Ed Driscoll

Mao-Maoing Time

Over at The Corner, Tim Graham writes:

Forgive me for noticing so late in the week, but why does Time look like a pathetic communist poster this week? (Mao is not the subject inside.) Is this any way to show the world your fervor for the people and their human rights? Presenting like a sun god a man who slaughtered millions?

70 million to be precise, according to what sounds like a scrupulously researched book due out this fall written by Jung Chang, Chinese expatriate author of the bestselling Wild Swans and her husband, Jon Halliday, a British historian.

Earlier this month, we linked to an Australian article about Chang and Halliday which had this classic radical chic rebuttal from Philip Short, a British author and journalist who published his own book on Mao in 1999:

“Mao was ruthless and tyrannical enough in real life that there’s no need to reduce him to a cardboard cut-out of Satan. Do we really gain in understanding by denying his complexity, his perversity, his genius and reducing him to a one-dimensional caricature?

“Mao was a tyrant, but [also] much more than that. He was the reverse of a one-dimensional man. He was a great poet, a visionary and, I would argue, a military strategist of genius. He had great skills and enormous failings. Let’s not oversimplify and pretend he was just a monster.

Fine. But the reverse should be equally true: let’s not oversimplify as Time does on their cover this week and imply that he was just a beneficent leader and kindly father-figure, either.

Update: Pamela, a.k.a., “Atlas Shrugged” has some related thoughts.