That the Department of African and African American Studies has chosen to include Angela Davis ’65 among the participants in the events commemorating its 50th anniversary later this month is disgraceful.

Angela Davis is an apologist for the Soviet Union, which under Stalin, according to the estimate of the late Robert Conquest, who wrote what remains one of the best accounts of the Great Terror, exterminated no less than twenty-three million Soviet citizens.  Her slavish devotion to this murderous regime caused her to slander courageous Soviet dissidents like Andrei Sakharov who in the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s exposed the moral degradation and the utter unworkability of the post-Stalin Soviet system.  That alone would surely disqualify her from any role in any official proceeding of her alma mater (and mine).  But there is more.  The communism she proudly proclaims superior to capitalism and liberal democracy has been responsible--in the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Cambodia, and Eastern Europe while it consisted mainly of communist regimes subservient to the Soviet Union-for the deaths of approximately one hundred million people.  I would strongly recommend that Ms. Davis and her supporters read carefully the Black Book of Communism, published originally in France and in English translation by Harvard University Press in 1999, which provides the empirical evidence for the figure cited here.  Another book from which she might learn something about the Soviet Union is Martin Malia’s Soviet Tragedy, which neatly encapsulates the seventy-four year disaster that was Soviet Communism in the statement that “socialism is impossible, and the Soviets tried to build it.”

One can understand why Western intellectuals in the 1920s, who were rightly horrified by the senseless killings in World War I, would laud a new regime like the Soviet that promised peace and prosperity for everyone.  But those like Ms. Davis who do the same today, after this system has been shown incontrovertibly to have been one of the most morally wretched in the entire history of humanity, deserve only contempt.  George Orwell, who in his intellectual honesty and moral courage is the antithesis of Angela Davis, captured an essential aspect of her political personae when he commented wryly that some ideas are so foolish only intellectuals would believe them.

—Prof. Jay Bergman ’70 is a professor of Russian and Soviet History at Central Connecticut State University.