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Mao-Maoing the Beck watchers

My apologies to Tom Wolfe.

By now you’ve no doubt heard of White House Communications Director Anita Dunn’s jaw-dropping paean to mass-murdering communist dictator Mao Zedong, first reported on Glenn Beck’s show. You might find the official “explanations” convincing. I don’t.

So what’s the deal? Is Dunn really a Maoist, or at least soft on Maoism? There’s at least one alternative explanation.

This incident reminded me of a bizarre student paper I read many years ago. The student had expressed an interest in writing something on the Marquis de Sade, and showed me some article about de Sade the student had been reading which was written from a pro-life point of view. I said it would be OK as long as the student could guarantee that the paper would be critical and argument-oriented – that is to say, that it would be an objective philosophical analysis of actual arguments and ideas, not a mere history lesson or political harangue.

After it was turned in and I started reading it, I could barely believe my eyes. It was, for one thing, little more than a recounting of the usual shocking facts about de Sade – his sexual perversions, physical abuse of women, rhapsodic descriptions of rape and torture, etc. But that wasn’t the beauty part. What was bizarre was how it was all summarized in a banal, matter-of-fact World Book Encyclopedia fashion – and then concluded with some commencement-speech style bromides about how de Sade “thought for himself” and “stood up for what he believed in” despite opposition from the political and religious authorities of his time. There was no acknowledgment whatsoever that de Sade’s views and actions, or the paper’s own “conclusions,” might be thought just a tad controversial (yes, even today!). No acknowledgement, much less any attempt to answer, the critical remarks about de Sade made in the pro-life oriented article which, as it turned out, had been the student’s only source material. Nor was there any hint whatsoever that the paper was the expression of some weird half-baked sexual nihilist philosophy arrived at, in standard college student fashion, via late-night, half-assed readings of Nietzsche and Anaïs Nin. Nor was it remotely well-written enough plausibly to reflect a clever attempt at satire. No, at bottom it had all the passion, grace, cliché-riddenness and general intellectual value of something acquired from a term paper mill.

So what was going on? Well, as near as I could figure, basically this: The student had to write on something and grabbed whatever was at hand as a topic, which for whatever reason happened to be this pro-life article on de Sade. The paper was then “written” by summarizing the facts cribbed from the article and then tossing in the usual “be yourself” clichés the student had picked up from the surrounding culture as a conclusion. Print it out, turn it in, and on to the next class. It was, I think, really that innocent – and therefore that awful.

The student’s name was not Anita Dunn, but – as you know if you’ve heard Dunn’s preposterous speech and noted what an exercise in the “banality of evil” it was – the similarities are otherwise striking. And it may be that Dunn’s mind has simply been so thoroughly rotted out by the surrounding liberal individualist culture and its endless celebration of “doing your own thing,” “being yourself,” “standing out from the crowd,” “thinking differently,” etc. etc. ad nauseam that as she prepared her speech, the first thing she thought of when she came across the Mao story she recounts is not “But this guy killed 65 million people!” but rather “Wow, he really believed in himself – this would make an inspiring anecdote for the kiddies!”

So, maybe Dunn is just a complete dimwit.

And then again, maybe she is a commie scumbag.


Comments (37)

But those are totally compatible. Think of all the useful idiots on the American left the communists have had writing for them over the years. I've read something fawning about Communist China and Mao from W.E.B. DuBois, too. Of course, perhaps DuBois didn't know that he had killed 65 million people. But perhaps if he had, he would have white-washed it, ignored it, or explained it away in the usual Duranty-esque fashion.

And maybe Dunn would, too.

To some extent, it's a question of what your peers will let you get away with and what inconvenient facts they will let you ignore in the service of the shared agenda.

And Dunn could have bothered to say something about how she knows how horrible Mao was, how she regrets if anything she said seems to have endorsed his terrible actions, etc. Would she not do that if her so-called "irony" had involved Hitler? For sure she would. But communist mass murderers get a pass. They were idealists, of course. There just isn't the stigma that there is surrounding Nazism. It's not like she doesn't know the facts. It's like her moral sense has been completely trashed by the "no enemies to the left" dogma so that she can speak of someone like Mao as a role model and never, even _later_ when there's a stink about it, have to say that she was being "unclear" or "ironic" or whatever the claim is in a way that led to her appearing to admire a mass murderer, that she's sorry for that, etc.

Being a lefty means never having to say you're sorry.

