Reed Irvine - Editor
|September B, 1976|
MEDIA EULOGIES DOWNPLAY MAO'S CRIMES
The late Chinese dictator, Mao Tse-tung, had much in common with Joseph Stalin. Both were tyrants with life-and-death power over millions. Both exercised those powers ruthlessly, killing millions of innocent people. In both cases the purpose of the bloodletting was the same. They set out to terrorize their subjects in order to cow them into total submission.
Both dictators shamelessly employed all the media, press, radio, movies, theater and even literature and are to build themselves up as demigods. Artistic creativity was subordinated to the whims of these tyrants and to the interests of their regimes.
For about three decades, Mao and Stalin ruled huge numbers of people. They drove them without mercy to speed up the industrialization and militarization of their countries. In both cases their economic policies resulted in widespread suffering, the massive use of forced labor, enormous economic waste and massive famine.
Both men sponsored and financed subversion in other countries. They used the ideology of Marxism to manipulate puppets abroad who organized and carried out conspiracies to overthrow governments. In addition to these puppets, they both had their admirers who excused all the crimes, the bloodletting, the total extinction of human freedom and the suffering. The end, they said, justified the means.
However, when Stalin died in March 1953, the leading newspapers in the United States were not among his admirers. The American press told the truth about the Soviet dictator. The New York Times said: "At his doorstep must be hid the millions of victims claimed by the collectivization campaign and the famine which accompanied it in the early 1930's. In his account must be reckoned the guilt for the cynical deal with Hitler... On his conscience, if he had any, lay the burden of shame for the enslavement of millions in forced labor camps and for the semi-enslavement of the millions of workers chained to the factories by legislative fiat... From his example of deceit and falsehood came the inspiration for the world of lies in which the communist-ruled people of the world live today... He wore the mantle of the high priest of utopian communism, but his rule produced a reality more reminiscent of George Orwell's hell on earth."
By CHARLES R. SMITH UPI Senior Editor HONG KONG (UPI) - Chinese Communist party Chairman Mao Tse-tung died today at the age of 82, ending a lifetime of revolution that made him the ruler of a quarter of all mankind. The nation of 800 million was plunged into mourning. Mao was the most powerful man in modern Chinese history and his death appeared certain to ignite another titanic struggle for power in a nation that has known no other leader in its 27-year history. (Editor's note: Most wire service accounts do not mention the numbers of people slain in Mao's accession to and retention or power. Possibly 60,000,000 Chinese died during the revolution against Chiang Kai Shek, and Mao was responsible for the bloodiest phase of the Korean War. There were 157,530 American casualties in that conflict, more than 54,000 of them being fatalities. ) President Ford called Mao a "most remarkable and a very great man."
Here is how the editor of one small paper, The Martinsville (Ind.) Daily Reporter, supplemented a UPI story on the death of Mao. The editor pointed out that the wire services generally failed to mention the number of deaths caused by Mao's revolution. The 60 million figure he cites is at the upper range of the estimates cited in "The Human Cost of Communism in China" published by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1971. Papers that depend on news services for national and international news should protest the inadequate stories they were fed on Mao Tse-tung.
The political liquidation campaigns carried out in China after Mao took power in 1949 were the bloodiest in history. A Mao sympathizer, Edgar Snow, quoted Chou En-lai as saying that 830,000 people were "destroyed" between 1949 and 1954. Our State Department put the figure for the 1949-58 period at 15 million. The Soviets put the figure at 25 million plus for 1949-65. The New York Times itself on June 2, 1959 used a figure of 30 million. These estimates were cited in a study titled "The Human Cost of Communism in China" published by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1971.
This Senate Subcommittee study further estimated that Mao's regime had caused additional deaths ranging from 1.75 million to 3.5 million in various campaigns, such as the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution," after 1938. It also said that a conservative estimate of the number who had died in forced labor camps and frontier development would be 15 million to 25 million. These estimates indicate that Mao was responsible for the deaths of somewhere between 30 million and 60 million Chinese, not counting the estimated 13 million who died in the civil wars and the 500,000 to 1.2 million who died in the Korean War.
This compares to Robert Conquest's estimate that Lenin and Stalin together caused the deaths of 35-45 million of their subjects. The Soviets allege that in 1960 alone, Mao's regime caused more deaths of Chinese than the total number killed in the Sino-Japanese War.
