June 21, 2003


Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam are two of Australia’s most respected political elders, as Michael Duffy points out:

Let us revisit Parliament House on September 14, 1976. The occasion was the death of Mao Zedung, the greatest tyrant and mass-murderer in history. Then prime minister Malcolm Fraser disgraced Australia by moving a motion that Parliament "records its sincere regret at the death of Chairman Mao Tse-tung, expresses to the people of China profound regret and tenders its deep sympathy to his family in its bereavement".

Gough Whitlam told the House of his admiration for the psychopathic Chinese leader, whom he had met.

"No one who visited his country could be in any doubt of the veneration in which he was held by the people. It was an affection which grew rather than diminished with time," he announced.

Whitlam went on to pay tribute to Mao's "courage, his sagacity, his gifts as a writer and interpreter of Chinese philosophy and civilisation".

Naturally, both Fraser and Whitlam opposed war in Iraq.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 21, 2003 05:37 PM

sorry Tim. I cannot see the connection myself.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at June 21, 2003 at 05:57 PM

They all like to run around hotel hallways in their underwear?

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 21, 2003 at 06:22 PM

Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi both publicly praised Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s. That explains . . . . never mind.

Posted by: Mork at June 21, 2003 at 07:10 PM

G'Day Mork,

Re your analogy - the 1930s was BEFORE most people were aware that Hitler was a creature of evil - the 1970s was AFTER everyone was aware that Mao was responsible for the deaths of millions and the destruction of masses of Chinese cultural history. Your point therefore is....

Posted by: Russell at June 21, 2003 at 07:30 PM

Russell - I think you underestimate public awareness of Hitler in the late 1930s, and overestimate it about Mao in the mid 1970s.

Think about Nixon meeting Mao in 1972, for example. I doubt he could have done that if the American public widely believed Mao to be responsible for millions of deaths.

I've not looked at this closely, but I would be surprised if the current consensus view among western historians about Mao's crimes emerged much before the early 1980s - don't forget that China was a completely closed society before Deng Xiaopeng.

But the real point is just that's it's silly to read too much into statements like these. We don't even have any way of knowing whether these statements represented their own views or the views they felt compelled to state for political purposes (for example, Australia was probably trying to sell wheat, iron ore and coal to China at the time).

Posted by: Mork at June 21, 2003 at 07:46 PM

BTW, Russell, I thought I remembered this and I just checked: Nixon (by now ex-President) visited Mao in Beijing in 1976, just before Mao's death.

So there you go: add another ghoul to the list!

Posted by: Mork at June 21, 2003 at 07:54 PM

G'Day Mork,

As to the consensus view on Hilter, my wife's Grandparents were members of the Austrian Nazi party (my mother-in-law was a member of Hilter Youth). She, at least, still regrets that his wonderful program was wrecked by being taken "too far". I've seen a lot of original documents from the period and I'm pretty familiar with how Hitler was thought of in Europe and England around the time of the thirties.

As to the consensus view on Mao, I was conscious and politically aware in the seventies. I was only a teenager but I knew about the "Cultural Revolution" and I was aware of the various enforced famines of the 50s and 60s - I was taught about them in high-school political science class. Are you suggesting that the Australian Prime Minister and leader of the opposition could have reasonably maintained ignorance of facts that were reported widely in the media and school text books at the time (my father was vaguely leftish and argued with me at the time that it was all American propaganda to discredit a great man - but even as a teenager I knew he was full of sh*t).

Your final point is valid - the reason for the statements in the House may have been unrelated to anyone's position on Mao's real worth - but that still does not validate your original point (1930s Hitler=1970s Mao)

Posted by: Russell at June 21, 2003 at 08:11 PM

G'Day Mork,

Nixon resigned as US President in 1974 - Watergate and all that - there was a big fuss at the time - perhaps you remember it. As to adding another ghoul to the list - it would not be surprising for Nixon to visit one of the few places he was still thought of as a "great man" even if it meant pretending that another monster was a "great man". Has anyone ever argued that Nixon was some sort of secular saint.

Posted by: Russell at June 21, 2003 at 08:17 PM

OK - I was barely alive at the time, so I'll take your word on what the state of knowledge was.

But there's one other factor we're both forgettting - the cold war and the efforts of the U.S to play China off against the USSR . . . that might explain why both Nixon and a staunch anti-communist and cold war warrior like Fraser were prepared to downplay whatever they knew about Mao's crimes in order for the alliance to take hold.

