Let A Thousand Blog Posts . . . Um . . . Get Posted

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 17, 2009

Okay, so there are a fair amount of people talking about Glenn Beck on Anita Dunn:

Dunn replied by saying that the late Lee Atwater quoted Mao, and that she was being ironic. Steve Chapman tells us that John McCain made a joke using a line from Mao, and that Grover Norquist quoted Lenin once or twice. To which one may reply by pointing out that there was very little in the video to give one the sense that Dunn was being ironic, and that “the Republicans quote Mao too!” is not much of a defense; two wrongs don’t make a right, and–let’s face it–if one is on the center-left of the political spectrum (as Dunn is), and one quotes a mass murderer on the far left with what seems to be approbation, it makes for more of an impact than if one is on the center-right, and quotes from someone on the far left. (Similarly, if one is on the center-right, one had better not ever get caught quoting Hitler approvingly, because Nazi analogies will be drawn with frightening ease, though of course, no one should be quoting Hitler approvingly, and for whatever reason, quoting Mao approvingly is not as frowned upon as quoting Hitler approvingly is.)

Peter Wehner, who appears to hold Glenn Beck in the same minimal high regard that I do, states that when it comes to examining Dunn’s comments, Beck actually does a service:

In his October 2005 essay in COMMENTARY, Arthur Waldron describes the architect of China’s Cultural Revolution this way: “Mao was the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century. Much of the killing was direct, as in the torture and purges at Yan’an. After the Communist seizure of power in 1949, the practice became countrywide. Mao set his numerical targets openly, and stressed the ‘revolutionary’ importance of killing.” It is said of Mao — who was responsible for the death of some 70 million Chinese — that he derived a “sadistic pleasure” from seeing people put to death in horrible ways.

All this goes uncommented upon by Miss Dunn. Her praise for Mao — unqualified and without caveats, based on the excerpts of her speech — is quite extraordinary. For a senior member of the White House to hold these views is more extraordinary still. Perhaps Pol Pot will be the subject of Dunn’s next favorable meditation.

Look, I don’t expect Dunn to get fired over this. And judging from her comments, she is less a Maoist and more someone who is shockingly ignorant when it comes to basic history (I recognize that this kind of behavior is just not expected from the “reality-based community,” but hey, whaddaya know?). But that doesn’t make her commentary any less excusable, and even if she is able to keep her job, she ought to get mercilessly mocked from now until the end of time for actually being complimentary about Mao.

Relatedly: Can we all agree that Mao is not someone for whom American political figures of importance and consequence ought to have any admiration whatsoever?

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