The Philosophy of Mao and Mother Teresa?

“[T]he 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 his 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 War 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 ‘60s 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. (Click here to watch.)

Specifically, Dunn’s comments were exposed by Glenn Beck on Fox. In response, liberals are attacking not Dunn but Beck. (See this article by CNN.) This is sadly predictable, as it has always been anti-communism (watch my lecture here) that upsets liberals.

It’s maddening to have watched the children of the ‘60s 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.

Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • Reilly

    “Of course, Anita Dunn obviously doesn’t support killing 60-70 million people.”

    Are you sure of this Dr. Kengor? I believe she has publicly supported abortion, and this is only a beginning. Her title is communication director – basically she is chief propagandist, and is as radical as her boss, if not more so.

  • Pingback: COACHEP » Blog Archive » Posts about Anita Dunn as of October 27, 2009()

  • Terri Kimmel

    I saw the Glen Beck clip of this story a couple of weeks ago. This synthesis is helpful. In my pro-life efforts, I agree about “waging my own war”. My general is still God Almighty, though. I’m glad to be able to contrast my philosophy with Anita Dunn’s. I had been a little troubled about it, to be honest. Things are crystal clear now. Thank you, Dr. Kengor.

  • Cheryl Dickow

    I guess from my understanding of Church teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion — and believeing that life begins at conception — then people who support abortion are, in effect, supporting the killing of millions of people. What are the current statistics?

    The last I heard them I felt physicall ill.

    When I drive down the interstate here in Michigan — or any of the major streets — and gaze at rows of empty buildings and vacated stores, it seems glaringly obvious that all the potential consumers and customers have all been aborted. This continues to happen because the people who are supporting such things as abortion have a moral compass that they’ve developed all on their very own and it points south, way, way way south.

  • krby34

    This is a great article and it becomes even more powerful when combined with another article CE released today by Sonja Corbitt in, ironically, the Today section called ‘Leviathan: The Influence of Satan in Our Accumulation of Debt’ the link is here:

    What powerful messages from each article alone but when one takes time to consider how intertwined these messages are to one and other you really develop a fear of the Lord that is healthy and wise!

    Pray Lord Jesus that you take our message to your Father in Heaven. Let our voices join with yours and may our hearts and lives join with the Holy Spirit to recognize all messages that contradict live and therefore contradict You who are all Truth, Life, and Love. AMEN


  • Christi Derr

    Dr. Kengor –

    I am so grateful for your articles China! I am woefully ignorant of Chinese history. I SO appreciate how informative and readable your articles are!

    btw – Didn’t they just discover a letter from Mao Tse Tung to Kissinger in which the Chinese dictator offered “women China has too many of and no use for” to the US in exchange for a desired good from the US?