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Communists still get good press

There I was this morning, enjoying a cup of coffee in the warm autumn sun and reading the staid old Financial Times, with its distinctive yellow paper that always puts me in the mind of reliable centrism, when abruptly my equanimity was broken by this:

Here’s an interesting question ahead of Barack Obama’s arrival in Tokyo on Friday for the first leg of his Asia tour: would Mao Zedong have approved of the US president’s itinerary? Or would he have worried that Obama was not doing enough to make sure that Japan felt loved?

It might be surprising to some, but the late Chinese chairman was an astute observer of the impact that trip scheduling could have on sensitive Japanese sentiment. So much so that he discussed the matter in forceful terms with Henry Kissinger way back in 1971.

I wasn’t following international affairs back then, but I remember well the doubt and concern that swept some Japanese policymaking circles in 1998 when then US president Bill Clinton skipped Tokyo on an Asian tour that included a long multi-stop visit to China. [. . .]

Mao would certainly have chastised Clinton, had the great dictator not long since been transformed into a waxy corpse on grisly show in a Tiananmen Square mausoleum.

Here's an even more interesting question: what's the easiest way to continue getting good press 50 years after contriving the murder of tens of millions? Answer: do it in the name of Communism.


Comments (11)

??? This seems more like neutral press with the reporter using the Mao/Kissinger exchange to add some gravitas to the story.

Yeah, people call Hitler "the great dictator" all the time and ask what he would have had to say about Presidential itineraries. It's just "neutral press."

Yikes. And not even as an ancillary comment, instead he leads write in with the full stop colon and "what would Zedong think."

Frightfully bad taste. I'm not particularly familiar with the Financial Times--there is a certain measure of respectability required to get that subscription, I am sure--yet I must say, Paul, that it seems anything but "staid." Webster assures me that staid implies a marked self-restraint; alas, Mure Dickie has none to spare.

And Al, shame on you for using gravitas, and additionally, implying that it is an excusable thing to arbitrarily add to a story.

...instead he leads *right* in with the full...

Calm thy anxious hands! : )

Lydia, you are clearly not a movie fan:) If one was writing about the wisdom of invading Russia, turning a continent full of cool old buildings into a continent full of piles of bricks, or making a thousand years seem like twelve, a quote from Der Fuhrer might well be on point. National Review did quote Franco awhile back.

Sorry Brett, but the reference to Mao made the post. You are nine years too late in your objection to the use of "gravitas".

I thought PC was a lefty thing.

Al, genuine indignation isn’t usually expressed with “shame on you,” except by grandmothers who are usually in all other respects perfectly charming. My chastisement was meant to be playful, in particular because it would only elicit a reaction in certain touchy individuals. Sorry you missed that : (

I must admit that I’m clueless as to why objecting to gravitas would relate even remotely to PCness. Other than its general connection with individuals with an inflated sense of self-importance, I didn’t realize it possessed either racial, sexual, or religious overtones. In the interest of not appearing any more PC than I have apparently already exposed myself to be, I do not apologize for trampled feelings caused by my reckless language.

Brett, the original post, not your comment, was PC, about as PC as one can get. Sorry if that wasn't clear. My "nine year" reference was a playful reference to the addition of Cheney to the 2000 Rep ticket.

the original post, not your comment, was PC, about as PC as one can get

The original post rested upon the assumption that Mao being one of the most wicked men who ever lived, to cite him as an authority on anything is loathsome; and that the fact FT writers feel no compunction against doing so is evidence of the continuing blindness about the nature of Communism. Lydia's comparison to Hitler is perfectly apt. I challenge Al to find a single press clipping in the last 40 years that, without irony, cites Adolf Hitler as an authority.

OK, so the writer, being aware of a historically apt (and ideologically neutral) hook with which to frame his story, should self-censor because Mao was (gasp) a Communist and FT readers are so unsophisticated that they are unaware that this Mao fellow was, among other things, a mass murderer and somewhat mad in his dotage and that this Communism is a failed nineteenth century idea? How is that sort of elitism not pure PC?

At least two problems with the Hitler thing.

One, you and Lydia presume an equivalence between the two that you haven't established. So they both murdered a lot people; they also both put their trousers on one leg at a time. Neither fact makes anyone quotable. You all might want to ponder the differences. (Just to clarify things; Why Hitler? Is Mao one from "my side" so you demand one of your own? Help me out.)

Two, we have the need for "balance" which is yet another manifestation of PC thinking.

Your demand for a Hitler quote is off point and a red herring.

Mao was one of the great monsters in human history. He should never be cited as an authority on any subject without acknowledgment of that fact. To speculate based on his presumed authority as a world figure, with no such acknowledgment, is a severe strike against your judgment, in my view.

Also, since going on three generations of liberal opinion have tried to downplay Mao's unspeakable crimes, it is indeed debatable whether even the sophisticated readers of the FT realize how wicked the man was.

I just found it ironic that such a pure example of PCness was posted so soon after we had a lengthy post on the evils of PC.

"Also, since going on three generations of liberal opinion have tried to downplay Mao's unspeakable crimes,"

And no example of PC on the right is complete without the ritualistic insertion of teh liberal. Actually Mao (and China) gets hammered from all sides because of the way religious and ethnic minorities are treated (Christians, Buddhists, Tibet, Uighurs, etc.) as well as the excesses inherent in any cult of personality.

I understand that living on the right could lead one to grossly underestimate general cultural literacy but that is your burden not mine. I know of no one on the left who is generally worth listening to who considers the Great Leap Forward good policy and who considers the Cultural Revolution anything other than insane. Mao is actually the worst example you could pick. Folks who know their history are highly likely to agree he was wicked and simpler folk will likely know, at minimum, that he was a commie and that will be enough for them.

Out of curiosity, where would you draw the line on required moral signage? We have Mao (the murderous monster) so I guess we have to include Stalin and Hitler, but what is the cut off point? Should we append "traitor and "racist" to say, Jefferson Davis or anti-semite to Luther (or Henry Ford)?

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