...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Mao Zedong: Anita Dunn’s Hero?
Here’s part of what Anita Dunn said to a group of high school students at their graduation ceremony in May 2009:
Mao Zedong (or Tse-Tung) was a ruthless dictator responsible for deaths of millions of people, more than Hitler, and more than Stalin. The “Great Leap Forward” and the later “Cultural Revolution” killed millions, and many died in numerous rural and urban purges.
“When questioned last week after a video of her speech surfaced, however, Dunn said she was using ‘irony’ in reference to Mao. A leading expert on China [William Ratliff of the Hoover Institution of Stanford University] told CNSNews.com that Dunn’s remarks were ‘pathetic,’ given the human rights atrocities committed under Mao’s reign.
“[Ratliff] said he found Dunn’s comments astonishing regardless of her larger point, and wondered whether Dunn is aware of the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution, or if Dunn was trying to look at Mao’s positive accomplishments.” 
Irony? I suppose there’s a hint of irony in pairing Mao and Mother Teresa, but there is nothing ironic about her quote of Mao and her expression of admiration for his “political philosophy.” And how would high-schoolers with no memory of Mao perceive any such intended nuances in her speech? But there weren’t any.
During the “Great Leap Forward,” Mao, supposedly in an attempt to bring China into the twentieth century, had peasants working to produce steel, often from back yard blast furnaces. Farm tools were melted down for the steel. Agricultural work was neglected, leading to crop failures. This led to mass starvation, killing 20 to 40 million people. Also, the steel was of such low quality that much of it was not usable.
“Beginning in the spring of 1966, Mao ordered the closing of schools and the formation of ideologically pure Red Guard units, dominated by youths and students. The Red Guards campaigned against ‘old ideas, old culture, old habits, and old customs’ Millions died as a series of violent purges was carried out. By early 1967, the Cultural Revolution had succeeded in bolstering Mao’s position as China’s paramount leader.” 
Youqin Wang, at a web site devoted to the memory of victims of the Cultural Revolution, points out in a paper appearing on the site, that many teachers and school officials were tortured and beaten, some to death, by students. What was supposed to be a non-violent campaign of criticizing the education system and “capitalist-roaders,” thought to be leading the Party back toward capitalism, soon became violent:
“The Red Guards espoused an essentially destructive philosophy. At the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University, in August 1966, the Red Guards destroyed books and paintings on campus. After the vice-principal, Bian Zhongyun, was beaten to death on campus, three seventh graders beat an eighteen-year-old waitress of a restaurant near the school to death in the chemistry laboratory, merely because she was rumored to be a ‘bad woman.’ These kinds of pointless yet destructive actions were romanticized as ‘revolutionary behavior’ which no one dared to stop. Ironically, these actions, which consisted for the most part in destroying objects and in beating innocent people, were called ‘rebellious actions,’ but they were actually carried out with the support of the highest authorities….”  (Emphasis added)
In her paper, Wang also details several examples of the abuse of the teachers and others, with information gained from interviews with people involved at the time. 
Just in case you aren’t familiar with things that happened in China under Mao, as many younger people are not, these were some of the things that happened under Mao, and with Mao’s participation. The point is that it is no small thing when White House officials praise Mao, especially to young graduating students.
Manufacturing “czar” Ron Bloom also expressed agreement with Mao, saying there is “no free market,” and quoting his statement “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Remember, these people speak for President Barack Obama. In a political sense, when they speak, Obama speaks. He is the one who chose these and other admirers of communism and Marxism for positions of responsibility in our government.
 Borgna Brunner, ed., Time Almanac 2007 with Information Please ®, TIME Inc., 2006, page 709.
 Youqin Wang, “Student Attacks Against Teachers: The Revolution of 1966,” Memorial for the Victims of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, at http://www.chinese-memorial.org/.
 Ibid. Wang further details some of the atrocities and suicides that followed, in a second paper, “The Second Wave of Violent Persecution of Teachers: the Revolution of 1968,” presented at the 35th International Congress of Asian and North African Studies, Budapest, July 7-12, 1997, and also appearing at the web site.
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.