Red Ken and Red China

The Mayor of London, fresh from palling around with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, 'dropped a clanger' yesterday, as the Brits say. 'Red Ken' Livingstone is defending the memory of Chairman Mao, usually reckoned to be the deadliest dictator in history, with the blood of about 70 million of his people on his hands, not to mention some very nasty habits.

Guy Adams, writer of the "Pandora" column in the U.K. Independent, brings us the story:

Back in January, Ken used a visit to Beijing to defend the Communist regime's human rights record, comparing the Tiananmen Square massacre to poll tax riots in Trafalgar Square.

Yesterday, history repeated itself. During his weekly Mayoral Question Time at City Hall, Livingstone, right, decided to stick up for one of the last century's foremost dictators, Chairman Mao.

Asked about his attitude to regimes alleged to abuse human rights (the Tory questioner cited China and Venezuela) Ken claimed Mao's cultural revolution was "justified", because it improved chiropody.

"One thing that Chairman Mao did was to end the appalling foot binding of women," he announced. "That alone justifies the Mao Tse—tung era."

Mr. Livingstone's grasp of history is consistent with his grasp of political economy.

Foot—binding was outlawed in the Chinese Revolution of 1911, the one led by Dr. Sun Yat—sen, the revolution that created The Republic of China, the government that rules Taiwan today. The one with democratic elections and a higher per capita GDP than Spain.

The survivors of earlier foot—binding, with their deformed feet, did not get much support, shall we say, following the communist revolution. Because foot—binding was mainly inflicted on women from the upper class, most communists had little sympathy for the survivors they encountered following their revolution. Although not officially persecuted for their feet, upper class Chinese were subjected to the worst sorts of abuse once Mao took over.

Mao had nothing to do with saving women from foot—binding, and his supporters abused the surviving victims. He didn't reverse the policy, to be sure, so he gets some credit. But that is because his revolution destroyed the class which had once practiced it. Many victims of foot—binding were beaten, and some were liquidated.

The Mayor of London obviously instinctively attributes all good changes in China to communism. Hilariously, in this case, his justification of Mao is not merely inappropriate, it is false. Ironically, Mao made matters worse for the very victims Red Ken's red heart bleeds for.

The Mayor's ignorance is quite literally a joke.

Acceptance of the baseline notion that communism was good for China is profoundly dangerous in anyone close to levers of political power in the West. Such detachment from the real consequences of ideas invites disaster.

But defending Mao, whose truly monstrous nature is now becoming known thanks to the definitive work of Jung Chang and John Halliday, is no longer a viable position. Even 'progressive' friends on the left, like the Independent, notice.

Livingstone is notorious for making embarrassing off—the—cuff statements, so the latest clanger is no surprise. But this one reveals a profound disconnect between reality and the Mayor's understanding of it.

Then again, that is not so surprising. If Hugo Chavez meets "your standards":http://vcrisis.com/index.php?content=letters/200605180445, overlooking unpleasant realities must be second—nature by now.

Hat tip: China Challenges 

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.

The Mayor of London, fresh from palling around with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, 'dropped a clanger' yesterday, as the Brits say. 'Red Ken' Livingstone is defending the memory of Chairman Mao, usually reckoned to be the deadliest dictator in history, with the blood of about 70 million of his people on his hands, not to mention some very nasty habits.

Guy Adams, writer of the "Pandora" column in the U.K. Independent, brings us the story:

Back in January, Ken used a visit to Beijing to defend the Communist regime's human rights record, comparing the Tiananmen Square massacre to poll tax riots in Trafalgar Square.

Yesterday, history repeated itself. During his weekly Mayoral Question Time at City Hall, Livingstone, right, decided to stick up for one of the last century's foremost dictators, Chairman Mao.

Asked about his attitude to regimes alleged to abuse human rights (the Tory questioner cited China and Venezuela) Ken claimed Mao's cultural revolution was "justified", because it improved chiropody.

"One thing that Chairman Mao did was to end the appalling foot binding of women," he announced. "That alone justifies the Mao Tse—tung era."

Mr. Livingstone's grasp of history is consistent with his grasp of political economy.

Foot—binding was outlawed in the Chinese Revolution of 1911, the one led by Dr. Sun Yat—sen, the revolution that created The Republic of China, the government that rules Taiwan today. The one with democratic elections and a higher per capita GDP than Spain.

The survivors of earlier foot—binding, with their deformed feet, did not get much support, shall we say, following the communist revolution. Because foot—binding was mainly inflicted on women from the upper class, most communists had little sympathy for the survivors they encountered following their revolution. Although not officially persecuted for their feet, upper class Chinese were subjected to the worst sorts of abuse once Mao took over.

Mao had nothing to do with saving women from foot—binding, and his supporters abused the surviving victims. He didn't reverse the policy, to be sure, so he gets some credit. But that is because his revolution destroyed the class which had once practiced it. Many victims of foot—binding were beaten, and some were liquidated.

The Mayor of London obviously instinctively attributes all good changes in China to communism. Hilariously, in this case, his justification of Mao is not merely inappropriate, it is false. Ironically, Mao made matters worse for the very victims Red Ken's red heart bleeds for.

The Mayor's ignorance is quite literally a joke.

Acceptance of the baseline notion that communism was good for China is profoundly dangerous in anyone close to levers of political power in the West. Such detachment from the real consequences of ideas invites disaster.

But defending Mao, whose truly monstrous nature is now becoming known thanks to the definitive work of Jung Chang and John Halliday, is no longer a viable position. Even 'progressive' friends on the left, like the Independent, notice.

Livingstone is notorious for making embarrassing off—the—cuff statements, so the latest clanger is no surprise. But this one reveals a profound disconnect between reality and the Mayor's understanding of it.

Then again, that is not so surprising. If Hugo Chavez meets "your standards":http://vcrisis.com/index.php?content=letters/200605180445, overlooking unpleasant realities must be second—nature by now.

Hat tip: China Challenges 

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.