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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Every liberal a socialist? I think not

    Justyn DillinghamEditor-in-Chief
    Justyn Dillingham
    Editor-in-Chief

    It’s not often that foreign leaders manage to beat American right-wingers at their own game, but Czech President Vaclav Klaus may have managed it.

    Last week, as Congress heard speaker after speaker on the issue of global warming, Klaus wrote them an open letter calling environmentalism a dangerous “”religion”” in the tradition of communism and urged them to steer clear of it.

    Let’s see. Communists promised heaven on earth and delivered totalitarian tyranny. Environmentalists ask us to try not to throw beer cans out the window. Not hard to see the similarities there.

    In a weird analogy that sounded like a parody of your typical defense of the free market as the cure to all ills, Klaus declared that “”this ideology … wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central, now global, planning of the whole world.””

    It’s easy enough to pick apart Klaus’s logic – wouldn’t the “”free and spontaneous evolution of mankind”” be interrupted by any sort of laws? But there’s a more troubling trend on display here. When did it become acceptable to condemn any and all reform as closet socialism?

    We’ve all heard Republicans call Hillary Clinton a socialist. We’ve heard everything from Social Security to public transportation condemned in the same light. And we’ve heard Ann Coulter call every Democrat in history pro-communist; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent call for universal health care got him consigned to the same leftist purgatory.

    It might be said that this is just name-calling and ought not to be taken seriously. Who blinks an eye anymore when a leftist compares George W. Bush to Hitler?

    Well, for one thing, that is just name-calling; it’s safe to say even Bush’s noisiest critics don’t expect to be thrown in internment camps tomorrow. But many right-wingers actually seem to buy their own rhetoric when they sling around the dreaded C-word. And they’re every bit as wrong.

    Communism has never had any significant following in the United States. In 1919, when the first anti-communist frenzy swept the nation, registered Communists made up a measly 0.001 percent of the population. I seriously doubt that you’d find a more impressive number today, when genuine communists are about as common as members of the Whig Party.

    If a natural disaster rips apart a city and renders its population homeless and starving, it doesn’t follow that those who think they should not be forced to rely on the whims of benefactors for relief are Marxist revolutionaries.

    That’s not to say that there haven’t been countless idiots on the left, from then to now, who considered that mendacious tyrant Lenin “”the greatest figure in the whole galaxy,”” in historian Herbert Aptheker’s phrase. (OK, he did add “”of world revolutionary leaders.”” But I like it more the other way.)

    But if a mechanic wants a law to protect him from being fired for going on strike, it doesn’t follow that he wants the government to “”take care of him.””

    If a group of farmers want some of their tax dollars returned in the form of relief in the event of a famine, it doesn’t follow that they want their farms to be demolished and to be herded into collective farms.

    If a natural disaster rips apart a city and renders its population homeless and starving, it doesn’t

    follow that those who think they should not be forced to rely on the whims of benefactors for relief are Marxist revolutionaries.

    A recent New York Times survey found that a majority of Americans across the political spectrum believe that all citizens are entitled to health care. Are they socialists without knowing it?

    All of these seem like givens. But to hear right-wingers talk, you’d think that the American people were their own worst enemy.

    Right-wingers are fond of blaming all our current troubles on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. To hear them talk, you’d think the New Deal was an act perpetrated on an unwary people by a scheming despot, instead of a series of reforms that the American people had demanded for years.

    At the time, few thought to compare the New Deal to communism, which wasn’t exactly prospering; the specter usually raised was fascism. Name-calling wasn’t invented last year.

    “”The happiness and prosperity of our citizens is the only legitimate object of government.”” Are those the words of a mad leftist who wants to enslave the people to a “”welfare state””?

    No, those are the words of Thomas Jefferson. And if right-wingers can come up with a way to make Jefferson look like a Marxist revolutionary, I’ll eat this newspaper.

    Justyn Dillingham is copy chief for the Arizona Daily Wildcat and is a junior majoring in political science and history. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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