"Late night,half-assed readings." LOL! Hell, that's the only kind I ever get! Not only that, but they're half-lidded, too.

And it may be that Dunn’s mind has simply been so thoroughly rotted out by the surrounding liberal individualist culture and its endless celebration of “doing your own thing,” “being yourself,” “standing out from the crowd,” “thinking differently, etc. etc.

Reminds me of Michael Flynn's recent comment that his first reaction to "freethinker" is "well, you get what you pay for,"

I have been calling it zombie socialism.
Only the useful idiots are left, so the idiots lurch forward with even less knowledge and skill than their masters once had, blindly mixing various aspects of fascism, communism, and national socialism into a puerile meringue, while tutting at the reactionaries for drawing parallels to history.
No, they say, this is a tabula rasa meringue, pure, clean, and progressive; ignore the Che T-shirt and the corporatist economic system! It's a new meringue! It's hope and change!

But when you get down to it, it's the same old crud.


What are you picking on that student and Anita Dunn for, when the Vatican itself is running articles in its newspaper like this one?


Hmmm, maybe next year the Vaican newspaper will run a glowing reassessment of Stalin.

No offense, but really. That on Marx is fairly absurd. The best one can say is that at least Marx never _personally_ ordered a _specific_ bloody revolution and the murder of millions. That I know of.

Methinks the Professor should have been named more fulsomely: Professor Sans Thought.

I don't care how much it was true that Marx correctly saw problems in capitalism. The reality is that his system of thought drew all the wrong conclusions from this one valid observation. These errors are wholly contrary to Catholicism, and there is no way to rehabilitate the actual content of Das Kapital, without eradicating about 90% of it.

The fact that the newspaper printed the story is meaningless. Remember: first of all, the story was run by the Jesuits, who are also referred to as the Communist-running-dog Jesuits. Then, the result was, ahem, "vetted" by the Secretariat of State. As an arm of government, there is no more left-leaning group in the Vatican than State, and they simply keep on doing what they have been doing for 50 years now, without being reined back. Whatever the atheists and whiners SAY about the monolithic Catholic Church, there is no other voluntary association with an actual solid structure that allows more freedom of expression among the "managers" and "executives". My boss would certainly have fired me for allowing something to go out on the organization's newsletter that disagreed with the organization's historical point of view like that.

Ed, I think you are heading in the right direction, at least to some extent: the liberals politicos are lazy about presenting ideas as if they needed to make sense, and be worth considering. So lazy, that one wonders if they are even aware how empty their comments really are. And just possibly, so lazy that they forget to train their next-generation lap-dogs to keep to the talking points without going off into TRUTH, because generally truth will bite them back.

So, maybe Dunn is just a complete dimwit.

I would not bet against that proposition, but I also recall reading in Tom Clancy's nonfiction book Shadow Warriors that Mao's military strategy is taught at West Point. That doesn't excuse anything, but it does put a different gloss on the quote she uses, which no doubt Sun Tzu formulated a million times better.

DuBois, like Martin Luther King, Jr., was a communist.

Remember: first of all, the story was run by the Jesuits, who are also referred to as the Communist-running-dog Jesuits.

By who? I know El Salvadoran death squads thought so, but who else? The Order has a lot of problems, but Communists? I know one who is risking his life in a Moslem dominated region of Nigeria right now and he's nobody's running dog.

I cannot find the Georg San article and only read the misleading headline and truncated excerpts which you read and see only one objectionable point; Marx was misappropriated by his followers. Beyond that, he says Marx offered a compelling diagnosis from which we can learn, notwithstanding his inhumane prognosis. And is this proof of a red under the Vatican bed?; He argued that Marx’s “materialist” view of history had wrongly reduced man to no more than a product of his material, economic and physical circumstances.

The illogic of your dismissal suggests the Jesuits are not the only ones with hammer and sickle Rosary beads;

20. The nineteenth century held fast to its faith in progress as the new form of human hope, and it continued to consider reason and freedom as the guiding stars to be followed along the path of hope. Nevertheless, the increasingly rapid advance of technical development and the industrialization connected with it soon gave rise to an entirely new social situation: there emerged a class of industrial workers and the so-called “industrial proletariat”, whose dreadful living conditions Friedrich Engels described alarmingly in 1845. For his readers, the conclusion is clear: this cannot continue; a change is necessary. Yet the change would shake up and overturn the entire structure of bourgeois society. After the bourgeois revolution of 1789, the time had come for a new, proletarian revolution: progress could not simply continue in small, linear steps. A revolutionary leap was needed. Karl Marx took up the rallying call, and applied his incisive language and intellect to the task of launching this major new and, as he thought, definitive step in history towards salvation—towards what Kant had described as the “Kingdom of God”...

