By Corinne Murdock |
Arizona State Representatives Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott Valley), a refugee from communist Vietnam, and House Majority Leader Ben Toma (R-Peoria), whose family emigrated from communist Romania, announced their intent to sponsor a bill establishing anti-communist civics education for K-12 students. The legislation would require social studies curriculum to include a contrast of this country’s founding principles with conflicting political ideologies. In order to accomplish this inclusion, the State Board of Education (SBE) would work with experts in civics and government structures.
Nguyen plans to introduce the bill in the upcoming legislative session. In a press release, Nguyen cited his loss and continued hardship due to communism as the inspiration behind the bill. The legislator fled from the Communist Party of Vietnam at 12 years old in April 1975 – a week before the Fall of Saigon. Ngyen reiterated the importance of knowing history in order to not repeat it.
“This is very personal to me, as someone who has survived a communist war,” said Nguyen. “I have lost very close family members to the evil ideology of communism. I know what it feels to lose a nation to communism and that’s why I do not want my fellow Arizonans to ever go through what I have. It is up to us to ensure that future generations have an honest understanding of what communism truly is and the horrors it has produced for mankind. Otherwise, it is likely to be repeated. The victims and survivors of communism deserve to have their voice heard.”
Toma emigrated to America when he was nine years old in the 1980s. In an interview with Scena9, a Romanian publication, Toma offered an anecdote about life under the regime of the communist dictator at the time, Nicolae Ceaușescu. Ceaușescu and his wife were executed by firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989, the culmination of the Romanian Revolution that ended the 42-year-old communist regime.
“Toma […] still remembers some of the absurdities that people would need to do for those in power. He claims that, before Ceaușescu visited their town, Șăulia, people painted the grass green and hung fake apples in the trees, even if it wasn’t summer yet, so Ceaușescu would feel satisfied by his country’s prosperity,” reported Scena9.
In the press release, Toma concurred with Nguyen’s insistence on the importance of a civics education informing students about the truth of communism.
“I believe in America and its cornerstone principles of liberty, freedom, and democracy,” said Toma. “I also believe that we have a solemn obligation to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. This legislation strengthens a student’s foundation in civic literacy and understanding of what makes our nation exceptional, and how it stands in stark contrast to dangerous ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that would have our founding principles erased from history.”
The legislators’ announcement comes after months of Democratic colleagues insisting that current hot button ideologies like white nationalism posed a bigger threat than communism. During a floor session in June, Nguyen fired back at those same claims made by State Representative Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson). Hernandez implied that subjects like white nationalism and the January 6 incident demanded greater attention in classrooms than communism.
“You know, I just recently heard somebody say that […] communism is not the enemy, but white nationalism [is]. So, let me tell you something about white nationalism. White nationalism didn’t drown 250,000 Vietnamese in the South China sea. The communists did,” stated Nguyen. “White nationalism did not execute 86,000 South Vietnamese at the Fall of Saigon. Communists did. White nationalism did not put me here. Communism did. So don’t take it lightly. Don’t mock me. Don’t mock what I go through in life. It’s rough. I lost most of my cousins, my family members due to communism. If we don’t stand up to teach communism to our children, we’ll lose this country. So sir, don’t mock me.”
The K-12 budget bill originally included a provision requiring schools to teach how political ideologies like communism conflicted with American principles of freedom and democracy. Courts voided that bill, HB 2898, for not abiding by the state’s single subject rule for legislation.