Mao Worship at the New York Times

Quick: What do New York Times columnnist Nicholas D. Kristof and Louis Farrakhan have in common?

Answer: They are both big Mao Tse Tung fans!

The New York Times continued its romantic history with Marxism (see Stalin whitewasher Walter Duranty) today in Kristof’s book review of Mao: The Unknown Story

Mao: The Real Mao
Nicholas D. Kristof

Here is a sample of his Communist-Mass Murderer-Excusing and Worshiping Book Critique:

I have reservations about the book’s judgments, for my own sense is that Mao, however monstrous, also brought useful changes to China. And at times the authors seem so eager to destroy him that I wonder if they exclude exculpatory evidence…

…The authors assert, for example, that he was not in fact a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party, as is widely believed, and that the party was founded in 1920 rather than 1921. Moreover, they rely on extensive research in Russian archives to show that the Chinese party was entirely under the thumb of the Russians. In one nine-month period in the 1920’s, for example, 94 percent of the party’s funding came from Russia, and only 6 percent was raised locally. Mao rose to be party leader not because he was the favorite of his fellow Chinese, but because Moscow chose him…

And Mao says some remarkable things about the peasants he was supposed to be championing. When they were starving in the 1950’s, he instructed: “Educate peasants to eat less, and have more thin gruel. The State should try its hardest . . . to prevent peasants eating too much.” In Moscow, he offered to sacrifice the lives of 300 million Chinese, half the population at the time, and in 1958 he blithely declared of the overworked population: “Working like this, with all these projects, half of China may well have to die.”

At times, Mao seems nuts. He toyed with getting rid of people’s names and replacing them with numbers. And discussing the possible destruction of the earth with nuclear weapons, he mused that “this might be a big thing for the solar system, but it would still be an insignificant matter as far as the universe as a whole is concerned.”

Chang and Halliday recount how the Great Leap Forward led to the worst famine in world history in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and how in 1966 Mao clawed his way back to supreme power in the chaos of the Cultural Revolution…

Another problem: Mao comes across as such a villain that he never really becomes three-dimensional. As readers, we recoil from him but don’t really understand him. He is presented as such a bumbling psychopath that it’s hard to comprehend how he bested all his rivals to lead China and emerge as one of the most worshipped figures of the last century.

Finally, there is Mao’s place in history. I agree that Mao was a catastrophic ruler in many, many respects, and this book captures that side better than anything ever written. But Mao’s legacy is not all bad. Land reform in China, like the land reform in Japan and Taiwan, helped lay the groundwork for prosperity today. The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. Indeed, Mao’s entire assault on the old economic and social structure made it easier for China to emerge as the world’s new economic dragon.

I think, Mao’s ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time, brilliantly captured in this extraordinary book – and yet there’s more to the story: Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.

It’s sad that the The Old Grey Lady will give credit to Mao who has been dead since 1976, for China’s economic growth the last few years, but, won’t give George Bush credit from the rescuing the US economy from recession by his actions the last 3-4 years.

The most telling line from the review is the leftist conviction that “the book never becomes three dimensional”… or, 4, 5, or 10 dimensional. For after all, there is no right or wrong, good or bad, black or white, the Old Lady is Grey and so are her writers.

Peking Duck, a great China Blog, is also not impressed with the review.
Conspiracy to Keep You Stupid thinks Walter Deuranty may still be working at the Times.
Roger L. Simon has some great points to make on the “mass starvation excuser”.
Bizzy Blog has more on the communist kool aid.

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