“After our armed enemies have been crushed, there will still be our unarmed enemies…” Mao Zedong
During the 1930’s and 40’s China was torn by a civil war between the forces of Communist leader Mao Zedong and Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. After Japan attacked both China and the United States at the start of World War II, the US gave some financial and military support to the anti-Communist Chiang; but Soviet agents in the US government undermined Chiang’s interests in various ways. Four years after the defeat of Japan, Mao’s Communists took control of all of mainland China. Chiang and his supporters fled to Taiwan.
Mao’s victory in China was the worst imaginable disaster for the Chinese people. Over the next thirty years Mao’s Communist government killed between forty-five million and seventy-five million innocent Chinese civilians in implementing his “Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution” movements.1 Chiang, meanwhile, established an authoritarian government in Taiwan that gradually evolved, with US support, into a democracy. The people living under Chiang’s rule prospered financially, and enjoyed relatively high standards of living, even before the political reforms that made Taiwan a true democracy in the 1980’s.
The American Communists who undermined Chiang’s American support have the blood of millions of Chinese civilians on their hands, but don’t expect to hear that in a typical college history class. Most of America’s history professors and textbook writers, being the arch-leftists they are, downplay or completely ignore Mao’s crimes, while emphasizing and exaggerating Chiang’s shortcomings.
The View from the Ivory Tower
The freshman history textbook Nation of Nations,2 for example, introduces the reader to the greatest mass murderer in world history this way: “The winds of reform also blew through Asia. Some Asian leaders, like Mao Zedong in China and Ho Chi Minh in Indochina, saw Communism as the means to liberate their peoples from imperialist rule.”
Mao needed to liberate his people, the book tells us, because at the end of the 1930’s China was ruled by “the corrupt one-party dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek.”
Nation of Nations is not the only college textbook to portray Mao as a liberator and Chiang as a dictator. According to the textbook America’s Promise3, Chiang was treacherous to the United States all through WWII:
Roosevelt believed that China, under military dictator Chiang Kai-shek, should be treated as an equal partner, but Chiang often seemed more interested in resuming the civil war against the communists than in engaging the Japanese. General Joseph W. Stilwell reported widespread corruption in Chiang’s army, including sale of American supplies to the Japanese.
In describing the challenges President Truman faced at the end of WWII, America’s Promise states “In Asia, Truman confronted a full-scale war between the reactionary and corrupt nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek and communist insurgents led by Mao Zedong.”
In describing the 1949 conquest of China by Mao’s Communist forces, Nation of Nation states:
Chiang’s defeat came as no surprise to the (American) State Department. Officials there had long regarded Chiang and his officials as hopelessly corrupt and inefficient. Despite major American efforts to save his regime and stabilize China, poverty and civil unrest spread. In 1947 full-scale civil war had broken out. By February 1949 almost half of half of Chiang’s demoralized troops had defected to the Communists. So the December defeat was hardly unexpected.
Neither of the textbooks cited above mentions the prosperity, and eventual democracy, enjoyed by the people living under Chiang Kai-shek on the island of Taiwan. Nor do they mention the millions of innocent deaths engineered by Mao on the mainland. Similarly, the textbooks Give Me Liberty4 and Making a Nation5 don’t say a word about Mao’s crimes. A student who reads all four of these mainstream college textbooks would come away with the impression that Mao was an altruistic freedom fighter and Chiang was both corrupt and cruel.
Mao’s Little Helpers
The version of history offered up in these textbooks is very similar to the version provided to the Roosevelt administration, in the early 1940’s, by American diplomat John Stewart Service and American Treasury Department attaché Solomon Adler. Both men lived with economist Chi Chao-ting, who was employed by Chiang Kai-shek’s government, in a house in Chungking, China. It has now been well documented that both Adler and Chi were Soviet agents.6 Adler was identified as such in the Venona Documents, and by spy-turned-informant Elizabeth Bentley.7 Chi was identified by his cousin-by-marriage, and fellow spy, Philip Jaffe. John Service also appears to have been a Soviet agent; the evidence against him is voluminous, although all of it is circumstantial. Both Adler and Chi sought refuge in Maoist China after the war.
Back in Washington, DC, the reports of Adler and Service received sympathetic treatment from Harry Dexter White, of the Treasury Department, and Lauchlin Currie, a member of President Roosevelt’s White House Staff; both of whom were Soviet agents.8 White’s position in the Treasure department enabled him to interfere with the transfer of funds to Chiang Kai-shek’s government. Currie was able to influence President Roosevelt, then, later, President Truman, to view support for Chiang as a losing game.
Meanwhile the Roosevelt administration, at the urging of Soviet Agent Currie, sent Soviet agent Owen Lattimore to China to serve as an American “adviser” to Chiang Kai-shek.9
History as a Political Tool
When Presidents Roosevelt and Truman restricted and delayed aid to Chiang’s government, they were doing it on the basis of incomplete or false information. Neither of them had any way to foresee the horrible bloodbath that Mao would inflict on the Chinese people once he had defeated Chiang. Add to that the fact that the information they were getting was distorted by Communist agents in the American government, and it is easy excuse Roosevelt and Truman’s mistakes.
It is much more difficult to excuse the willful misrepresentations of modern history professors, who surely know all about the carnage Mao inflicted on China, and choose to withhold this information from their students.
Why is this important? Because the way history is represented in the classroom affects the political views that students will carry with them throughout their lives. Leftist scholars represent things the way they do because they know that their words have the power to leave lasting impressions.
One frightening example of this comes in a speech given by President Obama’s White House Communications Director Anita Dunn in June of 2009. Reflecting the leftist view that permeates academia (and the Obama administration) Dunn actually compared the blood-drenched tyrant Mao with Mother Teresa!
1 Courtois, Werth, Panne, Paczkowski, Bartosek,and Margolin; The Black Book of Communism, pp. 463-464.
2Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff; Nation of Nations
3Rorabaugh, Critchlow, & Baker; America’s Promise
4Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty
5Boydston, Cullather, Lewis, McGerr, & Oakes; Making a Nation
6M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History, p. 100
7ibid., p. 101
8ibid., p. 105
9Ibid., p. 397