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Hanging Mao on the Tree?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

I’ll begin this article with a few justifications to try to preempt irate emails from Obama supporters: First off, I write on faith, politics, and the presidency, having done books on the subject and lots of articles; this includes the faith of President Obama. Second, I’ve been recently writing on Mao’s China; specifically, on modern Americans’ dreadful ignorance of the horrors that happened there. Third, I most recently wrote on the exclusive attempts by liberals to be “inclusive” at Christmas time. Finally, I’ve waited until well after Christmas to do this article, not out of seasonal charity but because I couldn’t bear to keep silent anymore. With that, here it goes:

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This past Christmas was one of the strangest in the long history of the White House—America’s first house. A December 6 article in the New York Times noted that within the Obama White House “there had been internal discussions about making Christmas more inclusive and whether to display the crèche.” Here again, liberals’ definition of inclusiveness means exclusion—exclusion, that is, of the central/Christian reason for the season.

Well, Americans voted for change in the White House. And this would indeed break new ground, as no White House before—Democrat or Republican—deliberated the appropriateness of displaying a Nativity scene at Christmas.

This follows a profile in People magazine last year in which Barack Obama said that he and his wife do not give their children Christmas gifts. Of course, that’s their prerogative. It is, however, unusual, certainly compared to previous White House Christmases.

But while gifts for children may not have been on display at the White House this year, and the display of a crèche was likewise in question, something peculiar was on display—a most curious image. Hung on the historic White House Christmas tree this year was a rather novel ornament: a glistening, glimmering Mao Tse-Tung.

How’s that for inclusion? Baby Jesus—maybe, maybe not? Chairman Mao, yes!

I know this is unbelievable. (Click here for photos.) But, hey, this time of year is filled with the seemingly inconceivable. And most unlike the Incarnation, this manifestation does not inspire hope. When I first heard about it from Sandy, one of our good friends and faithful e-mailers at The Center for Vision & Values, I was dumbfounded.

Lo and behold, it is true. The bad boys at the Fox News Channel and various conservative bloggers apparently noticed the twinkling little chairman behind Barack and Michelle Obama in a warm and fuzzy photo in front of the White House Christmas tree. (Or, as we native Pittsburghers are expected to call it, “The Unity Tree.”) For this, Fox received the righteous indignation of the liberal faithful for having the audacity to file this report: another sin of anti-communism.

What of this? We’ve heard of presents under the tree, lights around the tree, and, as one anachronistic Christmas carol puts it, even candles on the tree. But Mao Tse-Tung on the tree? The Chinese communist dictator who was responsible for the deaths of 60-70 million people?

Needless to say, Mao is not traditionally associated with Christmas, just as he is not typically associated with, say, Mother Teresa—except in the mind of President Obama’s former communications director Anita Dunn, who cites Mao and Mother Teresa as her two favorite philosophers. To the contrary, Mao brutally persecuted those who recognized Christmas. One of the first things he did when taking over China in October 1949—a moment recently commemorated by oblivious New Yorkers—was boot out the Western missionaries. Shortly thereafter, the blood began to flow, befitting the usual pattern: France, 1789; Russia, 1917; Cambodia, 1975. Mao’s subsequent annihilation made him worthy not of Christmas ornamentation but the trophy of worst mass murderer in all of history. Yes, a puzzling choice for Christmas veneration.

In fact, the one figure who would have been most shocked by this confusing cameo at the Obama White House is Chairman Mao. Mao hated Christians, their blasted trees, their Christmas, and their Christ. And if Obama supporters are angry at me for daring to call attention to this borderline blasphemy—shoot the messenger, as they did with Glenn Beck for exposing Anita Dunn’s invocation of Mao—they should consider themselves lucky: If they had committed this malfeasance in China during Mao’s reign, the Dear Leader would have executed them for counter-revolutionary activity.

The White House explanation has been so unclear as to be basically a non-response, other than to suggest that the Mao adornment was not hung by Barack Obama. The mysterious malefactor apparently ranges from some anonymous “local community group” to some zealous student or “school.” Sure, happens all the time.

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