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How Did America Forget What ‘Socialist’ Means?

March 22, 2016

With Obama cuddling up to Cuba, it’s time to remind ourselves of the evils of socialism.


Today, in America, for the first time in nearly a century, socialism is not a dirty word, or a shunned label, for many people. On the contrary. President Barack Obama, with a minimum of controversy, has reopened relations with the unabashedly socialist regime in Cuba, demanding almost no concessions in exchange for becoming the first U.S. president in 88 years to visit the island. (Indeed, on the eve of the president’s arrival, Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that Cuba—together with China—was committed to the “irreversibility of socialism.”)

Meanwhile, the overwhelming and seemingly improbable support among America’s youth for the 74-year-old Bernie Sanders—a self-described democratic socialist who once proudly defended communist dictatorships across the world—is the latest example of a historical illiteracy that treats socialism as a benign economic system that is more equitable and fair than capitalism.


Today, 20 percent of the world’s population continues to live under communist regimes, in China, Vietnam, Cuba, Laos and North Korea. These countries are some of the worst violators of human rights in history. China operates its own “gulag” system of labor camps for political prisoners. The Castros in Cuba—the Obama administration’s newest friends—routinely throw their opponents in prison, despite Raúl Castro’s misleading comments at his news conference with Obama on Monday. 

At the time of publishing, Marion Smith was executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Originally published in Politico.

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