Many of the victims took their own lives. They included many of China's intellectuals who had helped bring Mao to power. In 1957, when Mao briefly encouraged public criticism of his regime, Professor Yang Shihchan sent Mao a 10,000-word letter, which was published in the Yangtze Daily. The professor said, "During the social reform campaigns, unable to endure the spiritual torture and humiliation imposed by the struggle... the intellectuals who chose to die by jumping from tall buildings, drowning in rivers, swallowing poison, cutting their throats or by other methods, were innumerable. The aged had no escape and pregnant women were given no pardon... Comparing our method of massacre with that adopted by the fascists at Auschwitz, the latter appeared more clumsy and childish (at any rate, they hired executioners), but more prompt and 'benevolent.' If we say that Comrade Stalin has not escaped from condemnation in history for his cruel massacre of comrades, then our Party, in my opinion, will also be condemned for our mass of intellectuals who had already 'surrendered' themselves to us. Our Party's massacre of intellectuals, and the mass burying alive of the literati by the tyrant, Ch'in Shihhuang, will go down in China's history as two ineradicable stigma." ("The Human Cost of Communism in China." p. 22).
Professor Yang would be heartbroken today if he could see how easily the free press of the greatest free country in the world has swept under the rug the crimes of Mao.
Our newspaper of record, The New York Times, lavished three full pages on Mao's obituary, but only a few lines were devoted to his enormous crimes against his own people. Here is how The Times dealt with Mao's reign of terror.
"Unlike Stalin, Mao never sought to put vast numbers of his opponents in the party to death... However, he did not cavil at killing those whom he considered true counterrevolutionaries... In the early 1950's, to consolidate the Communists' power, Mao launched a violent campaign against counterrevolutionaries. According to an estimate accepted by Stuart Schram, Mao's most careful and sensitive biographer, from a million to three million people, including landlords, nationalist agents, and others suspected of being 'class enemies' were executed.
"'There is no evidence whatever,' Mr. Schram wrote, that Mao 'took pleasure in killing or torturing. But he has never hesitated to employ violence whenever he believed it necessary.'"
In the introductory paragraphs of this lengthy obituary, The Times had said: "To consolidate his new regime in the early 50's he launched a campaign in which hundreds of thousands were executed. (emphasis added)
That was as much as The New York Times cared to say on this gory subject. In its editorial on Mao on September 10, The Times could not bring itself to mention any deaths other than that of Mao himself. The closest it came to mentioning the dark side of his character was in a reference to him as "a Chinese Stalin ruthlessly wiping out the institutions of the old order."
The Washington Post also devoted three full pages to Mao's obituary; it disposed of his mass murders in one brief paragraph near the end of what amounted to a glowing eulogy. The reign of terror, according to The Post was related to the Korean War. According to this account, some 3 million were believed to have lost their lives. The only victims mentioned by this paper were "counterrevolutionaries."
The Post concluded its eulogy with the observation that "Mao, the warrior, philosopher and ruler was the closest the modern world has seen to the god-heroes of antiquity." The Post's editorial could find nothing in Mao's career to criticize.
The Washington Star and The Christian Science Monitor had shorter laudatory obituaries. Neither mentioned any crimes that Mao may have committed. Similarly, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Denver Post obituaries omitted any mention of Mao's bloodletting. The Post-Dispatch carried a lengthy obituary by John Roderick of the Associated Press which referred to the Nationalist attack on the Communists in Shanghai in 1927 as a "bloodbath," but which said not a word about the millions liquidated by Mao.
CBS News aired a glowing hour-long tribute to Mao in which Chinese history ot the past 50 years was reviewed from a pro-Maoist viewpoint. All that was said of bloodletting was this: "The emphasis was on pressure and persuasion, but inevitably there were victims. An estimated 2 million landlords and others considered counterrevolutionary were tried and executed."
The Public Broadcasting Service was not content to ignore or quickly glide over the embarrassing question of Mao's mass murders. They sought to rebut the charge that he had done anything brutal. For this purpose they trotted out Mao's old admirer, John Stewart Service, the retired foreign service officer. Asked about reports that millions had been killed, Service said such reports should be taken with a "great bucket of salt." He suggested that such stories were simply inspired by Taiwan. According to Service, Mao was not brutal, just "determined, tough and hardboiled."
After plowing through so many fawning obituaries, it came as something of a surprise to find in Time magazine a portrait of Mao that did not obscure his evil deeds. It was refreshing to find one publication that commented on the issue of human freedom.
