Burnt by the reddest red sun

Jonathan Mirsky taught Chinese at Dartmouth when I was an undergraduate. He was a huge fan of Mao and, as I recall, returned to campus from his first visit to the mainland over the summer of 1972 wearing a Mao jacket to slightly comic effect. He left Dartmouth shortly thereafter to follow his scholarly interests in the medium of journalism, where he has had a distinguished career. Somewhere along the way he got a bead on Mao and has become a reliable expositor of his gargantuan evil. Mirsky’s column in today’s International Herald Tribune explores the reason for the preservation of Mao’s mythical reputation in China today: “Maintaining the Mao myth.” (Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.)
JOHN adds: Mirsky was a very formidable guy when I sort-of knew him as an undergraduate. He was a committed Communist at that time; I once heard him say that he began every telephone conversation by saying, “F*** you, government wiretapper.” I lost track of him, and, many years later, was astonished to see anti-Communist articles appearing under his name. Mirsky’s political evolution must have paralleled our own to some extent, but writ larger and with a specific emphasis on China. I doubt whether Mirsky is a conservative, but he deserves great credit for changing his mind about Communism when the evidence demanded it. I wonder sometimes whether today’s leftists will have the integrity to acknowledge their errors in years to come.


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