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Chairman Mao's Spirit Comes to Dallas

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/LM Otero

I think I understand now how the Chinese felt under the reign of Chairman Mao. I actually watched a nice lady from Dallas last week be prosecuted for giving haircuts.  Shelley Luther, who was trying to earn a living for her children by doing an honest day’s work at her business, Salon a la Mode, was arrested and prosecuted for that villainous act. Sitting in the courtroom of Dallas County District Judge Eric Moye, she was asked by counsel why she defied economic lockdown diktats issued by the government by opening her business. She replied, “Because I had no other choice. Because I couldn’t feed my family.”


What a heart-rending response. Like something out of Dickens. Judge Moye wasn’t moved by Ms. Luther’s pathos. In a courtroom diatribe, the smug, sanctimonious judge with job security (unless Dallas voters wisely turn him out of office in the next election) lectured Ms. Luther: “Your actions were selfish. Putting your own interests ahead of those of the community in which you live… [T]hey disrespected the executive orders of the state, the orders of the county and this city.”

I think we should all be nervous when an American jurist excoriates an American citizen for “disrespecting the executive orders of the state.” Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, surely used similar language when addressing fellow Germans in the 1930s.

And “selfish?" By working to provide for her family, her employees and her community, and risking prosecution for defying a temporary restraining order preventing her from opening her shop, Ms. Luther was anything but selfish.

But it got worse. We should sit up and take notice whenever a judge does the following: He told Luther that he would consider levying a fine against her instead of sending her to prison if she would apologize and not reopen her shop until the government deemed that heretical act permissible. Ms. Luther bravely refused to apologize and was sent to jail.


Forcing an act of contrition out of a defendant for defying “executive orders” (not laws) under threat of jail time is, or should be, a breathtaking turn of events in America. Rather than simply ruling that she had been in violation of those “executive orders,” issuing her a fine of a certain amount for every day that she was in “defiance,” and moving along, this poor excuse for a judge – and poor excuse for an American citizen – sought to compel this woman to utter words indicating obeisance to the state. Such a repellant action, particularly as a consequence of defying constitutionally and scientifically dubious orders of “The State,” is antithetical to what the Founders of our great Republic envisioned when they established a Constitution of, by and for the people. 

As I heard the chilling words of the judge demanding an apology from this courageous woman, the Cultural Revolution in China came to mind.

The Cultural Revolution occurred in the 1960s under the leadership of Mao Zedong, head of the Chinese Communist Party, and a psychopath if there ever was one. 

In an effort to “purify itself of saboteurs and apostates,” in the words of the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos, Mao’s regime enacted paroxysmal savagery on the population of China, executing or driving to suicide 1.5 million of its own citizens. Two hundred million people were brought to the point of chronic malnutrition by the devastating impact Mao and the Chinese Communist Party’s policies had on that nation’s economy. Twenty million people were uprooted from cities and sent to the countryside to till the soil and an estimated 36 million were persecuted. 


The horrors of that period of Chinese history cannot be understated, or easily grasped, with Mao mobilizing the youth of the country – his Red Guard – to unleash horrific cruelty. Many in the Communist Party itself were targeted. The toll on China’s intellectual class and the “bourgeoisie” was perhaps the most brutal. Teachers, doctors, landlords and others deemed by Mao to be deplorables and threats to his reign were dragged before their neighbors to be humiliated, beaten and executed. Friends, children and spouses of the condemned were encouraged to take part in their persecution, or risk facing their own demise. 

And here’s the reason I bring this up: A hallmark of this horrific treatment of those Chinese whom the government designated for destruction was forced apologies from the victims. Apologies from a coercive state fond of issuing “executive orders.” 

I am not of course equating America in 2020 to China in the throes of the 1960s Cultural Revolution. However, we should be concerned by indicators large and small that the United State, as sophisticated and democratic as it likes to think it is, could end up in the same place. Small indicators like a judge coercing an apology from an American citizen for trying to feed her family or otherwise risk jail time. And large indicators, like much of America’s population effectively under house arrest and much of its economy locked down on the rationale that it can thereby mitigate a virus that is already “in the wild,” apparently having already infected, without their being aware, a huge percentage of the population. 


The insanity must stop. When we see YouTube removing videos featuring highly credible, knowledgeable doctors and scientists – like Daniel Erickson, Artin Massihi, and Scott Atlas – because they happen to hold opinions that differ from the government’s received wisdom, we should, again, sit up and take notice. These are not the actions that should occur in a free, robust democratic Republic founded on the principle that ideas should be debated passionately and without fear of censorship. Such things occur in tyrannies. 

While history is replete with brutality by many nations, a Chinese parallel seems particularly apt, since China gifted the world with the current pandemic.  And I little doubt that Chairman Mao would smile upon Americans with authoritarian impulses, like Judge Moye, the overlords at YouTube, and Democratic governors across the land who insist on continuing enforced self-isolation for their citizens and destroying their economy in the process.

William F. Marshall has been an intelligence analyst and investigator in the government, private, and non-profit sectors for more than 30 years. He is a senior investigator for Judicial Watch, Inc., and a contributor to Townhall, American Thinker, and The Federalist. (The views expressed are the author’s alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.)


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