The statement from Charles Grassley’s office is entirely on point; I guess that the only really surprising thing about it is that it actually had to be issued. I continue to hope that someday, people like Mao, Che Guevara, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin will be seen to have been as despicable as Adolf Hitler was, but I increasingly wonder whether the masses will have that epiphany during my lifetime. If the Department of Education were actually on the job, it might have read this before publishing the Mao quote:
Can you name the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century? No, it wasn’t Hitler or Stalin. It was Mao Zedong.
According to the authoritative “Black Book of Communism,” an estimated 65 million Chinese died as a result of Mao’s repeated, merciless attempts to create a new “socialist” China. Anyone who got in his way was done away with — by execution, imprisonment or forced famine.
For Mao, the No. 1 enemy was the intellectual. The so-called Great Helmsman reveled in his blood-letting, boasting, “What’s so unusual about Emperor Shih Huang of the China Dynasty? He had buried alive 460 scholars only, but we have buried alive 46,000 scholars.” Mao was referring to a major “accomplishment” of the Great Cultural Revolution, which from 1966-1976 transformed China into a great House of Fear.
The most inhumane example of Mao’s contempt for human life came when he ordered the collectivization of China’s agriculture under the ironic slogan, the “Great Leap Forward.” A deadly combination of lies about grain production, disastrous farming methods (profitable tea plantations, for example, were turned into rice fields), and misdistribution of food produced the worse famine in human history.
Deaths from hunger reached more than 50 percent in some Chinese villages. The total number of dead from 1959 to 1961 was between 30 million and 40 million — the population of California.
Mao, like Stalin, indisputably murdered more people than Hitler. He tyrannized the world’s most populous nation for more than a quarter century; and while by most counts his victims were somewhat less numerous than Stalin’s, the range of error makes it quite possible that Mao Zedong was the greatest mass murderer of the century. Mao was both the Lenin and the Stalin of Chinese Communism: not only did he found the system, but he raised it to lethal maturity. While Mao waited a few years to antagonize the peasants with forced collectivization, the killing began immediately. As Laszlo Ladany observes in his The Communist Party of China and Marxism: 1921-1985:
There are few parallels in history for what the [Chinese] Communists did [when they first came to power]. The French Revolution had many victims, but it did not institute a lasting political system. The October Revolution in the Soviet Union was not a peaceful affair, but the mass killings did not come till years later, during Stalin’s collectivisation… In China, the terror - what else can one call it? - was widespread and saw the beginning of a lasting system.
After Stalin’s death, Khrushchev and his successors eliminated some of the most horrific aspects of his regime. Mao denounced these reforms as “revisionism,” studiously repeating each of Stalin’s horrors. Unlike Stalin, Mao never fully succeeded in utterly crushing internal opposition within the Chinese Communist Party, which is probably why Mao’s policies were not even more deadly than they were.
They could have read Leszek Kolakowski as well, and I encourage everyone to do so. As I mention in my review of Kolakowski’s epic work. “among other things, Mao told his followers that they must take care to not read too many books, not even Marxist/communist books. The mind reels.”
The “Kids’ Zone,” of course, was channeling Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book (or more likely one of the thousands of “quotable quotes” websites on the Internet that mistakenly render insatiable as satiable. We’re not, by the way, suggesting that the Department of Education has been infiltrated by Maoists. Rather, one of its websites seems to be in the hands of historically illiterate hacks.
Needless to say, the prominent featuring of Mao’s quote attracted more than the usual quota of attention to the “Kids’ Zone,” and the snippet was quickly removed. Here is what it was replaced with: “Sorry there is no quote of the of the today.”
The Mao quote eventually got replaced with a quote from Abraham Lincoln. One cannot help but wonder whether the removal occurred for the right reasons, however. For all we know, it may have just been a strategic retreat.