Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mao's Revolution - a Lasting Monument to Cruelty and Folly

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mao's Revolution - a Lasting Monument to Cruelty and Folly

Article excerpt

We may forgive the rulers of China if they show a general inability to understand and accommodate the American political system. It must be a great puzzle to them that the Tiananmen Square massacre, which took the lives of perhaps 5,000 Chinese, created hostility in the United States that lingers to this day. After all, when Mao Tse-tung pursued policies that led directly to far greater death and destruction, he was rewarded with an American embrace.

Ordinary Americans shouldn't be blamed for the inconsistency. They witnessed the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square, which was transmitted live to a shocked world. They had indulged Mao, in contrast, because they didn't know what he had done to his people. But that excuse doesn't exonerate those who did know, or should have.

Everyone is now learning of the horrors that swept over China after the 1949 communist revolution. Imagine dozens of Rwandas, if you can. When it comes to volume of human destruction, even Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were no match.

The Washington Post, in a two-part series, has collected available evidence about Mao's era and tried to calculate the toll. "While most scholars are reluctant to estimate a total number of `unnatural deaths' in China under Mao," said reporters Valerie Strauss and Daniel Southerland, "evidence shows that he was in some way responsible for at least 40 million deaths and perhaps 80 million or more."

By contrast, Hitler is blamed for 12 million concentration-camp deaths, along with 30 million fatalities caused by the world war he started. Famines and purges under Stalin cost a paltry 30 million or 40 million lives.

The outline of the Chinese holocaust has been known for years. The persecution of "counter-revolutionaries" and "class enemies" after the revolution, says The Washington Post, produced more than 1 million deaths and possibly as many as 5 million. Hundreds of thousands were killed in 1953 after Mao declared that "95 percent of the people are good" - which launched party cadres on a fruitful effort to identify and destroy the bad 5 percent.

These campaigns were just the prelude to what Mao called the Great Leap Forward. …

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