Salon.com is a reliably left-wing media outlet given to regular outbreaks of radical pique that earn top billing on MSNBC’s prime-time panels. Yet even a hawkish outlet like Salon can go too far. On Sunday, Salon’s Jesse Myerson published an article, “Why you’re wrong about communism: 7 huge misconceptions about it (and capitalism),” that attempted to deny the scale of communism’s mass murders, among other dubious claims.
Excusing or minimizing the Holocaust is known as “Holocaust denial,” and those who truck in such crackpot theories are usually (though not always) shunned by serious-minded people. Any media outlet that printed Holocaust denial would immediately be the target of justified criticism, and its staff would feel compelled to distance themselves from the claims of the writer and the decision of the editorial staff to run such rubbish.
Denying the evil of communism is morally and historically equivalent to Holocaust denial. Most of Myerson’s arguments are of the “capitalism is bad, too” variety, arguing the absurdly obvious point that non-communist governments have also committed human rights abuses, and that they rarely live up to purported ideals of freedom. The fact that communism almost always requires such abuses is one Myerson prefers not to notice.
Here is how Myerson defends the millions of murders in the Soviet Union: “For one thing, a large number of the people killed under Soviet communism weren’t the kulaks everyone pretends to care about but themselves communists.” (That makes it all right, somehow–perhaps they were just as willing to commit murder, except that Stalin got to them first.) He also likens the violence in the American Revolution to the Stalinist purges.
Myerson argues that American communism would not be as bad today, and offers this pearl of political realism: “[C]ommunism is an aspiration, not an immediately achievable state.” Just think about that: Salon, a site that is taken seriously as a barometer of intellectual fashion on the left, is running articles not only sanitizing communist dictatorship, but advocating it. No clarification yet from Salon’s leading lights.
The fact that denial of communism is not treated the same way as denial of the Holocaust in part reflects the more obvious antisemitism of Holocaust deniers. Yet it is no less immoral–and the fact that the left, the media and the academy generally deny and excuse communism’s evil as a mere administrative problem rather than a moral one is part of the reason Americans must now suffer such leaders as Bill de Blasio and Barack Obama.