Anita Dunn’s praise of Chairman Mao Tse Tung, the murderer of millions, has become a controversial foci following Glenn Beck’s airing of her summer commencement speech at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Dunn called Mao Tse Tung and Mother Theresa her “two of my favorite political philosophers” and “the two people I turn to most” during her June 2009 speech.
While Dunn’s comments were shocking to many in their moral equivalency, they are not surprising to this correspondent.
Dunn has since claimed her comments were meant to be “ironic.” New York Times writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes that Dunn sent her an email stating
“My source for the Mao quote was actually the late Lee Atwater, either in an article or bio I read after the 1988 election. Now that I’ve revealed this I hope I don’t get Keith Olbermann angry with me. Let it be noted that I also quoted Mother Teresa, but no one is accusing me of being a saint!”
“…Ms. Dunn says that the line about Mao and Mother Teresa was intended to be ironic – neither was a political philosopher—and that she used it simply to illustrate a larger point about the importance of challenging the conventional wisdom,” writes Stolberg.
For some leftists, Mao is actually a “political philosopher”—and a popular one at that.
From one Grove City College professor: “[Mao] was a cultural icon in America in the ’60s. At one point in the ’60s, The Thoughts of Chairman Mao was the number one selling book of the world.” Prof. Paul Kengor was speaking on an America’s Survival panel about communism in the classroom and Bill Ayers’ curriculum held this August:
“It’s not that professors today, or most professors, are communist—and this is my olive branch here to the left and my caveat to the right to cool down their rhetoric,” he said, continuing, “They’re not a bunch of commies, they’re not a bunch of reds. Very, very, very, very few of them actually have a bust of Marx in the office, although I’ve seen some who have…”
Prof. Kengor argued that “The anti-anti-communists in academia in particular are writing the high school history books that your kids are using. Those are written by college professors.”
Mao’s legacy has been largely whitewashed and, if one Fox News reporter is to believed, his legacy is making a big-time comeback in the country (supposedly) most familiar with his human rights atrocities. “Mao’s status as the founder of modern day China is celebrated in a new state-sponsored film starring 200 of the country’s biggest actors,” reported Dana Lewis on October 6.
“In the film, Mao is depicted as the caring father of the nation, a leader who loves his soldiers and citizens. The filmmakers make few references to Mao’s brutality, glossing over policies and political purges that resulted in the deaths of 40 to 70 million of his people.”
Some American public school textbooks contain adulatory sections on the Chinese Communist party, as Prof. Kengor found in his research. One perennial Harvard text, China: a New History, claims that the deaths of Chinese peasants overworking themselves were beyond the control of Mao and other leaders. They write that:
“By concentrating solely on Chairman Mao as the leader we would fail to convey the national mood of fervent self-sacrifice and frenetic activity that characterized the Great Leap Forward. Peasants worked around the clock to break their own work records, cadres in charge locally kept on reporting totally unrealistic production figures, and Mao’s colleagues such as the economist Chen Yun and Premier Zhou Enlai found no way to stop the fever” (emphases added).”
While there is little chance that the Chinese government will offer its own citizens an unadulterated analysis of Mao’s policies, American children should be given the opportunity to study the real history behind Mao’s “political philosophies” here at home.
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