I was catching up on my saved DVR programs and saw the CBS Sunday Morning program which aired 08/03/2008. There was a great segment by correspondent Martha Teichner which was based on the book, Mao: The Unknown Story. If I didn’t know better, I could have sworn it was on Fox. It was that unapologetic. The authors, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, document how Mao was responsible for the deaths of approximately 70 million people. The cynic in me wonders if it took a rival network’s Olympic coverage from China to get them to run such an anti-communist segment. But that is ungracious, many kudos to CBS.
As good as the segment was, I wanted more. I wanted them to document the fellow travelers in the West who aided his time in power, those who carried around and spoke glowingly of his little red book, Quotations from Chairman Mao. To draw the parallels to someone like Castro, who while the number of deaths attributable to him could never approach those of Mao, essentially operate from the same playbook. Today, Hitler and Stalin have no defenders [thankfully] , Mao and Castro still do. In the case of Mao, its the Party putting on the Olympics.
That’s the unspoken responsibility of those of us directly or indirectly aware of what goes on in Communist countries. We know that the people in those countries are dependent on people like us to notice and speak out about what we know of their world. You know that people in Taiwan and Tibet are hoping that someone cares. So we watch the Olympics from China and try to enjoy them. But the ubiquitous image of Mao in the background is instructive. Whatever the aspirations of regular Chinese people, what the rest of the world must deal with is a government who differs from Mao in execution not philosophy.
5 Things You’ll Learn from Mao: The Unknown Story
- Mao became a Communist at the age of 27 for purely pragmatic reasons: a job and income from the Russians.
- Far from organizing the Long March in 1934, Mao was nearly left behind by his colleagues who could not stand him and had tried to oust him several times. The aim of the March was to link up with Russia to get arms. The Reds survived the March because Chiang Kai-shek let them, in a secret horse-trade for his son and heir, whom Stalin was holding hostage in Russia.
- Mao grew opium on a large scale.
- After he conquered China, Mao’s over-riding goal was to become a superpower and dominate the world: “Control the Earth,” as he put it.
- Mao caused the greatest famine in history by exporting food to Russia to buy nuclear and arms industries: 38 million people were starved and slave-driven to death in 1958-61. Mao knew exactly what was happening, saying: “half of China may well have to die.”