Time noted: "These gains have cost the Chinese dearly. There is no freedom. Mao's persistent demands for ideological purity encouraged the growth of a pervasive apparatus of thought control. Literature and art, dominated by the fanatical Chiang Ching have become banal and monothematic-a far cry from the glorious creativity of previous centuries." Time also pointed out that the invitation to the Chinese to voice their criticisms in 1957 had brought forth a storm of bitter criticism and that Mao responded with a campaign aimed at those who had spoken out too strongly.
Time used a very low figure, one million, for the number killed in the first six years of Mao's rule, but it did not suggest that they were all dangerous counterrevolutionaries. Moreover, it noted, "Countless millions succumbed to the rigors of China's re-education (ed.: forced labor) camps.
Time even reminded its readers that Mao had made some shocking statements during his lifetime, including an observation on nuclear war, which revealed his disdain for the value of human life. In 1947 he said: "It is said that if worse came to worst and half of mankind died, the other half would remain, while imperialism would be razed to the ground, and the whole world would become socialist; in a number of years there would be 2.7 billion people again."
When one notes the eagerness with which most American journalists who authored Mao's obituaries erased the memory of the tyrant's monstrous crimes against humanity and freedom, one can only conclude that Stalin died a quarter of a century too soon. Had he been able to hold on another 23 years, he too might have benefited from an outpouring of praise for his achievements and the erasure of his crimes from the record.
One lesson that dictators could learn from this is that they must be prepared to go all the way. If they want their position in history, or at least contemporary history, to be secure, it is better to exterminate millions, not a few thousand. It is better to suppress freedom totally, not to tolerate a single remnant. It is especially important to make sure that the Western press is not allowed freedom to chronicle your activities. They will honor you more if you shut them out and make them dependent on your own carefully tailored version of what transpired.
In October 1975, WPTB, a public TV station in Miami aired a program about migrant farm labor in Florida called, "A Day Without Sunshine." Its theme was that the conditions under which the migrants live and work are abominable. It alleged that they are paid starvation wages, that they enjoy almost no recourse to the law, since "most social legislation excludes or limits coverage for farm workers."
The remedy for this, the program suggested, was the unionization of the farm workers, with a lengthy segment being given over to a description of the wonders allegedly achieved by the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) under the controversial Cesar Chavez. The promotion of this union in the program was not accidental. It has been learned that both the producer and associate producer of the program had previously helped put out a publication of a committee organized to promote the Chavez union in Florida. There was a remarkable similarity between this publication and "A Day Without Sunshine." One big difference was that the union and its backers had to pay for the publication, while the taxpayers picked up the tab for the TV program.
A Florida farmers' association protested the TV program, pointing out that it contained numerous errors of fact. For example, they listed 18 different laws that provide protection and benefits to farm workers in Florida. These include laws providing for minimum wages, control of child labor, workmen's compensation, and social security coverage. They challenged the figures given on wages and earnings of the farm workers, and they said there was no basis for the claim that migrant workers have a life expectancy of only 49 years.
The Public Broadcasting Service picked up this inaccurate and biased program and distributed it throughout the country, even though it had been informed by the farm organization that the program was badly flawed. The farmers were not given a satisfactory reply to their charge that the program was loaded with factual errors.
After PBS gave the program national distribution, Allan Grant, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, sent a strong protest to the president of the Public Broadcasting Service. He said: "It presents farmers as heartless exploiters, businessmen as calloused opportunists, and legislators as dupes of agribusiness.' Its conclusion is that Florida farm workers can only be rehabilitated through their organization by Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers. This is not surprising since several of the figures presented on the film as 'experts' are in fact longtime boycott workers for UFW in Florida." Mr. Grant asked for time to present the other side of this controversial issue.
This letter from the president of the Farm Bureau went unanswered by PBS for 46 days. A vice president of PBS finally got around to sending a reply, but he failed to face up to the charge that the program was grossly inaccurate He claimed, without furnishing the least substantiation, that the program met the requirements of the fairness doctrine of the Federal Communications Commission. He rejected out of hand the request for an opportunity to tell the other side of the story.
The AIM Report is published twice monthly by Accuracy in Media, Inc. 777 14th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, Reed Irvine, Chairman; John R. Van Evera, Executive Secretary. Subscriptions are $15 a year. Contributions are tax-deductible.
