Dickie Rose made some very worthwhile observations in his Aug. 5 letter about history's murderous regimes.
Historically, it is helpful to recall that those who bravely opposed the brutal Soviet regime from within were that nation's liberals. They were attempting to liberalize a repressive conservative regime. That government only gave way to reform as liberals such as Gorbachev, Shevardnadze and Yeltsin ascended to power.
Similarly, in communist China the Chinese who demonstrated in Tiananmen Square were mostly liberal students from liberal colleges advancing liberal ideas like liberty and civil rights. They were slaughtered by a repressive and profoundly conservative regime.
In Cuba today it is the liberal media and intellectual elite (writers, editors, scholars and similar liberals) who languish in the jails of a deeply reactionary Castro government (as they did in the jails of Fulgencio Batista, Cuba's conservative dictator before Castro).
Our own country is not far removed from the days when conservative state and local regimes in the South enforced brutal segregation laws (the laws on which Hitler modeled his exclusionary laws), and sanctioned lynchings. But then along came those liberals on their freedom rides. Conservatives in the mid-19th century embraced and fought for slavery while liberal abolitionists promoted freedom.
In 18th century America, liberals established a country based on radically liberal principles. Colonial conservatives (Tories) preferred living under the British royal aristocracy and opposed American independence and freedom.
And the American conservative movement has long supported and idolized conservative dictators in the Pacific, Middle East, Central and South America, dictators who repress and kill the liberal elements in their societies that are seeking liberty and civil rights.
Conservative governments have always been relentlessly hostile to liberty and civil rights, and it makes no difference whether their prevailing economic model is communism or crony capitalism. Around the world it is liberal progressive social democracy that consistently promotes freedom and guarantees civil rights (and produces widespread prosperity as a by-product).
Twenty-five years ago when its right wing extremists took over the party the Republicans adopted the term "conservative" as a marketing slogan. More recently they've started using the marketing slogans "life" and "freedom." As a look at history shows, the latter two terms are completely incompatible with the former.
Donald R. Douglas
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