Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself,” said Mark Twain.
Fittingly, our politicians keep stumbling, some quitting and others being voted out for being even more idiotic than their colleagues, others ousted for being too sloppy in the way they grabbed the cash or pocketed the kickbacks, others cast aside when their hypocrisy splashed into the public arena.
“The politician is an acrobat,” said Maurice Barres, French novelist and politician. “He keeps his balance by saying the opposite of what he does.”
Will Rogers had it right: “I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.”
On the larger issue of war, the practice of old men sending the young to die while the profiteers enlarge their assets and cheer on the conflicts, I asked an acquaintance of mine, a local shopkeeper who emigrated from South Vietnam, if he watched the PBS series “The Vietnam War.”
“I didn’t” he said. “American television doesn’t show the good that American soldiers did in Vietnam or the bad the communists did.”
He explained that the Vietnamese communists put his father in jail and damaged his health. “I’m not good today because my father cannot walk right because of what they did to him,” he said. “I have to take him to the doctor later today.”
Subservience was mandatory, he explained: “If you did not stay quiet and do what was expected of you, the communists put you in jail, tortured you and let you die, or
they killed you.”
Many were massacred not for what they did but for who they were. Landowners and mandarins were liquidated because of their family backgrounds. Intellectuals were punished for their autonomy. Literary reviews were replaced with reeducation camps.
An article in the official organ of the Indochinese Communist Party, Nhan da, declared that “the landowning classes will never be quiet until they have been eliminated.” In short, the collectivists called for the achievement of silence via mass murder, the realization of land reform and
classlessness by way of property theft, redistribution and savagery.
An official communist censor and writer, To Huu, penned this poem: “Kill, kill again, let your hands never stop, let fields and paddyfields produce rice in abundance, so that taxes can be paid at once, let us march together with the same heart, so that the Party may last forever, let us adore Chairman Mao and build an eternal cult to Stalin.”
Huu didn’t write any poetry about the slaughters by Mao and Stalin or the 100 million deaths that occurred in order to install and maintain communist regimes -- 65 million deaths in China, 24 million in the U.S.S.R. -- crimes against humanity committed via forced-labor camps, massacres, hanging,
mass deportation, firing squads, poisoning, incarceration, man-made famines and targeted starvation.
The words often attributed to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin: “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”
To put this in perspective, the deaths of 100 million people in order to impose and compel a catastrophic political and economic system amounted to the elimination of 190,114 human lives for each word in this column.
Ralph R. Reiland is Associate Professor of Economics Emeritus at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.
Ralph R. Reiland
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15236