On September 7, Reed Irvine, Chairman of Accuracy in Media, wrote Lawrence K. Grossman, President of the Public Broadcasting Service, asking the questions necessary to lay the basis for a fairness doctrine complaint. Mr. Irvine said that the program had dealt with at least two clearly defined important controversial issues. One issue was the working conditions, wages and benefits enjoyed by migrant farm workers in Florida. The other was the question whether the alleged evils described in the program could best be resolved by unionization of the farm workers and specifically by their joining the United Farm Workers Union.
Mr. Irvine noted that the program had presented only one side of these issues. He asked whether PBS had presented other programming dealing with these same issues or if they intended to do so. As one example of the one-sided approach, Mr. Irvine noted that 4" pages of the 41-page transcript had been devoted to a pitch for unionization of the farm workers and for the UFW. Next, the question of why "agribusiness" opposes unionization was raised, but it was not put to an employer, but to one of the partisans of the Chavez union. The farmers were given no opportunity to state their case, or even to indicate whether or not it was true that they opposed unionization.
As we go to press, we have received no reply from Mr. Grossman.
Public TV is notorious for its presentation of one-sided programs on controversial issues. We think that the Farm Bureau has a very valid complaint in the case of the program, "A Day Without Sunshine." The fact that the program was actually produced by strong partisans of one side in the controversy is nothing short of a scandal. You can help by demanding that the farmers be given time to tell their side of the story. We suggest that you write to Lawrence K. Grossnan, President, Public Broadcasting Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza West, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024.
Since the funds for the Public Broadcasting Service come from your tax dollars to a large degree, you may want to tell your congressman how you feel. Send him a copy of your letter to Mr. Grossman.
Address him as follows:
The Hon._________________________, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C 20515.
August 30, 1976 Accuracy In Media
Critics of the Federal Communications Commission's fairness doctrine for broadcasters often say that the government doesn't have to require broadcasters to be fair. They say that the broadcasters would give a fair shake to all sides of controversial issues even if the F.C.C. didn't insist on it. Well, consider a recent experience of Phyllis Schlafly, the lovely dynamo who leads the opposition to the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In one of her newsletters, "Eagle Forum," Mrs. Schlafly writes: I agree to do a one-hour debate on ERA with questions from a live audience on a Philadelphia TV station, to be aired on July 4. When I arrived, I found that, in addition to my opponent from IWY (International Women's Year), the producer had arranged to have five pro-ERA lawyers as 'resource persons' to 'interpret' the law, and had twice as many pro-ERAers in the audience as con. I protested this stacked deck and refused to go on under such circumstances. The station removed the lawyers and agreed to take questions from the pros and cons on a one-to-one basis. The show proceeded fairly." Phyllis Schlafly is experienced and knows her rights. The kind of stacking of the deck the producer tried to get away with is probably a violation of the fairness doctrine. The broadcast ended up being fair, but only because Mrs. Schlafly was in a position to insist that changes be made. By way of contrast, consider the treatment of ERA in the July issues of 35 women's magazines. The editor of Redbook promoted the idea of having all the women's magazines give ERA a push by running articles about it in July. These magazines have a combined circulation of 60 million. Mrs. Schlafly analysis the articles that resulted in the August issue of "The Phyllis Schlafly Report," (Box 618, Alton, IL 62002). The Report says that most of the articles were blatantly pro-ERA and that most of the magazines made no pretense of giving both sides of the debate. Mrs. Schlafly says that thousands of letters were sent to the editors in advance, asking that they treat the subject even-handedly, but these requests seemed to have been largely ignored. She says most of the magazines published articles that tended to "distort, ridicule, or falsify the Stop-ERA side." She notes that only two magazines, Ladies Home Journal and Mademoiselle, published statements by opponents of ERA. Many of the magazines are said to have directed their readers only to pro-ERA sources for additional information on the other side of the debate could be obtained. Parents' Magazine tried to give the impression that the only organizations opposing ERA are the Communist Party, the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan and something called "Hot Dog," which stands for Humanitarian Opposes the Degrading of our Girls." They did not list such opponents as the National Council of Catholic Women, the Catholic Daughters of America, the L.D.S. (Morman) Church, the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and many other civic and religious groups in addition to Mrs. Schlafly's own organization, Eagle Forum. Mrs. Schlafly contends that the articles were not only one-sided but also that they spread much inaccurate information about the consequences of ERA. If 35 magazines got together to agree on advertising rates, they might be charged with conspiring to restrain trade. They seem to have conspired to mislead their readers. That is not illegal, but it is serious.
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