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This piece is directed at those who believe demands for racial justice, equal pay, climate action, LQBTQ rights, voting access, government accountability, immigration reform, and addressing other systemic societal ills are inherently communist. Strictly speaking, communism refers to a economic-political system wherein workers control the means of production. Anything outside this definition is not communist. Black Lives Matter is not communist. #MeToo is not communist. The Green New Deal is not communist. March For Our Lives is not communist. Dreamers are not communists.

You confuse “communism” with “authoritarianism,” which is a society’s total adherence to an authority—usually an autocratic government—at the expense of individual freedom. You believe your ability to say and do whatever you please wherever you like without negative repercussions is sacrosanct. But this belief does not originate from an affinity to a nebulous philosophical concept such as liberty, but a narcissistic focus on the pursuit of your own ends with nary a thought for others.

People you previously ignored—whether of a different race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation—vociferously insist they have the same right to speak, and act, and operate in spaces hitherto reserved for you. You have not entered a reeducation camp when they describe how your blithe actions and speech curtail their freedoms. Feeling pressure to cease harming others is neither communism nor authoritarianism, but democracy at work. It is the gradual elevation of everyone’s views. You’re simply upset your voice no longer dominates.

You turned “communist” into shorthand for what makes you uneasy, any insinuation that you should no longer unload verbal effluence without first placing yourself in the shoes of those you previously deemed unworthy of empathy, any hint that others will not accept your behavior simply because they were forced to do so in the past. So you use the word as a cudgel to beat those who challenge your beliefs.

You often call them “snowflakes,” thereby insinuating they are fragile, destined to melt upon first contact with sunlight. But let’s focus that vaunted disinfectant on you. You are scared you are no longer in charge, that you cannot arbitrarily write and enforce society’s rules. You do not fear communism. You fear losing control.

With good reason. Your worldview is under assault from myriad directions by as many actors. The previously solid edifice built over generations buckles beneath a relentless bombardment. You are everywhere confronted with accusations of bigotry, ignorance, insensitivity, privilege, historical illiteracy. But you grasp at the nearest wall with every ounce of strength, resolute that you’d rather be buried in the rubble than abandon a flawed structure. The forces leading the assault are not fragile. You and your perspective are.

Denigrating policies that make you uncomfortable as “communist” is not just rhetorically lazy, it is the highest form of cowardice. You hide behind a moniker you do not comprehend because you will not debate your opponents on the merits, because you cannot, because you will lose. Others demand you look them in the face and defend your beliefs, but you run for the hills, flinging “communist” in your wake. You believe the word is an insurmountable barrier upon which to stand above your enemies, assured of your moral superiority. In reality, it is but a smoke screen that distracts from the howling vacuum where principles should lie.

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Andrew OtazoAndrew Otazo

‘Miami Creation Myth’ author Andrew Otazo has advised officials on Cuba policy, worked for the Mexican president, fired a tank, and ran with 30lbs of trash.

Check out the first free chapter of Andrew’s upcoming book here.

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