China's Low-key Mao Birthday Celebration

The mainland Chinese government marked Mao Zedong's 120th birthday in subdued fashion, according to press reports. Subdued or not, toasting Mao would be like the Germans lifting glasses of bubbly to Hitler or the Japanese marking Tojo's birth.

Granted, the late Chairman Mao wasn't the expansionist that Hitler or Tojo were; he mostly limited his butchery to his own people -- in the tens of millions by most estimates. (See The Heritage Foundation's "The Legacy of Mao Zedong is Mass Murder")

Mao was born in 1893. The Chinese zodiac pegs Mao as a "
water snake." Water snakes are "influential and insightful. They manage others." And, boy, did Mao manage other Chinese -- into gulags, forced labor, and early graves. Mao's "Great Leap Forward" involved forced collectivization of agriculture, forced industrialization, oppression, and mass murder. The later "Cultural Revolution" was about oppression, mass murder, and disposing of Mao's internal rivals -- real and imagined -- under the pretense of "cleansing" Chinese society of corrupt and corrupting influences.

The Voice of America, which should be renamed "Pajama Boy Perspective" for its wimpish take on Mao, offered not robust moral condemnation of Mao's slaughters, but under the muted sub-header "Mao's Errors" wrote this:

Critics say that such assessments do not take into account the most negative effects of some of Mao's campaigns, which have been largely forgotten by China's official historiography.

Among the most controversial policies were Mao's attempts to industrialize the Chinese countryside during the Great Leap Forward, which caused a mass famine and killed tens of million of people.

"Critics," as if there's honest intellectual disagreement between Mao's defenders and detractors over Mao's reign and policies? "Controversy," as to whether or not there's legitimate dispute about the abhorrence of butchering "tens of millions" of Chinese by a man whose bloodlust was rivaled only Hitler's and Stalin's in the 20th Century? (Okay, so we'll add Pol Pot for good measure, since his slaughters of Cambodians were a per capita nightmare.)

But it's this moral mush offered up by The Voice of America (not of my America, thank you) that should give one pause about the U.S.'s future and the West's generally. The truth about Mao -- indisputable and horrifying -- shouldn't be subject to pathetic attempts at "balance" and "fairness." Mao was one of history's great villains. Soft-pedaling or whitewashing that ugly truth benefits no one, not today's mainland Chinese, oppressed Tibetans, or threatened Chinese on Taiwan. Nor does it benefit Americans and westerns who need clear sight of China today, how it came to be, and how Mao may influence the current crop of mainland Chinese leaders.

But then there are Americans like Anita Dunn, who actually claim an admiration of Mao, to whom Mao's mass killings don't even engender controversy or merit criticism.

Human rights activists globally should insist that the mainland Chinese memorialize and remember the millions and millions of Mao's victims, rather than celebrate their killer's birthday.