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A UFC Fighter Dedicated His Victory to Victims of Communism. Here’s Why It Was Important

Many Americans are clueless about communism's bloody history. That's a dangerous lesson to forget.

Image Credit: UFC

After dominating former Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson over three rounds at UFC 262 on Saturday night, Beneil Dariush had a message for millions of watching fans.

Speaking to podcaster Joe Rogan after the fight, the Iranian-born American mixed martial artist dedicated his victory to victims of communism around the world.

“First things first, I want to thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, that’s number one,” Dariush told Rogan. “Number two, I want to dedicate this fight to all the people who’ve been hurt by Marxists ideologies. There are millions of you.”

A Bloody History

Though many may not know it, the 20th century was the most violent century in history, primarily because of Communism. The precise death toll is unclear, in part because it’s so vast.

The best data we have comes from the late Rudolph Rummel, a political scientist at Yale University, Indiana University, and University of Hawaii, who pioneered the field of democide (death by government). He estimated the human toll of 20th century socialism to be roughly 200 million worldwide. About two-thirds of that total came from the two largest communist empires—the Soviet Union (61 million killed under Stalin and Lenin) and China (78 million killed under Mao Zedong).

In his book Mao’s Great Famine, historian Frank Dikötter explained how Mao became the greatest mass murderer in history.

“Mao thought that he could catapult his country past its competitors by herding villagers across the country into giant people’s communes. In pursuit of a utopian paradise, everything was collectivised,” Dikötter writes. “People had their work, homes, land, belongings and livelihoods taken from them. In collective canteens, food, distributed by the spoonful according to merit, became a weapon used to force people to follow the party’s every dictate.”

Productivity plummeted after Mao destroyed incentives to work. So Chairman Mao found new ways to motivate workers: coercion and violence.

“What comes out of this massive and detailed dossier is a tale of horror in which Mao emerges as one of the greatest mass murderers in history, responsible for the deaths of at least 45 million people between 1958 and 1962,” Dikötter writes.

Among the deaths was a boy in a Hunan village accused of stealing grain. A local Communist boss, Xiong Dechang, ordered the father of the child to bury his son alive.

“The father died of grief a few days later,” Dikötter writes.

A History … Forgotten?

Dariush was not born in the Soviet Union or China. He was born in Iran and raised on a farm before his family moved to the US when he was nine.

So one might wonder if he is needlessly dredging up a dark past. But this overlooks two noteworthy facts. First, it’s important to remember that roughly 20 percent of the world’s population today lives under single-party communist regimes.

Second, despite its brutal history, communism is actually making a comeback. While it’s no secret that a healthy majority of young people say they support socialism, fewer have noticed that more than a third of millennials say they approve of communism.

This fact recently invited ridicule from HBO funnyman Bill Maher.

“Much of the world [tried communism]. Millennials think that doesn’t count because they weren’t alive when it happened, but it did happen,” Maher noted. “Pining for communism is like pining for Betamax or MySpace.”

Maher reaches the conclusion that millennials are the problem because “your ideas are stupid.”

The line brought a burst of applause and laughter from the audience, but it should be noted that millennials are not entirely to blame. The sad and astonishing reality is that most of them are simply unaware of the atrocities committed under the banner of socialism.

Marion Smith, the former executive director of Victims of Communism, has pointed out that entire generations have come of age in cultural and educational systems hostile to free markets. Sadly, these institutions were more than willing to whitewash the crimes of Marxism.

As a result, many people are simply clueless of communism’s crimes. For example, according to a 2018 Victims of Communism survey:

  • Roughly half of millennials have never heard of Mao Zedong, the biggest mass murderer in history.
  • About one-third of millennials think George W. Bush killed more people than Joseph Stalin.
  • 25 percent of millennials view Vladimir Lenin favorably.

How Americans allowed this to happen is a story for another day. What matters is that we’ve deprived countless Americans of an important historical reality: communism kills.

It’s a dangerous lesson to forget, and that’s what makes Beneil Dariush’s fight dedication so important.

  • Jonathan Miltimore is the Senior Creative Strategist of at the Foundation for Economic Education.