New Townhall Column: Honor Victims of 20th Century Totalitarianism

I’ve penned a new column up at Townhall.com. It’s about Black Ribbon Day. Below is an excerpt:

The Soviet Union may have collapsed, but its decades’ long reign of terror shall not be forgotten.

The 20th century was marked by intense tragedy due to the pernicious ideologies of National Socialism and global communism that killed over 100 million people. Millions suffered and died under the tyrannical rule of both Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany and Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, respectively. While the former usually receives resounding condemnation, the latter – particularly the Soviet variant – is wholly ignored by many today. That is why it is imperative to celebrate Black Ribbon Day on August 23rd, a day that commemorates the lives lost under National Socialism and Soviet communism.

Continue reading at Townhall.com.

Thank you to Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, JBANC, and countless others for sharing my article!

Ukraine is Defenseless Against Russian Attack Due to ’05 $48 Million Grant Senator Obama Secured To Destroy Its Guns, Ammunition

With much hype surrounding whether or not the U.S. should aid Ukraine against Russian attack this week, it’s imperative to note a fact going unnoticed by the media.

As Russia continues to reassert itself in the Eastern Bloc with its Neo-Soviet territorial ambitions, one cannot help but shudder at the fact that Ukraine will be defenseless with or without aid from the U.S. (As much as I want Ukraine to defend itself, I don’t think it’s smart to give them aid at this time.) In fact, they shouldn’t trust this administration with providing them aid given one of Obama’s actions as senator that’s continually thrown under the rug. In August 2005, he and former U.S. senator Dick Lugar visited Ukraine and traveled to Donetsk, which is the hotly contested region Russia is so eager to seize from Ukraine. Then-Senator Barack Obama secured $48 million in federal funding to help Ukraine destroy tons of thousands of guns and ammunition, which has now rendered Ukraine essentially defenseless against any future attack from Russia.

Here’s more from Daily Mail:

As a U.S. senator, Barack Obama won $48 million in federal funding to help Ukraine destroy thousands of tons of guns and ammunition – weapons which are now unavailable to the Ukrainian army as it faces down Russian President Vladimir Putin during his invasion of Crimea.

In August 2005, just seven months after his swearing-in, Obama traveled to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine with then-Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, touring a conventional weapons site.

The two met in Kiev with President Victor Yushchenko, making the case that an existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program covering the destruction of nuclear weapons should be expanded to include artillery, small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, and conventional ammunition of all kinds.

After a stopover in London, the senators returned to Washington and declared that the U.S. should devote funds to speed up the destruction of more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition.

How ludicrous is that? As David Limbaugh said and famously wrote, Obama is- without a doubt-the great destroyer. Meddling with other countries and essentially making them weaker? He’s truly a great destroyer domestically and abroad.

Planning to Travel in 2015? Visit Lithuania

images LT

Who else is digging the love Lithuania is getting lately from travel blogs and similar publications?

The Baltic nation of Lithuania has a special place in my heart. For those who know me personally, I often boast about my Baltic roots and showcase delicious food from my ancestral homeland. I can’t help that I appreciate my Lithuanian roots! (Last Friday marked 29 years since my parents and relatives left then Soviet-occupied Lithuania for the U.S.)

For those of you shaking your head questioning whether or not Lithuania is a real country: Yes, it’s a real country with a rich history. It’s also a freedom-loving, rebellious, deeply Catholic (socially conservative) country giving Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin massive headaches. (And rightly so!) Moreover, I’m proud to say that my Lithuanian heritage has tremendously aided me in advancing conservatism.

What is Lithuania known for? In short, basketball, beer, and beautiful women. The first written mention of Lithuania dates back to March 9, 1009. It’s also the largest and most populous of the Baltic Republics. Additionally, Lithuania was the first Baltic Republic to declare its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990. (How cool is that?)

Need a reason to visit the Baltic Republic?

Lonely Planet listed Lithuania as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2015:

Rebellious, quirky and vibrant, Lithuania (Lietuva) is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Though the country rarely makes it into newspapers outside its borders (and when it does, it’s for some basketball exploit), the southernmost of the three Baltic countries holds a bag of treats.

Lithuania joined Singapore, Namibia, Nicaragua, Ireland, Republic of Congo, Serbia, the Philippines, St Lucia, and Morocco on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015 list.

