I feel lucky that I’m not big on hero worship, religious or secular. Unlike Bob Dylan, I don’t believe we all have to “serve somebody.” But there’s no denying the human need to follow leaders of some sort. This report on Sunni Arabs applauding Saddam on television yesterday is creepy. But this one on Chinese revering Mao in a new era of “Red Tourism” is downright scary. Apparently the Chinese masses don’t realize the Great Helmsman knocked off fifty million or so of their own, give or take the population of Texas. He’s just a jolly old figure in a blue cap. Part of the reason, I suppose, is willed ignorance but part is also that such works as Jung Chang’s Mao: the Unknown Story are banned in China. [Maybe Google will scan it and make it available to them on line.-ed. I’m waiting.] The results are opinions like this one expressed to The Independent’s reporter at the end of his article:
People seem puzzled when I ask if they like Mao. “Of course we do,” says one woman. “All Chinese people like Mao Tse-Tung. He is the Chairman and the new China was built by him.”
Deng Xaioping might have had something to say about that.