Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a website of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).
The Philosophy of Mao and Mother Teresa?
The death of ten to twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of. --Mao Tse-tung
Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of this humanity. The right to life does not depend . . . on the pleasure of anyone else. --Mother Teresa
I recently wrote about the spectacle of New York's tallest building aglow in red and yellow to commemorate the founding of Mao Tse-tung's People's Republic of China. Oblivious New Yorkers basked in the glow of a leader and nation that killed more people more quickly than any leader or nation in history. Within its first two decades, Mao's Red China annihilated 60-70 million people, exceeding the combined death toll of World Wars I and II.
As I said, I'm not surprised by such horrible historical ignorance. This is what our education system, from K-12 to universities, has taught -- or failed to teach. Besides, Mao was idolized by many of the 1960s leftists who today pervade our culture and politics.
Well, behold another painful exhibit: President Obama's director of communications, Anita Dunn.
Speaking on June 5 at a high-school graduation ceremony at the National Cathedral, Dunn provided the youngsters with some nuggets of wisdom. She cited "two of my favorite political philosophers: Mao Tse-tung and Mother Teresa."
I know that seems unbelievable. Yet, thanks to the advent of FOXNews, talk-radio, and the web, these things are no longer easily censored by the partisan mainstream media. You can look them up yourself.
Specifically, Dunn's comments were exposed by Glenn Beck on Fox. In response, liberals are attacking not Dunn but Beck. This is sadly predictable, as it has always been anti-Communism that upsets liberals.
It's maddening to have watched the children of the 1960s openly embrace Chairman Mao -- some for 40 years now -- and then, on a dime, cry foul (with the media's backing) when criticized. But so be it.
Dunn has since tried to argue that she was using "irony." Even more lamely, she claims to have borrowed from a comparison she heard from late Republican political strategist Lee Atwater.
In fact, if you actually watch and read Dunn's remarks -- CNN didn't quote them in full -- you'll see she was not being ironic. She was dead serious, going into precise detail on how Mao inspired her.
Almost as if she were describing a political squabble within the Democratic or Republican Party, Dunn spoke of "when Mao Tse-tung was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over." She added:
Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army. They had the air force. They had everything on their side, and people said [to Mao], "How can you win? How can you do this?"
Therein was the core message in Dunn's parable: Inspiring the youngsters with the tale of Mao's triumph, Dunn said: "Against all the odds . . . Mao Tse-tung said, 'You fight your war, and I'll fight mine."'
Dunn told the graduates to "think about that for a second." As they so meditated, she prodded with this insight: Dunn told the teens that they "don't have to accept" others'definitions. They should not accept "external definitions." No, she told them, standing aside a crucifix, they must set their own definitions. "It is about your choices," Dunn instructed. "You figure out what's right for you."
She told the youngsters to establish their own definitions of what's right and wrong in following their own path.
To be sure, this was indeed Mao Tse-tung's philosophy: Right and wrong is not left to a single, universal authority -- to a Supreme Being -- but to oneself. Each and every human being is his or her own moral arbiter. This explains how Mao killed so many people without bothering his conscience. The Marxist-atheist created his own definitions. He decided it was right to let all those people die in order for him to follow his own path, according to his own definitions.
Of course, Anita Dunn obviously doesn't support killing 60-70 million people. But she does support a morally relativistic philosophy that is hurtful enough on its own. That philosophy, taken to its logical conclusion, allows for the kind of reckless madness advocated by Mao. This is a philosophy that, left to the wrong people -- to evil people like Mao -- can be extremely dangerous.
This is why moral relativism doesn't work, why it is nonsense, and why even its purported advocates rarely support it. (For a great book, see Greg Koukl's Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air) And it is why our schools shouldn't be inviting graduation speakers to deliver such inane messages to wide-eyed youngsters preparing to enter the world.
Alas, needless to say, none of this, from the moral relativism to Maoism, would have found approval from Mother Teresa. As the saintly nun from Calcutta put it, "There is only one God and He is God to all." We are not our own gods. There are external definitions of right and wrong -- set by God, not by ourselves.
