Early this morning, I read Jeff Jacoby's most recent column. Jeff is one of my favorite writers, frequently creating pieces well worth reading.
I REGRET that it was only upon reading his obituary this month that I first learned of Nguyen Chi Thien. He was a courageous Vietnamese dissident who had spent nearly 30 years in prison for his opposition to communist repression, cruelty, and lies.
By coincidence, the same newspaper page that carried Nguyen's obituary also ran a much longer story about Eric Hobsbawm, the famous British historian who died on Oct. 1 of pneumonia at age 95. The two men could hardly have been less alike.ist repression, cruelty, and lies.
Like Jacoby, I had never heard of Nguyen Chi Thien. Yet, as I read through Jacoby's column, Thien's moral choices amazed and impressed me - and the choices of Eric Hobsbawm, another man who recently died, as did Thien, disgusted me.
Hobsbawm, was a lifelong Marxist, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party from his teens until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Long after it was evident to even true believers that the Bolshevik Revolution had unleashed a nightmare of blood, Hobsbawm went on defending, minimizing, and excusing the crimes of communism.
Interviewed on the BBC in 1994 – five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall – he was asked whether he would have shunned the Communist Party had he known in 1934 that Stalin was butchering innocent human beings by the millions. "Probably not," he answered – after all, at the time he believed he was signing up for world revolution. Taken aback by such indifference to carnage, the interviewer pressed the point. Was Hobsbawm saying that if a communist paradise had actually been created, "the loss of 15, 20 million people might have been justified?" Hobsbawm's answer: "Yes."
So many liberals I know applaude "social justice" and the idea that socialism "makes for a better world." These same liberals, however, seem unaware of the atrocities committed, the lack of freedom involved, etc. in the forcing of Communism upon a people.
Hobsbawm was purportedly a history teacher. I cannot help but wonder what sort of "history" he taught. Had his students been told the truth, giving this man applause for his accomplishments would have been an impossibility.