Posted by: Mork at June 21, 2003 at 08:21 PM


Churchill was the first public figure who warned of the terrible dangers of Hitler right from when he became Chancellor of Germany in 1933. He was pilloried by the political establishment for warning of Germany's massive rearmamament, and persecution of the jews. He NEVER publicly praised Hitler after that point, I would be extremely surprised if you can find evidence that he praised him before.

As for Mao, people knew about the horrors of the cultural revolution they were well documented and advertised at the time! Of course the cultural revolution was a tea party compared with what went before. Mao's 'Great Leap Forward' of forced collectivisation resulted in the starvation to death of 20 - 40 million people. I believe this is the largest state sponsored mass starvation in history. In deed the Cutural Revolution was launched by Mao partly as a way of distracting his critics in the Communist Party.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Posted by: Matthew Robinson at June 21, 2003 at 09:51 PM


Your comments on the realpolitik of Nixon and Fraser are spot on. There was a view that if you could hold your nose and recognise China, you could drive a wedge between them and the greater threat - the Soviets. As it turned out they were right. People at the top of the Communist Party and China understood that Mao had been a total disaster, and overtures by the Americans probably helped give Deng and the reformers the upperhand to take over in the late '70s.

However Whitlam's fawning comments following the death of Mao were unnecessary and pretty revolting. He must have been aware of the evil that Mao had done.

It is particularly odd that some one who can be so self righteous when it suits him is prepared to overlook mass murder.

Posted by: Matthew Robinson at June 21, 2003 at 10:03 PM

Don't be too hard on Mork for his historical confusion, guys. He's a little dazed by the realization of his love for me.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 22, 2003 at 12:57 AM

I notice no one except for my other half ZsaZsa has helped out GST.

The connection is, Gary, that they were both willing to overlook Mao's atrocities just as they have overlooked Saddam's atrocities, albeit with a sit-on-the fence "Only with the UN" disclaimer.

Their self-righteousness makes me squirm.

Whitlam was the worst PM Australia ever had and due to his opportunistic populism he is held up as some sort of demi-god. That's the way we were taught about him at school and it still makes me puke.

Posted by: Gabor at June 22, 2003 at 01:00 AM

I'll bet that Whitlam, if asked today, would still say that China benefitted greatly from Mao's rule.

Nixon went to China in an attempt to draw China more toward the mainstream of international relations. A more involved China would be distanced from the USSR.

Personally, I think Nixon wanted to be a great statesman and realised that he was the man for the moment. A Democrat could not have gone to China but a Republican elder statesman could and did.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 22, 2003 at 01:03 AM


I was not agreeing with GST. Rather, I was attempting to poke fun at him for not seeing the obvious connections. Obviously, humour is not my forte.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 22, 2003 at 01:06 AM

Yes I know, ZsaZsa. What I was saying was that everyone else ignored GST except you. I didn't mean you agreed with him. Your humour was crystal clear. Obviously my clarity needs some work.

Posted by: Gabor at June 22, 2003 at 01:10 AM

Ah, now I see. Thanks.

Which Gabor are you, Magda or Eva?

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 22, 2003 at 01:25 AM

And here's a letter from Friday's SMH letters page praising Saddam-occupied Iraq:

"So now the United States has launched Operation Desert Scorpion and already has rounded up more than 400 civilians. To an Iraqi this must sound eerily like life under Saddam.

Of course, that's where comparisons with the bad old days end.

In those days, Iraqis had access to medical treatment if they were ill, they had power for 24 hours a day, they had water they could drink, their garbage was collected, they could go about their business in relative safety and they didn't have to trudge through raw sewage in their streets.

So much for liberation.

J. Gilhooly, Ulladulla, June 19."

Sheesh. I'm surprised (s)he didn't mention that the trains ran on time when Saddam was in power.

Posted by: Andjam at June 22, 2003 at 02:04 AM

Gotta second the call for evidence that Churchill ever praised Hitler. I've been reading his History of WWII, and Churchill doesn't appear to shy away from mentioning his own screw ups; there's NO mention of him ever praising Hitler.

