For those of us born in 1945, the Cold War with Russian communism was all we knew. I was raised in Richmond, California, by three women who were devout Irish Catholics. I attended parochial school, went to weekly mass, took weekly Holy Communion, and served as an altar boy. I was told by all the nuns and priests that communism was a great evil, a threat not only to my country but to my religion. Our Pope, Pius XII, was passionately anti-communist. My duty as a Catholic American was to oppose this evil.
I was a bright little boy, and didn’t just do as I was told. To the extent that I could, I tried to learn about the world, my country, and communism. Everything I learned reinforced my anti-communism. I determined that when I grew up I would fight the communists, in any and every way I could.
As a sophomore at St. Mary’s High School in Berkeley I began writing a column for the student newspaper, and most of my columns were political, and stridently anti-communist. When I was 15 I subscribed to National Review, and became an ardent fan of William F. Buckley. In 1962 I joined the Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Corps at UC Berkeley, and wanted to graduate to a commission in the United States Marine Corps. If war came with the communists, I wanted to fight.
Later while at Cal I was Chairman of the Young Republicans, and a strong supporter of the hard core anti-communist Barry Goldwater. When he lost in 1964 my allegiance switched to Ronald Reagan, and I did all I could to support him, eventually becoming the Chairman of his Alaska campaign in 1980.
My President, Ronald Reagan, and my Pope, John Paul II, worked together to destroy Russian communism, and all my work was rewarded in the most satisfying way. Communism was, indeed, on the ash heap of history.
Except for China, North Korea and Cuba. But the Norks and the Cubans were no threat to the United States, and China had, in the end, helped us defeat the Russian Communists. They didn’t seem a threat, especially when the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping went into effect. He was the effective ruler of China from 1978-1992, or so we all thought. He seemed like a man you could do business with. China would eventually evolve into a normal country. It just needed time, and some prosperity.
How disastrously wrong we all were. Only now, after more than 30 years of trying to placate the Red Chinese, have they shown their true colors. Now you have to be blind not to see the threat they pose. We all get it, left and right. This Cold War will have bipartisan support, just as the first one did. Only just now are we at last uniting as one country to take these evil despots down. And down they will come, to join their Russian fellow communists on history’s ash heap.
Thank God we’ve woken up in time. Including President Trump. He vainly believed his personal charm would allow him to have some sort of friendship with the tyrant of China, Xi Jinping. How spectacularly wrong he was. But he has learned his lesson. Xi is his enemy, not his friend, and an enemy that must be destroyed.
The United States is not in the business of nation building, and what comes to China when the communists are overthrown will be up to the Chinese people. I’d like to think that Chinese-Americans, especially those who will soon be coming here from Hong Kong, will be able to show the long suffering people of China that there is a better way. They, too, are capable of self-governance. If they were to succeed, it would be the first time in their 4,000 year history that they would have a degree of self-rule. What a boon they could be for the whole world if they were democratic, and peaceful, and prosperous. They have so much to offer.
My experience with the Chinese people consists of one evening of conversation, about five years ago. My wife was hosting a hen party, and I had to leave for three days as they engaged in their debauchery. I went south, driving just west of the Sierras, to Sequoia National Park, and in the evening looked for a place to camp. It was getting dark, and I felt extremely fortunate to find an opening. Otherwise, I would have had to drive down a windy mountain road for forty or more miles to try to find a motel.
As I was setting up my cot I saw a young Asian drive along in a cheap rental car. He didn’t look like he knew what he was doing, and I figured he was a tourist, and needed help. I went back to the sign-up station, and when he drove up I explained exactly what he had to do. There was only one camp site left, an undesirable one, right next to mine. He signed up, returned to his site, and unloaded his very modest equipment.
We sat ourselves down at the picnic table and began a conversation. His name was Szu, and he was an environmental engineer from Taiwan. He’d been attending a conference in LA, and had a few days left in the US before he went home. So he rented a car and drove up to the high Sierra. Naturally I took a shine to Szu.
We talked long into the night. He explained his country and his culture. He taught me far more than I ever knew, and I learned a lot. He said native Taiwanese, such as himself, were a different ethnicity than the Han of China. I could see by looking closely at him that this was clearly true. I told him we had a great deal to learn from China. And that they had a great deal to learn from us.
He was 28 years old, but he looked much younger. I showed him the only picture I have in my wallet, of my beautiful nine year old granddaughter, smiling and sitting on my lap with her arm around my shoulder. I told him some day, very, very far in the future, our cultures would join together, and I held up my hands and intertwined my fingers.
As we got up to part ways I looked up, and directly overhead was the Big Dipper. It was a crystal clear night, we were at 6,000 feet, and it was as bright as I’d ever seen it. I took it as an omen. After admiring it for a while we parted ways, and I doubt I’ll ever see my friend Szu again.
But when I think of China and its people, I think of Szu. I know there are a lot more like him, and that we should be their friends. Assisting them in overthrowing the Communist Party of China is something a friend would do.