Ho, ho, ho. For unto us a child is — etc., etc. Now, can I lodge a complaint?

I was cleaning up some of the wreckage of today’s two-boys-with-lotsa-pirate-castle-cooking-gaming-stuff extravaganza and putting away the loot when I came across a beautiful book the Little Conqueror and the Little General got last Christmas. It’s called the World History Encyclopedia, published by Dempsey Parr in 1998. We’ve looked at it a lot together, as the illustrations are good but quite accessible for kids and the colorful maps and sidebars really do a good job of making history come alive.

The problem is that the contents aren’t all classifiable as history. As the story approaches modern day, the propaganda starts to leak into the narrative. The most outrageous pasage involves Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” surely one of the most grotesque and tragic events not only in Chinese history but in world history. The section begins this way:

When Mao Zedong came to power in 1949, many Chinese could not read or write. Many also suffered from ill health and hunger. To try and make life better for everyone, the new government improved health care and provided schools in which adults as well as children could be taught. For the first time, women were given equal rights with men.

Might as well have a drawing of a Socialist New Man standing nearby. What nonsense. “Equal rights with men”? Sure, everyone’s equal when they are all enslaved. It gets worse, however:

But the problem of providing food for everyone remained. In 1958, Mao introduced the Great Leap Forward, to try and make each village self-sufficient, not only by growing its own food, but also by producing its own clothing and tools in small factories belonging to the whole village. The plan failed because the government did not invest enough money in it, while bad weather led to poor harvests and even greater food shortages. Many people died of starvation and in 1959 Mao Zedong decided to retire.

Every time I read this passage, I start sputtering with rage. The pages are moist with expectorate. Just imagine what kids might take away from this agitprop if they never heard from another source.

Yep, that’s the problem with tyrannical, maniacal, deadly statism. Governments just don’t spend enough money on their idiotic, collectivist schemes. Still some good news, though; of the millions who died in Mao’s ghastly famine, women not doubt made up their fair share at last. Twas a Great Leap Forward.