NY Times tweet praises Mao Zedong … quickly deleted

The New York Times came under fire for posting and then deleting a tweet commemorating the former Chinese leader Mao Zedong as “one of history’s great revolutionary figures.”

The Times’ archive account marked Monday as the anniversary of the death of the People’s Republic of China founder, who died on Sept. 9, 1976, by posting an image of the newspaper’s obituary published at the time.

(File photo: screenshot)

“Mao Zedong died on this day in 1976: The Times said he ‘began as an obscure peasant’ and ‘died one of history’s great revolutionary figures,'” the tweet read.

But a short time later, the New York Times’ Archives account deleted the tweet and explained simply that it was because it “lacked critical historical context.”

That “historical context,” as many Twitter users quickly pointed out, was definitely a “critical” omission.

“After establishing the Chinese People’s republic, Mao launched a series of sweeping, sometimes convulsive campaigns to transform a semi-feudal, largely illiterate and predominantly agricultural country encompassing almost four million square miles into a modern, industrialized socialist state,” the original obituary from 1976 read.

The People’s Republic of China was founded by the Chinese communist revolutionary in 1949 and continued under his rule until his death in 1976. Born into a peasant family, Mao eventually became a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Under his rule came repression and an eventual destruction of much of the country’s cultural heritage as his “Cultural Revolution” launched in 1966 led to the death of millions.

Before his death, he met with U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1972.

(Image: Wikipedia)

He is described as “one of the greatest mass murderers in history, responsible for the deaths of at least 45 million people between 1958 and 1962,” by author Frank Dikötter writing for History Today in 2016.

“It is not merely the extent of the catastrophe that dwarfs earlier estimates, but also the manner in which many people died: between two and three million victims were tortured to death or summarily killed, often for the slightest infraction,” he wrote.

Deaths in China under Chairman Mao are estimated to be at least 45 million people, surpassing even the number of those killed under Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, where about 20 million people died, and the 11 million who were killed in the Holocaust under Adolf Hitler.

The tweet — and correction — by the New York Times’ Archives Twitter account was marked as a special day in history as well.

And the collective face-palm on Twitter continued.


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