Hell, this is the fellow who said he'd find nice things to say about the Devil if it helped defeat Hitler.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at June 22, 2003 at 03:30 AM

Andjam, does the writer note where the evidence of "medical treatment if they were ill (pardon me? thousands (!) of babies dead because the govt withheld medicine from hospitals?), they had power for 24 hours a day (even NGOs admit that the power was erratic at best, and even Baghdad didn't always have power), they had water they could drink (well, duh, you can drink ditch water if you want, but the UfingN said there were water shortages) ....." is? This is a more than usual visit from the Wizard of Oz, I think.

Posted by: Prof Dave at June 22, 2003 at 05:09 AM

Why does the media give any coverage to these Alzheimers addled arseholes? We voted both of these pricks out of office- we don't care what they think.

Posted by: paul bickford at June 22, 2003 at 12:13 PM

A quick note on Whitlam & Fraser; they where both keen supporters of Robert Mugabe in the 1970's. Mugabe himself was trained in revolutionary warfare by the Chinese, and was a disciple of Mao.

Fraser even played a significant role in the deposal of Rhodesia's last democratically elected PM, Abel Musorewa, in 1979 at the Lancaster House conference. He helped frame the agreement that saw Mugabe 'elected' in 1980 in the midst of massive intimidation and electoral irregularities.

Posted by: Wilbur at June 22, 2003 at 12:57 PM

I'm ZsaZsa, ZsaZsa.

And yes, Robert, I don't believe Churchill ever praised Hitler either. This was the very reason he spent 10 years on the backbench in the 1930s.

Posted by: Gabor at June 22, 2003 at 02:08 PM

And then there's this, about a military dictator who nearly dragged his country and India into a nuclear war:

"May I pay tribute to the stoic, determined and courageous fight of Pakistan and its leader General Musharraf against international terrorism? I do not think there is a world leader who has put more on the line ... than General Musharraf. I regard his personal courage and leadership on this issue as having been quite outstanding."
John Howard, March this year.

Posted by: Rick Squane at June 22, 2003 at 09:11 PM

And I voted for that ghoul.

Posted by: Rick Squane at June 22, 2003 at 09:12 PM


Please show a little perspective. General Musharraf may not be a paragon of liberal democratic virtue, but you can't put him in the same boat as Mao. He is not responsible for the forced starvation of tens of millions of people. He has not systematically tortured hundreds of thousands of people for disagreeing with him.

If we were to refused to do business with every non-democratic country in the world then we pretty stuffed. Would you rather Muslim fundamentalists who are determinedly less liberal and less democratic take over in Pakistan?

Posted by: Matthew Robinson at June 22, 2003 at 09:43 PM

In Manchester's "The Caged Lion" Chruchill is quoted (undated but 1932 or earlier) as saying about Hitler: "I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat, even though I am on the other side." Hitler, he added, "had a perfect right to be a patriotic German if he chose."

Churchill quickly became aware that Hitler was Stalin-lite and would not have praised him in the late 1930s. No way.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 22, 2003 at 09:58 PM

Zsa Zsa,

That is interesting. I am certain that Churchill had nothing good to say about him after 1933. Of course there was a feeling that Germany had been hard done by at the treaty of Versailles with excessive war reparations (mostly pushed by the French). This is what Hitler played on...indeed it was his one rational argument. This was acknowldged by many in Britain.

Posted by: Matthew Robinson at June 22, 2003 at 10:42 PM

Did Whitlam's family make a business in raising cash for the Nazi party?

Moral equivelance will get you nowhere.

Posted by: Tommy at June 22, 2003 at 11:47 PM

No, he just used the most flowery and effusive language to eulogise one of the twentieth century's most horrifc totalitarian leaders and mass murderers. There is no way that he did not know about a large section of Mao's crimes at the time.

But you are right, he didn't raise money for the Nazis, so that's ok.

Posted by: Matthew Robinson at June 23, 2003 at 06:27 AM

Obviously, Andrea Harris (see above) would not be linking to a comment of mine on her site that I actually wrote: that would be embarrassing for her.

Instead, she replaced a comment that I left with one of her own and left it under my handle.

I guess it's a little ironic that my original comment was critical of her childishness - although I dare say that she did not have that in mind when she went to work.

Either way, it's as weak as piss.

Posted by: Mork at June 23, 2003 at 10:16 AM

Hey, even if you think Mao was a shit, there's no need to insert it into his name:

"The occasion was the death of Mao Zedung,..."

That would be like saying Shitlam for Whitlam...

Posted by: Preston Whip at June 23, 2003 at 11:39 AM

Mork, it is your comments which are weak as piss.

