Survivors of communism are concerned about America's future as they see Marxism spreading in academia and Americans being too cowardly to speak out and stand up against the ideology.
Human Events and the Liberty Forum of Silicon Valley recently hosted "Paying The Price: Victims of Communism Panel," in which five survivors of communist regimes shared their stories and warned about where America appears headed.
Tatiana Menaker, a refusenik who escaped from the Soviet Union after not being allowed to emigrate, said that when she attended San Francisco State University, she "found such brainwashing machine of Marxism, which I even didn't have in Russia, in the Soviet Union. American professors are all in delirium of Marxism."
Menaker also recalled how she "was kicked five times from Facebook, seven times from Quora. Actually, censorship in America reminds me of my old Soviet Union."
"I feel I am at home now, finally," she also said, laughing.
Menaker later added: "Americans used to be nations of brave. Now it's a nation of cowards. [I]t's not tyrants who create slaves. It's slaves who create tyrants. And Americans became slavish. We do whatever we're told to do. They give everything we're asked to give. It's Soviet Union."
She explained how other Russian immigrants in her community are "mourning America we came to. We came to different America. Completely different."
Menaker argued the streets of San Francisco are now dirty because they're not being cleaned as often, while the mayor is instead focusing on banning plastic straws.
To be sure, San Francisco has one of the worst homeless problems in the country, which has resulted in unsanitary and unsafe conditions in parts of the city, on streets and sidewalks.
Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, late last year declared a state of emergency for one of the city's hardest-hit neighborhoods and implored police to clean up the "nasty streets." However, several month's later there appears to be little signs of improvement.
"[O]ne hospital uses more plastic than the whole United States uses plastic straws, OKAY? And those idiots spend time on total idiotic projects – totally idiotic. And, you know, Americans are silent – we're totally silent. This is what's scary. You guys became Soviets. It's not like your government became Soviet, Americans became Soviet. We're scared. We're cowards."
Peter Wolf escaped from East Germany when it was part of the Soviet Union. He said that he's told his story at multiple universities, high schools and church groups, and would always start with saying that he grew up in a communist country.
"And one of the young men one time asked, 'So what's wrong with communism, anyway?' And all of a sudden, I realized that these young people have no idea what communism was all about," Wolf said.
Now he starts off his talks by explaining that "Communism gives you free housing, free education, free medical care, free childcare, and free vacations. Doesn't sound that bad, does it? But there's a catch. And the catch is that everything is owned, or operated, by the government. Every aspect."
Wolf also said: "You had to ask permission where you want to travel, what movies you wanted to watch was restricted, what kind of music you could listen to, what news you would hear and see, what appliances you could own.
"If you were a good communist, maybe they would give you a TV or a refrigerator. If not, you wouldn't get it. How much money you could save. Going to church was forbidden, as I mentioned before – it was a weakness.
"You had no freedom. You were watched all the time, children were asked to spy on their parents. People lived in constant fear, there was no hope."
He also said that someone in the town he lived at least once a month would commit suicide.
"It was not uncommon at all, people were just so hopeless," he said. "That's what communism is all about."
Peter Palecek, who lived in Czechoslovakia, called Americans to action by noting that only a small percentage of the population believes in communism, and that the rest must fight against it.
"In communism, it's some 5% of the population – a gang of naive fanatics – creating their new class, trying to impose Marxist tyranny by terrorizing and enslaving the other 95%. You now know that communism is extremely cruel, unbearably oppressive, brings nothing but misery, loss, and death. Don't let this marvelous country of yours — of ours — fall under communism."
Antonio Benedi, a Cuban refugee and former special assistant to President George H. W. Bush, told Just the News on Friday that there are parallels between the communist regime in Cuba and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"Parallels with what is happening now have to do with the liberty of people to live their lives in peace, anyway they want," Benedi said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is invading Ukraine, a "democratic country, to have the breadbasket of Europe on his side."
In a Facebook post, Benedi wrote, "As a refugee from Communism in Cuba, I know first hand of the rampage and crimes against the Cuban people ... .The world stayed silent. If the Cuban freedom fighters of the Bay of Pigs were not left on the beach to be slaughtered, Cuba would be free today. History repeating itself. It’s our turn to do something, not to do nothing."
Benedi also said that under the Biden administration, "there's no leadership or unity. The world looks at the United States and there's nothing there."
He argued people need to "speak up" and "do something," and that the world and the U.S. need "to be more proactive" than during the world wars.
"It took Pearl Harbor to wake us up – that shouldn't be," he said. We should learn from history and stop evil when we see it coming."