Mao On White House Tree

Now what would Christmas be without a Mao ornament on the White House tree?  Call me provincial, but somehow an ornament of a Communist dictator responsible for the deaths of approximately 60 million Chinese strikes me as a tad out of place.

Perhaps it was donated by an admirer of Mao in the Obama administration?  Maybe Anita Dunn, the former White House Communications Director?

If an image of Mao must be on the White House Christmas Tree, I would suggest this one:


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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. I’m surprised this WH hasn’t come up with its own secular D.C. version of the Nativity scene, with baby Barack surrounded by Axelrod, Rahm and Ayers. Pelosi and Reid dressed as the Magi and bearing a 1000 plus page healthcare bill as a gift while Matthews and Olberman kneel in adoration.

  2. Apparently, you did not know this, but every one of those ornaments was decorated by American school children. The balls were shipped to various schools, the children decoupaged them, and then shipped them back to the White House.

    So, if Mao ended up on one of them, it’s the fault of some 10-year-old somewhere.

  3. If those ornaments were made by school children, it seems they are already well indoctrinated in far-left propaganda.
    Elise B.

  4. Nah, those 10-year olds are honoring Mao all on their own. Seriously, any teacher encouraging a student to honor Hitler would be discipled or dismissed, but somehow Mao is different.

  5. Seriously, any teacher encouraging a student to honor Hitler would be discipled or dismissed, but somehow Mao is different.

    Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a cover photo of a group of old guard Russian Communists marching in Red Square to honor Stalin. Sure it was a bunch of old fogies hanging on to a discredited ideology, but it just struck me how odd it is that that sort of thing is somehow more acceptable. I doubt a group of elderly Germans would have gotten away with a march in honor of Hitler (actually, I think it is illegal in Germany). Somehow it’s cute to venerate these despicable monsters, as though they were not every bit as evil and cruel as ole Adolph. Unreal.

    I’ll grant that it’s possible that some pranksters created these ornaments, and these were not some school children indoctrinated by a moronic teacher. It is almost Christmas after all, and ’tis the season for unreasoned optimism.

  6. I’m with you Paul. I’m going with the clever prank theory in the spirit of the season. And conservatives are pretty clever pranksters.

  7. Sure it was a bunch of old fogies hanging on to a discredited ideology, but it just struck me how odd it is that that sort of thing is somehow more acceptable.

    People say history is written by the winners, but with reference to the historiography of the Spanish Civil War, you can divine that history is written by the word merchants. There were precious few in the Anglosphere who were votaries of Adolph Hitler. Those indulgent of Soviet Russia, Red China, and Cuba were common if not legion.

    For a scholarly take, see here:

    For an amusing take on the phenomenon, see here:

    What do you think gets a character like Ellen Schrecker (see here: http://www.amazon.com/Many-Are-Crimes-Ellen-Schrecker/dp/0691048703/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261587499&sr=1-1) out of bed in the morning? She identifies with and admires the people she writes about.

  8. Owen Lattimore ended his days on the faculty of Johns Hopkins. Ellen Schrecker is on the faculty of Yeshiva University (and former editor of the trade journal of the American Association of University Professors).

  9. “People say history is written by the winners, but with reference to the historiography of the Spanish Civil War, you can divine that history is written by the word merchants. There were precious few in the Anglosphere who were votaries of Adolph Hitler. Those indulgent of Soviet Russia, Red China, and Cuba were common if not legion.”

    Quite right Art. Collecting histories of the Spanish Civil War is one of my hobbies. The area is dominated by historians of a Leftist bent, and often a far Leftist bent.

    Certain exceptions include the late Burnett Bolloten, a newsman during the Spanish Civil War, and who did yeoman’s work for decades in collecting and analyzing contemporary spanish accounts in newspapers and magazines printed during the war, particularly in the Republican zone. His Revolution and Counterrevolution stands as an unrivaled account of the infighting within the Republic. A man of the Left originally, by the time of his death he was denounced on the left as being an apologist for Franco, because he told some very unpalatable truths about the totalitarian forces at work within the Republic.


    Stanley Payne is as close as there is to being a truly objective historian of the war and the Franco regime.


    Spain Betrayed is a good examination of Soviet documents detailing the influence of the Soviet Union over the Republic. One of the editors, Professor Ronald Radosh, is a red diaper baby, and a former Communist, one of whose uncles died fighting for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. His journey to being a conservative began in 1983 after he was savaged by the Left for publishing a book on the Rosenbergs which reluctantly reached the conclusion that the Rosenbergs had been Soviet spies.


  10. Actor Orson Bean who was blacklisted in the McCarthy period and who now is a conservative, says it is tougher to be a conservative in Hollywood these days than it was to be a Communist in Hollywood during the blacklist era.

  11. Hugh Thomas’ 1961 history of the Spanish Civil War was permitted to be translated into Spanish and sold in Spain during Franco’s tenure. I own and have read that one, and don’t recall any leftist polemic. I haven’t managed to work my way through the 1975 edition, which is considerably longer, IIRC.

  12. I think one of the the reasons there is more outrage about Hitler than Stalin and Mao is that Hitler built death camps.

    Yes, Stalin and Mao had gulags, but you could theoretically get out of a gulag. Hitler had a network of camps built for the specific purpose of removing an entire people from the face of the Earth. That, I am fairly certain, remains a unique historical accomplishment.

    Then there’s the fact that the USSR was a US ally during it’s fight with Hitler, that the Red Army did the bulk of the fighting and dying against Hitler, and once Nixon went to China and shot the breeze with Mao it lent the latter some legitimacy.

