If you were walking through Coates Student Center on October 16 around lunch time, you probably noticed members of the Trinity chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) passing out fortune cookies with “fortunes” regarding Mao Zedong and the founding of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. Cookies stated facts about Mao’s reign in the form of fortunes- “you will kill 60 million people” or “you will starve innocent families.”
YCT Chairman Isaiah Mitchell had the idea for the event. “We love to talk about human rights violations until communism’s legacy enters the discussion. I wanted to remind people about the bloody history of communism in a fun way, just because people remember a joke better than a pamphlet,” Mitchell said. A post on the YCT-Trinity Facebook page stated that the purpose of the table is to “raise awareness about Mao Zedong, who founded the People’s Republic of China 69 Octobers ago.”
According to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s 2017 annual report on U.S. attitudes towards socialism and communism, 58 percent of millennials preferred either socialism, communism, or fascism to capitalism, but 69% of them were unable to accurately define socialism and communism. With this table event, YCT hoped to spread awareness about undeniably evil acts- like Mao’s responsibility for the deaths of over 60 million people.
With support for far-left ideologies like communism, socialism, and fascism on the rise among college students, informing students about the actual legacy of these governments is more important than ever, according to Senior Chinese Language major Ian Kavanagh, who has spent time living and studying in both Taiwan and mainland China. “Communism results in mass starvation, genocide and misery,” Kavanagh said, adding that in communist China, “over 100 million people have died since the inception of the state, including over 40 million unborn children.”
Reactions from students were mixed. Some left-leaning students were skeptical about the “angle” that YCT was taking. Mitchell acknowledged that while the organization is ideological, the aim is to inform students about the atrocities Mao committed, believing that the humanitarian and economic record of communist regimes speak for themselves.
Next year, Mitchell hopes that the club will be able to repeat the event on the exact anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, October 1. Next year will be the 70th anniversary. He also hopes that student organizations at other schools will adopt the event in order to reach more students.