vladimir Lenin quoted in The Black Book of Communism
Lenin’s coldness in the telegram sums up the attitude of the communist authorities in the countries they enslaved. The same coldness produced the same atrocities. The torture doled out by the Soviet Cheka and NKVD was mirrored from Romania to North Korea. Starvation was mirrored from Ukraine to China. Mass killings from Hungary to Cambodia.
America played a key role in the death of communism. They were fought on battlefields in the mountains of Korea, the island of Grenada and the fields of Vietnam. By proxy, they were fought in Afghanistan, Angola and elsewhere. The arms race precipitated by the United States drove the Warsaw Pact into spending spiral which accelerated the decline. No matter how it is viewed, the United States played a major role in stamping out the bulk of communism from the world. This Thanksgiving, America should be thankful that the collapse came when it did and that the red tide never reached our shores.
Americans should be thankful for the republican mode of government we enjoy
The United States was founded on the self-evident truths of the Declaration in order to secure the rights guaranteed to them as Englishmen. When the crown refused to treat the English colonists as citizens but instead as serfs, the rebellion began. Victory in the revolution meant victory for liberty. It meant that America would be “A republic, if [we] can keep it.” We have no nobles and no king. Our military is apolitical and swears allegiance to no party or politician. Our popularly elected legislators and executive magistrates run the country. Our people have enough guns to fight a war by themselves. Yes, Benjamin Franklin could have said that “we have seen the future, and it works” in reference to our Constitutional experiment all those hundreds of years ago.
Unfortunately the rust of creeping government expansion, the will to surrender liberties for security and popular passions have made the foundations of our liberties creak and groan. We have lost ground but by and large, freedom still works in America. Though tarnished by the fallout of our own political sins, the republic remains.
One cannot say this about many countries around the globe. Freedom House is the most respected player in measuring the state of freedom around the world (hence the name). They empirically measure how countries are faring on the ground taking into account the actions of the police and military, laws being passed, what leaders are saying and the like. Their results have not been encouraging for some time. As per the most recent Freedom in the World report,
“In 2018, Freedom in the World recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. The overall losses are still shallow compared with the gains of the late 20th century, but the pattern is consistent and ominous. Democracy is in retreat.”-Freedom House
While Freedom House is careful to say this is not a world-end catastrophe, the fact remains that freedom is losing. Gains are eroding in nations which made great strides in the last decade of the 20th century and the first few years of the 21st. Where democracy was well established, the losses are mounting with the same report stating that, “Of the 41 countries that were consistently ranked Free from 1985 to 2005, 22 have registered net score declines in the last five years.”
Throughout her history, the United States has remained a stalwart symbol of freedom for the downtrodden of the world. While other nations rose and fell, America stood as a constant and unchanging society where men lived in freedom. Even when the yoke of tyranny ensconced most of the world, this nation was defiant. Still today, this defiance persists and this Thanksgiving Americans should be thankful for the same.
Americans should be thankful that our vote matters
2016 was a contentious election. The news media portrayed a country torn between left and right; a country on the brink of violence in the streets and civil war. Three years ago, the right prevailed and Donald Trump became president in one of the biggest upsets in American history. Next year, he will be up for re-election facing an as of yet undetermined Democrat. Who will win is anyone’s guess. The beauty of it is that it’s all up to us. The American people are masters of their own destiny. Suffrage is universal for citizens over the age of 18 with some exceptions for felons. Anyone can run for office (socialist Eugene Debs once ran for president from federal prison and got hundreds of thousands of votes). Some states allow the voters to voter for literally anyone –even if the candidate didn’t file paperwork. In America, our vote matters and this is not something that can be said of all countries.
Take Russia for example. Putin ran for his fourth six year term in 2018. Ran should be in quotation marks because the election was flagrantly unfair. His main opponent was disqualified by a criminal conviction that Freedom House calls “politically motivated.” The report on Russia from the same watchdog group calls into question the source of the funding of his campaign, irregularities in the vote counting among other abuses. Of course, rigging elections is not new to Russia. Their perpetually corrupt government has been doing it for a long time and likely will keep doing it for a long time to come. One way to look at it is if the Kremlin is powerful enough to meddle in American elections, imagine what it’s doing to Russian elections.
The same occurrence played out in July of this year when independent candidates running for Moscow city council positions were barred from doing so. Riots ensued. In typical Russian fashion, the regime clamped down with an iron fist. Putin’s thugs decked out in armor and batons took to the streets and cleared the demonstration. The sentences handed down to the political prisoners were excessively long with some going as long as four years. In response, new protests cropped up in September to demand the release of the imprisoned from the last protest. Police said 20,000 demonstrated in the 2nd round but anti-government groups said the number was 25,000. The number for the 1st round was reportedly around 60,000 and topped all Moscow protests in recent memory.
America has very stormy politics. This has been a constant since the beginning and there is no reason to think it will ever change and nor should it. Outside the Era of Good Feelings where the Democratic-Republican Party maintained a monopoly on power, government has been divided as a rule. With the exception of small aberrations like Adam’s Alien and Sedition Acts, Wilson’s Espionage Act and Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War, all of which were shot down within a few years, nothing resembling tyranny has happened on US soil. The events happening in Russia do not happen in the United States. There has been a checkered history with voting, particularly in the solidly Democratic south but those days are long gone. This Thanksgiving, Americans should be glad that their vote matters and what recently went down in Moscow would not happen here.
As a bonus thing to be thankful for, Hillary Clinton is not the president.
Disclaimer: The author is well aware the article is late and offer apologies.
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