How many tens of millions of people does a communist dictator have to murder before his groupies abandon him? Apparently a lot. At least for Joan Hinton tens of millions of dead weren’t enough for her to lose her affection for Mao Zedong, one of history’s great mass murderers.
Reports an obituary for the Washington Post yesterday:
Joan Hinton, a onetime prep school student and ski instructor who worked on the Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb during World War II, then moved to China and spent the rest of her life as a devoted follower of Mao Zedong, died June 8 at a hospital in Beijing. Her son said she had an abdominal aneurysm. She was 88.
In 1948, Ms. Hinton took the dramatic step of following her brother to China just as the country was in the throes of the Communist revolution led by Mao. Ms. Hinton, who witnessed the first atomic bomb explosion in 1945, was upset when nuclear energy was used to annihilate much of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the waning days of World War II. She renounced the violent use of atomic energy and moved to China, where she thought an ideal socialist state would emerge based on Mao’s teachings.
Nonetheless, Ms. Hinton remained an ardent supporter of Mao, the Chinese Communist leader who controlled the country from 1949 until he died in 1976. Even after Mao’s Cultural Revolution reshaped Chinese society by force, leaving tens of millions of people dead in ideological purges, Ms. Hinton’s loyalty was undiminished.
“I was 100 percent behind everything that happened in the Cultural Revolution,” she said in 2008, long after most Chinese people had abandoned Maoist beliefs. “He was a terrific person, and he liberated all the people — he was not a monster at all.”
Too bad. As a Westerner, she could easily have been targeted in the Cultural Revolution. She might have had a different opinion if she had encountered its “business end,” so to speak.
Normally I would say “rest in peace.” But if tens of millions of deaths couldn’t shake her faith in Communism, then she needs a little helpful “reeducation,” wherever she has ended up.