Jeffrey S. Ryan: Maoist exaggerations
Loath as I am to waste time debating Guy Pacot, his latest salvo (“We need better leadership,” letters, Jan. 8) demands return fire.
My letter of Dec. 31 (“Where are the scary ‘Maoists?’), which prompted Mr. Pacot’s January letter, was aimed at Mr. Pacot’s characterization of Adolph Hitler as an atheist and fascism as an atheistic political philosophy. Given the blatant falsity of these claims, it was important to respond with truth: Hitler was a Christian, a man who despised atheism, and a man who believed the Holocaust to be a divine mission.
Mr. Pacot’s response is to change the subject. Instead, he renews his attack on the beliefs and statements of present and past Obama appointees. (While I had indeed needled Mr. Pacot for his views on that issue, it was a mere aside to the point of my letter.) Having ignored the issue of his understanding of history, he redirects the conversation to his offensive against certain Obama appointees. And now he names names. He asserts that Ron Bloom, Anita Dunn, Van Jones, John Holdren and Cass Sunstein, current or former members of the administration, are “all on record quoting Mao or supporting Marxism, espousing atheistic views” and promoting environmental legislation “as a means to political revolution.” A “quick search” of Google and http://www.youtube.com, Mr. Pacot assures us, will lead us to evidence that proves his case. Yikes.
A “quick search” on Google actually, and unsurprisingly, shows his charges are based on distortions, quotes taken out of context, and outright lies. His strongest case is against Anita Dunn. Former White House communications director Dunn did once refer to Mao Zedung as one of her “favorite” political philosophers. In the same sentence, she said the same thing about Mother Theresa. A reading of Dunn’s entire statement makes clear she thought Mao and Mother Theresa had succinctly stated some political truths. That does not make her a Maoist.
Space forbids examination of all of Mr. Pacot’s targets, but two examples should convey the gist. First is Cass Sunstein, the president’s administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and a lion in the field of constitutional law. He has taught at the University of Chicago Law School for 27 years, authored or co-authored over 25 books on the law and society, and written countless law review articles. He is neither a Maoist or a Marxist.
The second example is John Holdren. Holdren is the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology. He is an alumnus of MIT and Stanford, and taught at Harvard for 13 years. His appointment to the administration was enthusiastically received by the scientific community. The Senate confirmed him by a unanimous voice vote. The motivation for right-wing attacks appears to be his expertise in climate change and his advocacy of vigorous efforts to address the problem. So extreme is the political opposition to Holdren that Glenn Beck falsely accused Holdren of advocating “forced abortions.” For this slander, the website PolitiFact.com nominated the slur for “Lie of the Year.” Needless to say, there is no evidence whatsoever that Holdren is either a Maoist or a Marxist.
Politicians like John McCain, Newt Gingrich and Ralph Reed have also favorably quoted Mao. Where was the outrage then? Oh yeah, they’re Republicans.
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