And Forbes also listed Lithuania as a top travel destination in 2015:

It’s also home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the old town of capital city Vilnius, a Baroque masterpiece and one of the largest old towns in Central and Eastern Europe; and the Curonian Spit, a 60-mile peninsula of spectacular beaches stretching south into Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave. Once heavily forested, it’s now the pride of the country and backed by Europe’s largest moving sand dune.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly caught the travel bug. Last time I was in Lietuva was in August 1999. (I was eight at the time.) Hoping to pay a visit in the near future, especially sometime later this year!

Would you want to visit Lithuania this year? Weigh in below!

25th Anniversary of the Berlin Wall Fall: Tyranny Still Thrives Today

On this day 25 years ago, the Berlin Wall fell . This soon led to the physical collapse of the Soviet Union. This pivotal moment in history freed millions of people behind the Iron Curtain, including members of my family in Lithuania.

Below is footage from that fateful day:

Here’s a picture I took of a remnant of the Berlin Wall at Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library in August 2012.

 

The fall of the Berlin Wall was symbolic in that it led to the physical collapse of the Soviet Union. It was also the tireless efforts of Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II–along with the indomitable freedom-loving people of Eastern Europe (including members of my family in Lithuania)–who brought the end of the USSR. From Solidarity in Poland to the Baltic Way in the Baltic Republics, the perseverance of those in Eastern Europe helped pivot the end of the Soviet Union.

Though the USSR collapsed, its pernicious ideas still permeate today. Putin’s Russia is Neo-Soviet, and he says the Hitler-Stalin Pact was justified. Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and countless other countries still practice tyranny today. And American universities whitewash Soviet crimes and even justify them. Marion Smith of Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation wrote an important op-ed in Wall Street Journal highlighting the danger of communism’s lurking presence:

To tear down that wall will require the same moral clarity that brought down the concrete and barbed-wire barrier that divided Berlin 25 years ago. The Cold War may be over, but the battle on behalf of human freedom is still being waged every day. The triumph of liberty we celebrate on this anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s destruction must not be allowed to turn to complacency in the 21st century. Victory in the struggle again totalitarian oppression is far from inevitable, but this week we remember that it can be achieved. 

It’s important to educate people about global communism’s horrors and call for equal condemnation of Soviet crimes. I urge you to support groups like Victims of Communism to further educate the country about the horrors of global communism.

Remember to never forget.

Winning: More Lithuanians Are Purchasing Guns for Self-Defense

You might be thinking, Why should I care about people in Eastern Europe buying more guns for self-defense? Let me tell you why: These people, with whom I share a similar heritage, realize that gun control will lead their country into disarray and tyranny that once befell the nation during Soviet times.

Here’s more about the trend from Lithuanian Tribune:

Audrius Čiupaila, the head of the licensing division of the Public Police Board under the Police Department, said the number of weapons bought between March and October went up by 7 percent year-on-year.

In his words, the gun arsenal owned by Lithuanian citizens increases by 3,000-4,000 various weapons every year.

People in the country currently own over 100,000 various pistols, revolvers and different shotguns. Some of them are highly spectacular guns that can be used for more than just self-defence, sports or hunting, but also for a guerrilla war.

Compared to the United States, most of Europe has strict laws against gun ownership or boasts laws that prohibit concealed carry. Lithuanian gun laws are quite restrictive as they’re regulated by the Ministry of National Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, the Police Department under the Ministry of the Interior, the Customs Department under the Ministry of Finance, and the Weaponry Fund of the Republic of Lithuania, and the European Commission. (Yikes!) However, Lithuanians may privately own semi-automatic firearms and handguns with a permit.

Compared to the U.S., Lithuanians must present a reason to purchase a gun as ordained by the Holder’s Right to Acquire and Possess Weapons and Ammunition Law of 2002. Its provisions are outlined below:

1. Permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania and legal persons registered in the Republic of Lithuania may acquire and keep weapons, ammunition for the following purposes:
1) hunting;
2) sports;
3) self-defence;
4) professional activities;
5) collection;
6) training;
7) scientific research;
8) other purposes, if they are in conformity with laws and international agreements and treaties.

2. Permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania and legal persons registered in the Republic of Lithuania shall have the right to acquire ammunition for weapons which they are entitled to possess.