...With great precision, albeit with a certain onesided bias, Marx described the situation of his time, and with great analytical skill he spelled out the paths leading to revolution—and not only theoretically: by means of the Communist Party that came into being from the Communist Manifesto of 1848, he set it in motion. His promise, owing to the acuteness of his analysis and his clear indication of the means for radical change, was and still remains an endless source of fascination...

21. Together with the victory of the revolution, though, Marx's fundamental error also became evident. He showed precisely how to overthrow the existing order, but he did not say how matters should proceed thereafter...His real error is materialism: man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment.

and see only one objectionable point; Marx was misappropriated by his followers.

How about this one:

He also said that Marx’s theories may help to explain the enduring issue of income inequality within capitalist societies.
“We have to ask ourselves, with Marx, whether the forms of alienation of which he spoke have their origin in the capitalist system,

No, Marx's theories do NOT help explain the enduring issue of income inequality. Within capitalist societies or anywhere else. The root inequality is that of talent, education, rearing, virtue, and opportunity. And THESE roots are found in all cultures, in all economic systems.

Marx taught that the "alienation" was in the long run due to private ownership of capital as such, not merely the particular form of capitalism that this or that society developed: a philosophical stance against ownership of capital. (That's why he insisted on revolution rather than mere reform.) The Popes from Leo XIII on have stated without cessation that there is NOTHING inherently wrong with private ownership of capital, and that this indeed is an important hallmark of just and wholesome society.

By who? I know El Salvadoran death squads thought so, but who else? The Order has a lot of problems, but Communists?

Try this one:


That was simply the FIRST Google item for "Jesuit Liberation Theology". I didn't have to go any further than that.

What did Georg San - running dog of Communism - say that contradicts what Pope Benedict XVI said in Spe Salvi? You implied that San was a Marxist from a part of the Vatican full of them, and that his opinions were "meaningless". Yet where does he dissent from the encyclical quoted above?

Yes, there are Jesuits, primarily found in the developing world, who embrace Liberation Theology. And?

Benedict has a far more nuanced and penetrating response;

Liberation theology is a phenomenon with an extraordinary number of layers. There is a whole spectrum from radically marxist positions, on the one hand, to the efforts which are being made within the framework of a correct and ecclesial theology, on the other hand, a theology which stresses the responsibility which Christians necessarily hear for the poor and oppressed, such as we see in the documents of the Latin American Bishops' Conference (CELAM) from Medellin to Puebla...

...An analysis of the phenomenon of liberation theology reveals that it constitutes a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church. At the same time it must be borne in mind that no error could persist unless it contained a grain of truth. Indeed, an error is all the more dangerous, the greater that grain of truth is, for then the temptation it exerts is all the greater.

Finally, B16 on Marx's theories on alienation; Describing humanity's alienation, Marx had "provided a clear image of the man who has fallen victim to brigands".


1. It appears that the professor's name is Sans, not San. He deserves to have his name spelled correctly, at least.

2. You allowed that the El Salvador thugs thought that the Jesuits were communists, but suggested nobody else thought so.

I linked the article from the Vatican on the silencing of Fr. Sobrino to indicate others thought so.

You responded that just being a liberation theology admirer doesn't condemn one, there are many aspects of that theology.

True. But my point with the link was not merely that others viewed some Jesuits as communists, but that the Vatican has silenced one on account of his theories (if my memory serves, yet another of them, but I won't insist on it).

3. Finally, B16 on Marx's theories on alienation; Describing humanity's alienation, Marx had "provided a clear image of the man who has fallen victim to brigands".

I am not quibbling with Marx's description of the condition man fell to. And I said that. Sans goes further than that, by giving support for Marx's theories about that condition. And Marx's understanding of economics. This is NOT consistent with what the Popes have said. Your own quote shows B16 disapproving of Marx's basic theory of man and economics.

(I have no idea why you would wish to defend the Jesuits from a charge of communist leanings in the context of this thread. I don't see how it helps your other points (nor how, should the Jesuits be unfairly castigated as communists, that would harm your other points. It should be irrelevant to the other things you were saying. Why make a point of it? I too know perfectly sound Jesuits, good and holy men. I am not saying that every Jesuit is a communist.)

