Monday, May 14, 2007

Mao's burning up

Is nothing sacred in China any longer? Police in Beijing have arrested a man accused of setting fire to the enormous of portrait of the late Mao Zedong hanging in the Forbidden City.

Even though China has officially distanced itself somewhat from Mao (who has the highest body count of any single dictator in history), the "Great Helmsman" is still held in an official position of reverence, and the very idea that someone would try to burn the portrait is still considered fairly scandalous. In 1989, three men who were convicted of defacing the same portrait by throwing red paint on it served over 10 years of hard labor in prison. Can you imagine what fate awaits the would be arsonist? Just imagine what would happen if he were actually still alive!

More to the point, is Mao becoming increasingly irrelevant in the world's fastest growing capitalist economy? Does anyone besides rich American college students looking to piss off daddy or Nepalese rebels still hanker for Mao Zedong thought now that the Chinese themselves have moved on?

UPDATE: Mao Zedong is one of six dictators awaiting your vote for profiling on the Top 10 list. Don't delay, vote today, or the secret police will haul you away.

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