Unlike the U.S., Lithuania doesn’t permit open carry or conceal carry in public. Their age requirements are different, as well. Under ‘Requirements for Permanent Residents of the Republic of Lithuania, Legal Persons Registered in the Republic of Lithuania in Order to Acquire and Possess Arms and Ammunition of Certain Categories or Types’, these requirements must be met in order for citizens to acquire a handgun or semi-automatic firearm:

2. Long firearms with rifled barrels classified in Categories B and C, and cartridges for them may be acquired and possessed by permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania who are at least 21 years of age, have a valid hunter’s licence and at least 3 years of hunting experience, as well as by legal persons, having a licence to hire weapons, upon having obtained a permit.

3. Long firearms with smooth-bore barrels, pneumatic weapons, archery weapons classified in Categories B and C, their ammunition may be acquired and possessed by permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania who are at least 18 years of age, have a valid hunter’s licence, as well as by legal persons, having a licence to hire weapons, upon having obtained a permit.

4. Weapons classified in Categories B and C, and their ammunition may be acquired and possessed by permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania who are at least 16 years of age – members of shooting sports organisations, as well as by legal persons, upon having obtained a permit.

5. Short firearms classified in Categories B and C for self-defence, cartridges for them may be acquired and possessed by permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania who are at least 23 years of age, upon having passed an examination and obtained a permit.

6. Long firearms with smooth-bore barrels classified in Categories B and C, cartridges for them for self-defence may be acquired and possessed by permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania who are at least 18 years of age, upon having passed an examination and obtained a permit.

7. Weapons classified in Categories B and C, their cartridges for the purpose of professional activities may be acquired and possessed by natural persons and legal persons registered in the Republic of Lithuania, upon having obtained a permit. The said weapons may be carried by permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania who are at least 21 years of age – employees of legal persons registered in the Republic of Lithuania, upon having passed an examination and obtained a permit. Automatic firearms, ammunition for them may, upon having obtained a permit, be acquired and possessed by the Bank of Lithuania; the said weapons may, in the course of official duties, be carried by employees of the Bank of Lithuania – permanent residents of the Republic of Lithuania who are at least 21 years of age, upon having passed an examination and obtained a permit.

Though gun laws in my ancestral homeland are quite restrictive compared to American gun laws, particularly that of my adopted home state Virginia, it’s encouraging to see more Lithuanians keep and bear arms. The Soviet tried to put a muzzle on Lithuanians with gun control before. Let’s hope Lithuanians and others in Eastern Europe take matters into their own hands to prevent tyranny from rearing its ugly head again in the region.

 

#HandsOffUkraine Rally in Washington, D.C.

Yesterday my parents and I ventured to DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C., to join other Americans from Eastern Europe – including Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Georgians, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians – to protest Russia’s illegal invasion into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

20140302-183111.jpg

The protest was organized by Joint Baltic Americans National Committee (JBANC). Lithuanian Ambassador Žygimantas Pavilionis and Ukrainian Ambassador Oleksandr Motsyk gave brief remarks at the event.

I’m pictured with some diplomats from the Lithuanian Embassy. [ Lithuania is my ancestral homeland, for those of you wondering.]

20140302-183224.jpg

With my new friends Rolandas Kacinskas (L) and Lithuanian Ambassador to the U.S. Zygimantas Pavilionis (R) at the #StopRussianOccupation rally in support of Ukraine. The ambassador’s sign reads, “Obama Beware! One day Putin might come “rescue” Russians in Brighton Beach, NY!”

Amb. Motsyk of Ukraine gave brief remarks at the protest.

uk emb

Amb. Pavilionis of Lithuania addressed the protest.

20140302-183301.jpg

Lithuanian Ambassador to the U.S. and Mexico Žygimantas Pavilionis

Pictured below is the Lithuanian National Flag alongside the Lithuanian State Flag with Vytis.

20140302-183420.jpg

A sign cautioning against Russian “liberation” of Crimea/Ukraine is shown below.

20140302-191558.jpg

LTU World covered the protest, as with Daily Caller.

I’ll have a column in Townhall.com later this week about the situation in Eastern Europe. As Americans, we should encourage means other than war to punish Russia for its behavior.

Stay tuned…