4. I did not say of Sans that his opinions were meaningless. I said that the FACT of the Vatican's newspaper reprinting the article is meaningless, insofar as giving official support for any theory or point of view is concerned. It is a newspaper, after all, not the official acts of the Vatican, nor a doctrinal statement or dogmatic pronouncement.

Great Tony, you can't back-up your smear of the Jesuits as an Order of Communists, show any divergence between Sans and Benedict as it pertains to Marx (both say his materialism is the root of his error), but you can correct my spelling. Awesome. Maybe instead of offering a knee-jerk, scandal-mongering quip that elicits an equally juvenile response about the Vatican newspaper working on a "glowing reassessment of Stalin", you can pause before playing to the crowd.

The pot calling the swan black. The present king of smear around here (oh-so-subtly connected Geert Wilders with Hitler on the other thread) accuses the careful commentator Tony, of all people, of a "smear" against the Jesuits.

Lydia, you were calling Pat Buchanan some kind of Nazi sympathizer not too long ago, and just implied the Vatican newspaper harbors Stalinist impulses.No wonder Geert Wilders holds appeal for you.

(oh-so-subtly connected Geert Wilders with Hitler on the other thread)

Proof please.

Lydia, thanks. Very much.

Responding to those comments of Kevin that are worth a response:
That wraps it up pretty well.

Translation; "I lack the integrity to retract a slur against an entire Order of the Church and one that is still producing martyrs.

Kevin, are you aware that explicitly putting words in the mouth of another blogger is extraordinarily bad manners, and harmful to the possibility of constructive discussion? Please be so kind as to apologize.

If there is even ONE person out there besides Kevin who would wish to see more of the quite extensive connections between Jesuits and Marxist leanings, I will provide them. I thought a single example was sufficient to indicate the direction.

Remember: first of all, the story was run by the Jesuits, who are also referred to as the Communist-running-dog Jesuits.

Tony, do you deny those are you words? If not join me in condemning the party who issued them under your name. If they are your words, apologize. The sooner the better.

I was referring to these words, of course.

Translation; "I lack the integrity to retract a slur against an entire Order of the Church and one that is still producing martyrs

I will deal with the Jesuits if anyone out there but you wants me to.

Sorry, Tony, you have to understand that Kevin gets very defensive and even downright angry about strong criticism against Catholic leaders or groups, even when it comes from fellow Catholics. Especially those on the right. I could cite other examples but won't hijack the thread for the purpose.

Lydia is fine with bashing the Jesuits as Commies. She has never had her kids educated by any, seen their work in an inner-city like Newark, met one who conducts missions in Africa, or ever met Father Joseph Koterski. Experience would just complicate her cherished ideological narrative, so yep, Tony says on the internet the Jesuits are just a bunch of Reds, and that is good enough for her. In between hearing of the virtues of Geert Wilders, we will no doubt be regaled with stories about the Marxism that informs their mission.

Tony didn't say that. He made a comment of a kind that is pretty commonplace, while saying quite clearly that he has known great Jesuits. You must have wasted a lot of time during Fr. Neuhaus's lifetime writing letters to him about his frequent humorous remarks about colleges "in the Jesuit tradition." Do you also keep demanding an apology until you drive people nuts when they make the joke about the Jesuit and the novena? (In the joke, the Jesuit has never heard of a novena.) Remarks about the general unreliability of the Jesuits, with, of course, many and notable exceptions, are incredibly widespread among faithful Catholics. While we're talking "lavender," ever hear of the "lavender mafia" in the seminaries, weeding out too-orthodox applicants for the priesthood? I mean, goodness. You are way, way, too thin-skinned, Kevin.

Is that the fallback position now? The Order has internal problems not uncommon to the Western Church's priesthood, so repeating a "commonplace" about it being sympathetic to a murderous ideology is fair game? Quite a standard.

There is a certain type of American Catholic rightist that finds allies in the strangest places. Pinochet's criminal regime is an example of one being viewed as so sound in its economics and anti-communism that surely any ill that came to the Catholic clergy there was either understandable, or best left invisible to the rest of us.

I don't think it being thin-skinned in refuting a charge that echoes that kind of ignorance and indifference. And note; I am saying you are both ignorant and not apathetic towards Latin American fascism.

