Each summer, I spend several months at Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs, Colorado. While I am here, I give pro-life lectures as well as lectures on student free speech rights. Many of the students who attend Summit’s two-week worldview conferences ask me questions about how best to deal with difficult teachers and professors. Just this morning, a student asked such a question that was so important it requires a column-length response. First, let me supply a little background information.
The student in question attends a public high school. Last year, he took a world geography class that was taught by a socialist. In the class, the teacher tried to advance his socialist ideas. In the process, he claimed that a) communist countries founded on Marxist principles are “not that bad,” and that b) students’ unfavorable impression of communist nations is the result of brainwashing by their parents.
That kind of indoctrination is arrogant. It is also disappointing for at least two reasons. First of all, we expect to hear about socialist professors using the college classroom for indoctrination. But it is truly disappointing to hear this happening in a high school setting. Second, it is deeply disappointing to hear of teachers going beyond merely propping up socialism (to the point of defending communist regimes) and actually attacking the students’ parents in the process. These parents are the very people who pay the taxes that allow the teacher to earn a living.
Obviously, a careful response to such arrogance is in order. But not until a couple of guidelines are laid out for students. They follow in reverse order of importance:
1. The first guideline is that students who take on socialist teachers must be mindful of the fact that there is no chance that they will influence the teacher. Their real target is the impressionable student who needs to have a stone planted in his shoe to get him to critically evaluate the teacher’s indoctrination.
2. The second guideline is that under no circumstances should the anti-socialist student make an affirmative argument in favor of capitalism. If he does that, then the teacher will simply respond with a canned answer that he has contemplated previously. A far better approach is to hit the socialist teacher with tough questions, which force the socialist to defend the record of socialism as it has actually been implemented in communist regimes throughout history.
There are many questions that can be used to plant a stone in the shoe of students while undermining the efficacy of the indoctrinator who is posing as an educator. In fact, I have several that I provide for students who are forced to take the classes taught by the committed Marxists in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at UNC-Wilmington (where I teach). One such colleague actually teaches students that capitalist nations are more likely to kill their own citizens than communist nations.
One source I have found to be indispensable in confronting communist apologists is The Black Book of Communism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999, page 4). The book contains some vital statistics that I’ve used to formulate tough questions that can be used by students tired of in-class indoctrination. I have modified them to match the specific case brought to my attention this morning.
1. Communist China has killed at least 65 million of its own citizens. Would you say that communism was “not that bad” for those 65 million murdered citizens? Before you answer, note that my source is not my parents. My source is an academic book published by Harvard University Press.
2. According to the same source, the Soviet Union killed at least 20 million of its own citizens. Would you say that communism was “not that bad” for those 20 million murdered citizens?
3. According to the same source, communist North Korea has killed at least two million of its own citizens. Would you say that communism was “not that bad” for those two million murdered citizens?
4. According to the same source, communist Cambodia has killed at least two million of its own citizens. Would you say that communism was “not that bad” for those two million murdered citizens?
5. Finally, and still according to the same source, Vietnam has killed at least one million of its own citizens. Would you say that communism was “not that bad” for those one million murdered citizens?
In all likelihood, the student will not get past the first couple of questions before the socialist indoctrinator has an emotional meltdown that rivals Chernobyl. But when he does recover, the student can also hit him with the following thought experiment, which is followed by one last question:
Imagine there are two countries. One country has so many illegal immigrants crossing its borders that it has to build a wall to keep them out. The other country has to build a wall just to keep its own citizens in. Which country would you say is “not that bad?” (Author note to the historically ignorant socialist: This is a blatant attempt to compare America with East Germany, which actually called itself a “democratic” socialist republic).
Students who are tired of socialist professors using the classroom as a political platform should feel free to use any of my questions in class without attribution. If they are subjected to retaliation, they should also feel free to send an email to my official address at UNC-Wilmington. I’ll be glad to intervene on their behalf and defend each student’s right to present fair questions to their unfair and grossly historically ignorant professors.
These professors exhibit what Thomas Sowell refers to as the willingness of many to sacrifice integrity to the truth in order to advance a cause. That lack of integrity was a key factor in the success of communists who imposed their horrors with impunity. And history will repeat itself if we are unwilling to confront Marxist apologists who masquerade as competent educators.