Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that requires “Victims of Communism Day” to be observed annually in public high schools across the state.
The bill, known as HB 395, requires public schools to tell students about genocides, famines, and persecutions under communist regimes, including the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Soviet Union. The bill passed the Florida House and Senate unanimously earlier this year.
“We want to make sure that every year folks in Florida, but particularly our students, will learn about the evils of communism, the dictators that have led communist regimes, and the hundreds of millions of individuals who suffered and continue to suffer under the weight of this discredited ideology,” DeSantis said Monday morning.
The Victims of Communism organization has estimated that communist regimes have caused the deaths of at least 100 million people via political purges, religious persecutions, mass starvation, and other crimes against humanity during the 20th century. Chief among those regimes is the CCP, which is believed to have left around 80 million Chinese people dead.
“Over 100 years have passed since the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the formation of the first communist government under Vladimir Lenin, leading to decades of oppression and violence under communist regimes throughout the world,” the bill reads.
The bill also notes that “based on the economic philosophies of Karl Marx, communism has proven incompatible with the ideals of liberty, prosperity, and dignity of human life and has given rise to such infamous totalitarian dictators as Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot.”
It is estimated by some historians that Mao’s regime may have killed upward of 80 million people between 1949 and his death in 1976 via the failures of the Great Leap Forward-triggered mass famine, the Cultural Revolution, various political purges, and other campaigns. Human rights groups and dissidents say that the CCP, which is officially atheist, are continuing Mao’s legacy by persecuting groups including the Falun Gong, Uyghurs, and Christians.
Last year, DeSantis told The Epoch Times the CCP—the largest communist party in the world—should be held responsible for how it handled and exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on in the pandemic, Western governments blindly followed the CCP’s “zero-COVID” approach to the virus, he argued.
“The West did a lot of damage to itself by adopting some of these policies, which have proven to not work to stop the spread, but to be very economically destructive,” DeSantis said at the time.
Instruction on the horrors of communism will start during the 2023–2024 school year for students taking a U.S. government course, requiring at least 45 minutes of teaching about communist atrocities on the “Victims of Communism Day,” which is Nov. 7—the date when the Bolsheviks installed a government in Russian after overthrowing the tsar, leading to the Soviet Union.
Florida has a significant number of people who fled communist countries, namely Cubans who left their country after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.
From The Epoch Times