On another note; still waiting to see how the article on George Sans diverges from what Benedict XVI wrote in Spe Salvi. Seems only logical that if one is a Comsymp, so too the other.

You need to back off, Kevin. Tony has already given evidence in support of a comment which he *made clear* does not apply to all Jesuits. I, too, have known good Jesuits and bad ones, as my husband got an undergraduate degree from a Jesuit university quite some years ago, when their liberal arts program was still worth something. But the existence of many Jesuits sympathetic to many unorthodox principles is well-known. Just get down off your high horse and chill.

And note; I am saying you are both ignorant and not apathetic towards Latin American fascism.

??? ??

Who in the world has mentioned anything about Latin American fascism? And what has Lydia said about that topic, or any regime in Latin America, that warrants calling her ignorant on the subject?

As for "not apathetic", well, I guess outright hostility is included under that description, but since she hasn't said anything about it AT ALL, how do you draw such a conclusion? Or any conclusion? Based on what data? Or are you just guessing, based on your internal radar system?

I'll chill knowing no retraction, no matter how justified will ever come.

no retraction, no matter how justified will ever come

That's another blatantly inappropriate comment. I have, in the past: apologized to Maximos after a stupid comment, admitted to others when I was in error, explicitly accepted criticism for comments that were too simple to be quite accurate or too vaguely stated.

Your comment is a personal insult rather than a reasonable observation.

I was not talking about a past that I am unaware of, I am talking about your comments on this specific thread. You can't even muster; "I got carried away like you do." Instead you hinted at more damning evidence to come.

Don't be so quick to call anyone who finds value in some of Marx's work a Communist. O.k.? That is insulting.

I was not talking about a past that I am unaware of, I am talking about your comments on this specific thread.

Well, that would be the problem, wouldn't it?

Kevin, I have a request. Here this thread has been hijacked by comments between you and me that were useless to the overall subject of the thread. That hijacking would not have happened if we simply don't EVER, IN ANY WAY, reference, speak to, criticize, or even compliment ANY aspect of each other's comments. That would, I think, greatly improve the whole arena. Will you agree?

For the record, Tony has nothing to retract or apologize for in this thread.

Adopting Kevin's formulation: Don't be so quick to call anyone who finds value in some of [the work of European anti-Islamists] a [Nazi]. O.k.? That is insulting.

I would like to bring attention to the comments made by Anthony Esolen at Mere Comments. I thought it was one of the best observations of Dunn's Mao comments.


Right on. Esolen is great as usual.

Brilliant. Beautiful:

"Could anything else explain White House Communications Czarina Anita Dunn's fascination with Chairman Mao? Let's set the record straight, here. She was not reading Mao's Little Red Twaddle, in the way that someone with an historical imagination might read Mein Kampf, or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or even something far more innocent but ephemeral and embarrassingly silly, like the books put out by our posers from both political parties. She read Chairman Mao with the girlish glee of an admirer, holding him forth for the students whose commencement she graced. They too were to embark upon their own private wars, letting nothing so annoying as traditional morality, or the wisdom of their parents, or the precepts of their churches, or devotion to an old and venerable way of life, or love for their forefathers, prevent them from making their own decisions, deciding for themselves what would be right or wrong, and so on -- the silly speech can almost write itself, and so blitheringly imbecilic is political discourse in our day, that much of it, all but the misty praise of history's greatest mass murderer, could have come from a self-styled conservative.

"Yet there is a connection between Miss Dunn's choice of Mao for hero, and the culture-destroying politics of the far left. Like Mao, the far left honors no heritage, and looks askance at what the west calls the natural law, and what can be found in shining moral admonitions in Confucius -- the single figure Mao tried hardest to discredit. The Cultural Revolution was, in fact, a colossal human disaster, far worse than even the slaughter of some sixty million of Mao's own people; for Mao sought to murder their way of life, too, ancient and honorable as it was; and he left China with little but the bad Marxism born in the west, and a soulless hankering for western goods. Sixty million people had to die, for what? That Mao could consolidate his power, and sever China from her heritage. Perhaps somebody should give Anita Dunn a copy of the Analects, and ask her to consider whether wisdom and piety subsist in recognizing one's limitations, and in acknowledging, gratefully, the gifts one has been given from one's father and mother, one's village and nation, and -- though Confucius is no theologian -- God.

(Emphasis added)

And all the while, the very same cast of characters have their sights set on the ancient and honorable ways of life of the West.

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