“Ignore them.” The older woman on the other end angrily responded. “Stupid! They have no idea how easy it is for them. Didn’t they read your book or at least hear your story?” The young woman at the other end smiled as she listened to the woman speaking in their mother tongue. “I do not know. I try not to bring attention to myself. I was just so surprised at their reaction.” The older woman responded. “Fine, but you continue to read those books, no matter what those foolish girls say. Those stories are ageless. Remember, the writing took place in the context of another time and place. Listen to me, daughter. We have been through enough. Most in this country could not bear what happened to you. Promise me you will not fall prey to this propaganda. Remember your strength and faith. That is what helped us survive. ” The young woman could hear her mother’s voice cracking with emotion. She became tearful herself. “Yes, Mother. I promise you.” After expressing love with kisses and hugs, the young woman ended the call and wiped away the tears.
The young woman stood up and went to the mirror. She pulled her shoulders back and smiled. “I need to adjust my makeup,” as she studied her face. Suddenly, as she is looking at her reflection, a flashback materializes. Leering faces come at her. The lovely woman begins to shake. She closes her eyes and remembers more. Revolving men from the shadows enter her vision. It seems one after another, barely distinguishable from one another. Bodily memories unfold. Now she feels the hands and mouths all over her outward being, experiencing the burning pain in her sacred parts. Next, the smells and tastes come forth, reminding her of the unspeakable acts required of her toward these strange people in a strange land. The young woman begins to feel nauseous. She sits down on the chair, gripping the arms and breathing slowly, trying to reorient herself to the present. “Change the scene,” she tells herself.
Now, as the panic begins to subside, she pulls on another memory. She sees the vast desert. She is exhausted and thirty. The young woman looks at her mother, who returns a loving gaze with a smile, appearing like a pillar of strength. “My beautiful and courageous daughter, stay strong. The worst is over. Eventually, we will reach that place so many wish they could go.”
The young woman holds onto that memory which always empowers her. She reminds herself of her origins. She thinks about the people left behind in that cavernous, oppressive country. Word has it that suffering has not abated for her people. The young woman wonders about her relatives and hopes they survive the horrible conditions inflicted upon them. She says a prayer as she regularly does. Hugging herself, the young woman silently celebrates her good fortune, determined to continue pursuing goals that benefit others. She will not forget about the kind people who assisted her and her mother on this treacherous journey leading them to freedom.
The young woman glances at her bookshelf. She cocks her head as she views the spectacular books she read from novelists of long ago. The young woman walks toward the bookcase and begins to peruse all the titles of the books she has collected over the years. She pulled out a couple of her favorites, gently caressing one in particular. “Yes, I will not bow to this absurd view about a great author.” The young woman laughed to herself with thoughts of her mother. “We made it to the land of the free and home of the brave. For the rest of my life, I will cherish this remarkable place that I now have the privilege of calling home.”
Author’s Note: Yeonmi Park is a North Korean defector and human rights activist. With her mother, she fled North Korea to China. At some point, they fell into the hands of human sex traffickers and sold into slavery, eventually escaping and traveling through the Gobi Desert to Mongolia.
With the Fourth of July upon us, I thought it was important for all of us never to forget the freedoms bestowed on those born in our imperfect but magnificent country. I decided to weave a story about this valiant woman after hearing her express concerns about our country. Recently, Ms. Park indicated that her experiences while attending an Ivy League college left her with an upsetting impression. She saw similarities with the totalitarian environment from which she escaped. When she told a staff member her love for the books by Jane Austen, they chastised her for reading this racist material. She was appalled by the indoctrination occurring in these purportedly enlightened schools of thought. Because of the fear of cancel culture, she hesitated to speak her mind and viewed this trend as a sad “irony.”
Whether or not people agree with Ms. Park, communism has stealthily entrenched itself in our society for the last hundred years. Those from the Frankfurt school, including Herbert Marcuse, were very influential on the college campuses in the nineteen sixties. The Italian communist philosopher Antonio Gramsci would be proud to see “the long march through the institutions” is taking place as he suggested, co-opting society through schools, universities, courts, corporations to effect revolutionary change.
I would suggest people read The Devil’s Pleasure Palace by Michael Walsh. Until I read his book a few years ago, I never heard of the Frankfurt School.
Many people suggest that a specific type of education regarding the oppressor versus the oppressed should be a staple of the American education system. Along with many, I beg to differ. More significantly, the lessons about the true nature of communism should be required teaching to the increasingly sheltered students in our country. Most people are unaware that the 20th century rendered one of the bloodiest and most shameful eras in history, with communism murdering over 100 million people. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler (National Socialist Party), Mussolini, Mao, Pol Pot, the Castro brothers, Kim Jong Il and Um, are among many of these tyrants who used violence to impose a totalitarian iron clamp over their countries. Some had a nationalistic strain, but all were various flavors of a humungous government with the ultimate aim of power and control.
If anyone believes they can make a bargain with the devil of communism, read Faust. Such hope is a Faustian fantasy. The communists knew that the United States would not be an easy conquer. Why? They could not use the class system as their fuel. What have they chosen instead? Race.
During these most divisive and troubling times where athletes can turn their back on our flag and anthem, even those of us who find this distasteful, to say the least, know they have the right to express themselves. Try performing that defiance in China, maybe Russia, Cuba, and the tremendous terrorist state of all, Iran, a country that not long ago executed a famous athlete for speaking out.
God Bless America, our imperfect but shining city on a hill.