That was Mother Teresa's philosophy, and it wasn't Mao's. When is America going to start equipping its youth with truth, both historical and moral? For now, we'll continue to reap what we've sown.
The Nobel Committee Dishonors Itself
Even CNN was shocked. Even the Obama White House was shocked.
"Only nine months into his presidency," reported a baffled CNN news anchor this morning. "President Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement made jaws drop even at the White House."
When I first heard the news, I thought it was a joke.
The announcement from the Nobel Committee defies belief, even as I've come to expect the inconceivable from the committee. I learned long ago not to take the Nobel Committee seriously. And yet, this gesture far exceeds any previous towering leap of incredulity by the committee.
To be sure, I knew the Nobel Committee would at some point award Barack Obama its hallowed prize. That was a given. But right now, only nine months into Obama's presidency, when Obama himself would surely agree that he cannot name a single foreign policy accomplishment?
Actually, the situation is worse than that: According to news reports, nominations took place eight months ago, only weeks into Obama's presidency.
How could that be? Does this make any sense at all?
It does when you consider what the Nobel Committee has become, and how it operates according to leftist political objectives. The committee has honored Barack Obama in order to make a political statement in support and encouragement of his foreign policy. The committee knows that its award has nothing to do with the absent foreign-policy accomplishments of a presidency not even a year old, or a diplomatic record that doesn't exist. Its purpose is to help Obama pursue the kind of foreign policy favored by the leftists who run the Nobel Committee.
The European-globalists on the committee agree fully with the leaders who heaped praise on Obama during the UN circus weeks ago. They agree with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez that Obama has brought "hope" to the world. They agree with Fidel Castro's hailing Obama's lead on "climate change." They agree with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Obama agrees with him on America's past "ugly behavior." Like Moammar Kaddafi, they wish Obama could be president "forever."
This award is not a statement on what Obama has done but a rubber-stamp approval of his plans for America and the world. The committee wants to lend cover to Obama as he pursues a global course opposed by conservative Republicans back home and his generals and commanders abroad. To be sure, this is the kind of meddling in domestic politics that the Nobel Committee usually decries.
That said, I'm actually quite pleased with this action. Why? Because it further undermines the credibility of the Nobel Committee as an allegedly impartial organization. This further shows that the group is inherently political and unabashedly left-wing. In other words, this gesture has the noble effect of exposing the ignoble Nobel Committee for what it really is.
I would like to offer two quick examples from the very recent past:
In 2002, the Nobel Committee awarded President Jimmy Carter. Personally, I long supported recognizing Carter for negotiating the Camp David Accords, which was a great accomplishment in an otherwise disastrous presidency. And yet, the Nobel Committee waited over two decades to give Carter the prize. It awaited the presidency of George W. Bush, whose foreign policy these liberal Europeans doggedly opposed, as did a very vocal Jimmy Carter.
The committee's decision to finally commend Carter was motivated in large part by its desire to make a statement against Bush. It was a crass political move by the shamelessly partisan committee. It put a dark cloud over Carter's recognition; it stained the prize.
One more example: A decade before Carter, the Nobel Committee honored Mikhail Gorbachev.
Here, too, I think Gorbachev deserves accolades. I'm a conservative who credits Gorbachev for helping to peacefully end the Cold War. Unfortunately, the committee should have given Ronald Reagan a share in that prize. Instead, the committee specifically thanked Gorbachev for taking down the Berlin Wall, an action that Gorbachev had explicitly opposed from the outset -- thus prompting Reagan's Brandenburg Gate speech. What a farce!
And now, in 2009, once again, the Nobel Committee has honored a leader in a blatantly political way -- and in a way that dishonors itself.
Frankly, Obama supporters should be angry. This award, based on transparent political interests, will not be taken seriously. Had the Nobel Committee done this later, Obama's advocates would have something to applaud.
Instead, they will find themselves trying to defend the nonsensical -- or, at least, the left-wing nonsense of the Nobel Committee. *
"[O]f those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1
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