Greenies , mimicked by ABC, assert scinece is conducted on a basis of consensual concurrence between sicnentists. No it is not, scinece is driven by the evidence and what is accepted theory is hard sound formualae of that which evidence demonstrates.

History is vulnberabe to abuse becuase the language of history is not demotic. But solid, hard, theory forming history is advanced in the same way and on the same basis as science.

There are those who wish to write fantasise about the past,or write falsehoods about the past,and both usually occur together, like the mythologising of Australian history by some historians. And there is `consensus' among such historians, allowing for quibbling over mere details. But that `consensus' no more makes that falsification of history sound established history than the psuedo-science of greenies is established science.

Whatever has happened to history since the mid-80's is definitely a sorry tale, the mythologisers have won out. Until then, schoalrs in schools and undergraduates, could not freely play around, it was flawed to reject establ;ished sound findings. Consensus had nothing to do with it, evidence, sound assessment and testing of evidence, and the derivation of robust elegant theories is the criterion of good history , not myth-making ( which otherwise goes under the euphemism of `historiography' - one doubts whther the average undergraduate, certainly now, has aclue as to the platonist-cartesian dualistic foundations of historiography' better translated by the false epistemoligical false priniciple of hermenuetics- eisegesis one might say, not exegesis), and not consensus. Solid theories are founded by individuals not a gaggle ruling by decree of some invisible committee.

Which takes us to the subject of China, Mao's and the Chinese communist party's crimes against the Chinese were well understood and backed by evidence decades before the 1980's.

Fraser, as much as Whitlam, is full of communard bullshit.Fraser one regards as a `conservative ' socialist. His judgement was complementary, appalingly bad, including on that other killer, Mugabe.

Posted by: d at June 23, 2003 at 11:45 AM

d, I'm afraid I don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Did you disagree with something I wrote?

Posted by: Mork at June 23, 2003 at 11:52 AM

Up here in Queensland we settle our disputes with fisticuffs. It's just the way it is. Hell I'd even hand out my phone number if I thought you wussies was up to it. Now, what did I come onlinen for...?

Posted by: Graham Howlett at June 23, 2003 at 05:19 PM

Interesting: Mr. Graham Howlett, IP address, might be interested to know that "Mork" at IP address has sent me two emails using his name.

And yes, Mork, any comment you send me will be altered to flatter me. Any email you send me will be published altered to flatter me. Don't like it? Too bad. That's what you get for being a d***head.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 23, 2003 at 05:40 PM

No problem, Andrea. I guess there's not much flattery in your life, is there, apart from that which you send yourself.

I'm pleased to help out. Moreover, if I'd known that you were such a sensitive little soul, I would have ignored your insults in the first place.

Posted by: Mork at June 23, 2003 at 05:55 PM

BTW, Andrea, you don't think possibly that someone not named "Graham Howlett" might have visited your site, seen your attempt to "out" me (thinking that was my name) and thought it might be funny to post here under that name (which it was)?

So there we go, two posters, one very confused Andrea Harris, and zero people named "Graham Howlett".

Posted by: Mork at June 23, 2003 at 06:05 PM

"Andrea, you don't think possibly that someone not named 'Graham Howlett' might have visited your site, seen your attempt to out' me..." etc., blah blah.

I find it difficult, myself, to follow what passes for thought processes in the brainpans of 'tards, so who can say? Well, I guess you can.

Anyway, thanks for playing! Big kiss, mwah.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 23, 2003 at 06:28 PM

Gee, Andrea, I was told that you had NO capacity to respond to facts and learn new things, but it seems that you just have. You're not slow, just slow . . . ish!

I hope that adjusting to a world in which multiple people might call themselves "Graham Howlett" on the internet, but not actually be that person, has not caused any long-term damage.

I feared that it might spark off a recurrence of your Tourette's syndrome, but we seem to have gotten through that with only the mildest of playground insults, not even so much as another "I know you are, but what am I".

By the way, are you going to post my last email on your website? I even spell-checked it in anticipation of it being displayed to both your readers.

Posted by: Mork at June 23, 2003 at 06:43 PM

The sexual tension between you two is hot enough to boil an egg.

Posted by: Gabor at June 23, 2003 at 09:34 PM


You seem to have some issues. What's the matter, Mindy say no?

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 24, 2003 at 02:04 AM