Bush pays tribute as memorial to communism’s victims unveiled by Jitendra Joshi
Tue Jun 12, 6:13 PM ET
US President George W. Bush Tuesday likened the Cold War to today’s struggle against terrorism at the unveiling of a new memorial that mourns the tens of millions killed under communism.
The memorial, a replica of the Tiananmen Square “Goddess of Democracy,” was dedicated 20 years to the day since Bush’s predecessor Ronald Reagan stood at the infamous barrier dividing Berlin and urged Moscow to “tear down this wall.”
“And like the communists, the followers of violent Islamic radicalism are doomed to fail,” said Bush, who has often compared Islamist extremists to Germany’s Nazis or Soviet communists.
“By remaining steadfast in freedom’s cause, we will ensure that a future American president does not have to stand in a place like this and dedicate a memorial to the millions killed by the radicals and extremists of the 21st century,” he said.
The bronze memorial near the US Congress is modeled on the papier-mache statue raised by pro-democracy demonstrators on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square before they were massacred by Chinese troops in June 1989.
Accusing the West of having a “moral blind spot” to communism, backers of the Washington tribute said: “We cannot allow the atrocities of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Castro to fade into the background of history.”
Dissidents from China, Vietnam and Cuba urged global opinion to remember those who still suffer persecution in surviving communist regimes.
Pedro Fuentes, who spent 18 years in Cuba in jail or under house arrest, called communism “the biggest tragedy that has ever happened in the world.”
“We will continue fighting until the last breath,” he told a seminar organized by the conservative Heritage Foundation to mark the memorial’s inauguration.
The Chinese term “laogai,” which describes “reform through labor” camps, should become as commonly known in the West as the Russian word “gulag,” Chinese activist Harry Wu said.
Wu, who spent 19 years in such camps, dismissed Western governments and companies that argue economic engagement with China will transform its one-party rule and human-rights record.
“Saying this is an attempt to convince me to believe that money can change a tiger into a vegetarian,” he told the seminar.
“But I think the money and technology going to China serve as a blood transfusion to a dying communist evil.”
The non-profit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation was created by the US Congress in 1993 with the aim of emulating memorials to victims of Nazi totalitarian rule.
The foundation’s honorary chairman is President Bush, and its principal officers include conservative luminaries such as historian Lee Edwards and Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist.
“While the horrors of Nazism are well known, who knows that the Soviet Union murdered 20 million people? Who knows that China’s dictators have slaughtered an estimated 60 million?” the foundation said.
Along with World War II and Vietnam War memorials, Washington also has a national Holocaust museum dedicated to the approximately six million Jews killed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazis.
Supporters of the memorial said that many more millions were murdered or starved to death under the brutal persecution of communist leaders like Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
“Yet, until now, our nation’s capital had no monument to the victims of imperial communism, an ideology that took the lives of an estimated 100 million innocent men, women and children,” Bush said.
“So it’s fitting that we gather to remember those who perished at communism’s hands, and dedicate this memorial that will enshrine their suffering and sacrifice in the conscience of the world.”