Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
America had good reason to be hostile to Communism.
Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada. Normally, we gather at cenotaphs across the nation, unfurl flags, play bagpipes, lay wreaths, and observe two minutes of silence for our war dead.
In the small town in which I reside, Main Street is closed to vehicular traffic, and many hundreds of citizens – from school children to aged uniformed veterans – faithfully assemble no matter how inclement the weather. Our town is, after all, surrounded by farmland. Farming families are a principal source of the young men who are sent into battle.
The Canadian Legion is the main organizer of Remembrance Day ceremonies. Normally, hot soup and steaming coffee are served afterward at Legion halls. In this pandemic year, some ceremonies have been cancelled, and Legions aren’t inviting crowds inside. Commemorating the fallen must happen in other ways.
Few people remember much about the Korean War. The short version is that, 70 years ago this year, Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union orchestrated the invasion of South Korea by North Korea. Mao Zedong’s Communist China also joined the fray.
Leftist rhetoric has long painted capitalist countries as imperialist empire builders, and communist countries as peace loving bystanders. But in 1950, a mere five years after the end of World War II, when the UK was still enduring post-war food rationing, Communist governments recklessly tried to grab more territory. They invaded South Korea with tanks, sparking a major new conflict.
The Korean War was a war against Stalin and Mao – ruthless dictators who’d promised utopia to their own populations, and instead delivered starvation, torment, and mass murder.
Technically, multiple UN countries defended South Korea during this three-year war. 90,000+ British soldiers served, as did 27,000 Canadians, and 17,000 Australians. Between us, we three nations lost 2,000 lives. The lion’s share of the fighting and the dying was, in fact, borne by America. An estimated 1.8 million US troops participated. 34,000 Americans perished, and 100,000 more were wounded.
The BBC calls the Korean War the Forgotten War. Our short memories prevent us from understanding many of the historical events that followed. The ‘Red Scare’ in America is now portrayed as unfounded hysteria, as a product of fevered imaginations and paranoia.
But in America, in the 1950s, Communists were bona fide military aggressors. Communist governments had plunged the world into a major new conflict. A world already weary of war was now back at it.
Big surprise that the American soldiers who fought in that war, and the families who experienced this new wave of loss, were hostile to Communism.