Arizona Lawmaker Introduces Bill Requiring Schools To Teach About Harms Of Communism


Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

An Arizona state GOP lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require schools to teach about the harms of communist regimes, including such ills as poverty, suppression of speech, and systemic lethal violence.

PHOENIX, AZ – JANUARY 17: View of the Arizona State Capitol building on January 17, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered at state capitol buildings throughout the nation today to protest the presidential election results and the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

House Bill 2629, which amends parts of the Arizona Revised Statutes to bolster educational programs, includes two key parts: a mandatory classroom instruction on the ills of communism and the establishment of Nov. 7 as a commemorative “Victims of Communism Day” to be observed in Arizona public schools.

“Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year any American government course required for graduation from high school must include at least forty-five minutes of instruction on the history of communist regimes around the world and the prevalence of poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence and suppression of speech under communist regimes,” the bill’s text reads.

State Rep. Ben Toma introduced the bill on Jan. 23 in the Arizona State Legislature, where it’s scheduled for a Jan. 31 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Toma told Arizona Capital Times in an interview that being compassionate and helping the downtrodden is good, but he said communism pushes redistribution of resources at the point of a gun, a kind of “forced charity” that he said leads to slaughter.

“And, secondly, it doesn’t work in the real world,” he insisted. “It doesn’t work anywhere.”

Evils of Communism in Curriculum

The bill’s text indicates that “Victims of Communism Day” would not be a legal holiday, meaning no time off. Rather, it would be observed in schools, which would provide instruction on that day (or an alternate one if school isn’t in session on that day) on the harms of communism.

A curriculum would be developed, which would include such components as instruction on former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution in China. Under the CCP’s rule, it is estimated that between 60 million and 80 million people were killed, exceeding the total number of casualties in both World Wars combined.

Other possible choices for instruction on that day would be about Nicolás Maduro and the Chavismo movement, Joseph Stalin and the Soviet system, or Vladimir Lenin and the Russian Revolution.

Demonstrators protest against the government of Nicolás Maduro on the main avenue of Las Mercedes, municipality of Baruta, in Caracas, Venezuela, on Feb. 2, 2019. Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images

The issue is personal for Mr. Toma, whose family fled then-communist Romania when he was a child.

“It’s not just my background,” he told Arizona Capitol Times. “It’s the background of many other people including currently in China, in North Korea, Vietnam, places like that that still have communism, that still have to deal with it.

“Not to mention the amount of damage and, again, the millions or hundreds of millions that have lost their lives, or more,” he added.

A chapter on the CCP’s history of killing—which is part of a broader publication by The Epoch Times on the harms of communism, titled “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party”—discusses how killing in communist regimes has both practical and ideological roots.

“Mass murders during the Cultural Revolution established, culturally and politically, the CCP’s absolute leadership,” the publication states.

“The Tiananmen Square massacre was used to prevent political crisis and squelch democratic demands. The persecution of Falun Gong is meant to resolve the issues of belief and traditional healing,” it continues.

Communist persecution of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa—a peaceful spiritual practice—has involved various inhumane tactics, including torture, sexual abuse, and the widely condemned practice of forced organ harvesting, as outlined in a recent report.

Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to mark the 24th anniversary of the persecution of the spiritual discipline in China by the Chinese Communist Party in Washington on July 20, 2023. The pictures they are holding are of those who have been persecuted to death. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Other Anti-Communist Efforts

Besides Mr. Toma’s bill, there have been other legislative efforts to expose the harms of communism or oppose its spread in the United States.

In October 2023, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill aimed at preventing the Chinese regime from influencing the State Department.

The bill, called the No CCP Consultants Act, would prohibit the secretary of state from entering into, renewing, or extending contracts relating to “advisory and assistance services” with certain entities, including the governments of China and Russia.

“We must guard against the Chinese Communist Party and its web of espionage,” Mr. Green said in a statement to The Epoch Times on Oct. 31.

In March 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to punish communist China for its forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.

H.R. 1154, dubbed the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2023, passed by a vote of 413–2. It would sanction anyone involved in the act and require annual government reporting on such activities taking place in foreign countries.

It would also punish those found to be involved in forced organ harvesting: a civil penalty of up to $250,000 and a criminal penalty of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the principal sponsor of the bill, told The Epoch Times ahead of the floor vote that the measure’s “got real teeth” and that he hoped it would become law.

“This is an atrocity, this is a crime against humanity, and it’s a war crime, because this is a war on innocent people in China, and [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping is directly responsible. Those who willingly engage in this will be held responsible,” he said of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) speaks during a hearing about “Corporate Complicity: Subsidizing the PRC’s Human Rights Violations” in Washington on July 11, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Smith said the bill could cover anyone who participates in forced organ harvesting, including patients who receive the organs.

“If there’s willful knowledge that is being stolen from a Falun Gong practitioner, or anyone else, then they could be held criminally and civilly liable,” he said.

“How do you know on a certain date you’re going to have a liver all ready to go? That’s because they kill the individual in order to get that. They murdered them,” he added, referring to cases of Chinese hospitals promising to deliver vital organs on a specified date, a process that experts have said is impossible under voluntary organ donor programs.

Israel, Taiwan, Italy, and Spain have banned organ transplant tourism.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) were among more than a dozen lawmakers leading the measure’s companion version in the Senate.

Both measures were referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, where they remain.

Bill Boosts US-China Spending Transparency

Earlier this month, Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced legislation calling for increased transparency from the federal government regarding funds flowing to companies in China.

The bill, titled “Our Money in China Transparency Act,” requires the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies to submit annual, detailed reports regarding taxpayers’ money spent on any federal program, project, or activity related to institutions or entities associated with the Chinese regime.

“We know that Communist China does its best to hide the finances of its government and businesses from Americans,” Mr. Scott said in a statement.

The legislation also tracks federal spending on federal-funded entities, including American universities’ China-based campuses.

Aaron Pan, Eva Fu, and Andrew Moran contributed to this report.

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