It’s not often that I have the opportunity to comment on the goings-on of NC State, our friendly, down-the-road school of engineering and pig farming. But it seems that the Mao Infatuation Virus has spread to Raleigh. In an email sent to students in NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS), the dean of the college writes,
Finally, a bit of advice. The friends you make in college will be your friends for life, and will influence what you do and how you think throughout your lifetime-so choose wisely. Some of the best friends I made as a student were Plato, Henry David Thoreau, Mao Tse-tung, Margaret Mead, and Maya Angelou. My colleagues are eager to make similar introductions for you!
Let’s just briefly recount some of the Great Mao Zedong’s accomplishments:
1. Caused approximately 40 million people to starve to death during the Great Leap Forward
2. Instigated a reign of terror and chaos in the course of the Cultural Revolution
3. Killed millions more during his purges of the 1950’s
And let’s not forget his warm and friendly relationship with that other great thinker of the twentieth century, Joesph Stalin.
So, while the dean and his colleagues may be content to make friends with such Hitlerian dictators, those of us living in what I like to call Reality take a slightly different view. We recognize people such as Mao for the monsters that they are. We recognize that such people are not worthy of emulation and certainly not worthy of friendship (intellectual or otherwise – not that Mao is particularly worth reading). And we recognize that academics who admire people such as Mao are out of touch with reality.
Aside from all the mass killings and whatnot, if society were really to adopt (or befriend) Mao’s philosophy, people such as the Dean of CHASS would quickly become irrelevant (given Mao’s antagonism towards education). Therein lies the irony.