    Also, it’s arguable – though certainly debatable – that the many millions who died under both tyrants died due to incompetence and not necessarily by design. Stalin’s political purges only (“only!”) killed about 1 million people. I don’t know how many Mao’s killed. But the vast numbers that are associated with their regimes – Stalin, 20 million, Mao, 60 million – are associated with famine. There seems to be good evidence that Stalin deliberately starved the Ukranians, but then, there is also evidence that the man he put in charge of agriculture was a complete moron. A combination of both? As for Mao, the “Great Leap Forward” was a great leap into the economic toilet. Again, incompetence, or deliberate mass murder? It is hard to know for certain.

    But with Hitler we do know. And so that kinda contributes.

    But I will say this – Mussolini the fascist, Franco and Salazar the military dictators and Catholic traditionalists, and what the heck, Tito the communist and opponent of Stalin in Yugoslavia, none of them were even 1/10th as bad as Stalin and Mao and they receive 100 times the vilification. It is because the leftist intelligentsia in this country, though clearly squeamish along the way, ultimately believed that the USSR, China, and Cuba were “progressive” regimes, and that what they did was either justified, rooted in a backwardness that technological development would fix, or both.

    So anything done in the name of progress, in the name of stamping out reaction and counterrevolution, is justified. To say anything bad about it is to display “bourgeois sentimentality.” Communists are materialists; your value is determined entirely and exclusively by what you add or subtract to the revolutionary cause.

  13. Dale, I’ve read both of Mr. Thomas’ original history and his updated version. Thomas did attempt to be even handed. His work is now somewhat dated, and it suffers from lack of many of the documents that have come to light, since, but certainly when it came out in 1961 it was the best and most even handed general history of the war.

  14. I think Joe, that both Stalin and Mao fully intended to amass the type of body counts they did. Both, especially Mao, viewed themselves as being at war with all segments of their society that were not slavishly loyal to them. The manufactured famine in the Ukraine, for instance had for Stalin the dual benefits of killing off the peasant proprietors, the Kulaks,( people who by our standards would be abysmally poor, but who were considered rich peasants, and therefore a class enemy.), and also punishing the Ukraine which he always regarded as completely disloyal to him.

  15. Don,

    Undoubtedly you are right about the personalties of the despots. I think there is a combination of incompetence and malice at work; the Great Leap Forward, I don’t think, was designed to kill tens of millions of people – but on the other hand, I don’t think Mao particularly cared whether or not they lived or died.

    It’s a minor point, really. In the end, I think it really boils down to Mao and Stalin not being racists like Hitler. And you know, whenever we hear about Hitler, we think of one thing only – six million Jews. Hitler also killed millions Christians, many of them because they were Christians.

    It’s in this ridiculous double standard that we see how much influence leftist academics and Hollywood executives have over public perception. Hitler is the ultimate evil – Stalin was a pretty bad guy. It’s not really in vogue right now to be cool with Stalin, but he isn’t as vilified as Hitler, the racist. Hitler might have only killed ten thousand, but if it was due to race, he would still be more hated than Stalin.

    Mao, on the other hand, is a little less known to the American people – a charismatic guerrilla leader. So it’s almost acceptable to be cool with Mao, to quote him in your address to high school students when to do the same with Hitler would mean the end of your career and social life, and with Stalin would raise a few eyebrows and questions.

  16. Communism (the dream, not the reality) is universalist, whereas Nazism is brutally exclusive. The Nazi world was divided into Aryans and subhumans, with some subhumans being worse than others. Obviously that limits Nazism’s appeal, since most people on the planet are not blond, blue-eyed Aryans. Communism certainly has had its own categories of subhumans (capitalists, aristocrats, kulaks), but because it is class-based and not racially based, people in many different countries could adopt the ideology of Communism. Ironically, leftists frequently complain of Western cultural imperialism, but what Western ideology has spread to the ends of the earth in the 20th century? One created by a secular German Jew who wrote with the slums of Victorian England, not the jungles of Southeast Asia or Latin America in mind.

    For many deluded people, particularly those who had lost their faith in God, the universalism and promise of a more just and fair world filled the hole left by their loss of faith. I can understand the appeal Communism must have had for people in 1910, or even 1935, when little was known in the West about what was actually happening in the USSR (thanks to Walter Duranty and other useful idiots). It is, of course, utterly ridiculous to continue to cling to those beliefs in 2009. In the West, logically Communism should have lost its’ appeal when Stalin and Hitler teamed up and showed that they were both interested in slavery, not freedom.

    And yet people still cling, and they minimize and make excuses for all the blood shed by Communists in the 20th century – because they still need to fill that God-sized hole. And admitting that it was all a terrible mistake, that all those millions died for nothing, that Communism is bound to fail no matter how many times it is tried, is simply unbearable to many people. They can’t bear that that God failed, because it’s the only God they have.

  17. “So we decided to do something just a little different. We took about 800 ornaments left over from previous administrations, we sent them to 60 local community groups throughout the country, and asked them to decorate them to pay tribute to a favorite local landmark and then send them back to us for display here at the White House.”

    No indication there that kids had anything to do with these ornaments, though it’s possible some ornaments fell into kids’ hands. My guess is the Mao ornament was created by hands far less innocent. Depending on which “community groups” were tapped, the only wonder is the whole tree wasn’t done up in old Soviet bloc dictators.

    I recall the Clinton White House having some of its Christmas trees come under similar scrutiny. What galls me is not so much that staff for both administrations failed to understand the inappropriateness of some of the submissions (which I’ve come to expect) as that the presumably friendly “artists” had so little respect for the presidency as to submit the garbage.

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