SOME YEARS AGO, participating in a symposium, Professor Arthur Schlesinger Jr. suggested that a lack of concern for Southeast Asian Freedom (in those days he supported our venture in Vietnam) betrays truly the innate racism of many Americans. There is no reason to suppose, he said, that Communism is obnoxious only to white people. It is true that yellow people, particularly if ruled by Communists, acquire a strange immunity to Western criticism. Oh, you can find those who cry out, but the fact of it is that they are very lonely. Shortly before he died, General Franco executed five terrorists, each one of them guilty of murder, and only after a delibrate trial at which they were represented by counsel. You’d have thought masked men had formed a posse to execute Princess Di, John-John, and Little Orphan Annie. Even the Pope got into the act, and Mexico’s ambassador to the UN suggested that for so heinous a crime, Spain should be thrown out of the UN.
Consider the difference now where Red China is concerned. Hugh Davies, the Peking correspondent of London’s Daily Telegraph, advises us that since August, not five people have been executed in China, but “more than five thousand.” The means of effecting these executions are not without interest. For instance, two weeks ago a dozen defendants accused to rape, murder, and theft were made to paradise in Peking’s stadium, where they underwent summary trial. The crowd, presumably well trained by routine practices during the Cultural revolution, hissed as each defendant was held by two security offices “and pushed forward with a placard around his neck detailing his offenses.” The judges too were well trained: Guilty, and condemned.
It there is an appeals process in China it is presumably conducted by ambulatory appeals courts and deliberated between the stadium where the defendants were found guilty and the field outside the city to which they were thereupon driven to be shot. Mr. Davies did not witness the execution, but he lingered over the photographs of it that were posted on public notice boards. “One showed a line of men on their knees facing away from their executioners, a group of burly-looking security guards. Each guard held a pistol to the back of his victim’s neck. At intervals behind the execution party, soldiers stood with legs apart and rifles raised, as if to offer cover in case of trouble. The next picture showed the executioners standing to attention before 12 corpses.”
Now, strictly speaking, what goes on inside China is an Internal affair. But so is it an internal affair what goes on (or, if you prefer, went on) inside Spain. Or Costa Rica. You will say, Ah, but in Costa Rica we are heavily involved. To which the appropriate answer is, Yes: we are heavily involved in trying to prevent the kind of callousness toward human life that is characteristics of every Communist regime. The Communists do not monopolize crime; indeed the title for free-enterprise crime appears to be as sedentarily American as the America’s Cup was for so many years.
And here you begin, I think, to get an idea of the Communist perspective. What does it matter, in terms of human costs, if there were indeed five thousand instances of rape and murder and theft in China in the recent period? An estimated 16 million people died in three years of starvation after Mao Tse-tung announced in 1958 his Great Leap Forward. So what? Cambodia’s Pol Pot Slaughtered on the order of 20 to 25 per cent of the population: so why would they worry, in Cambodia any more than in China, if joe shot jim?
You see, the Communists wish to nationalize crime. Moreover, they do this without compensation. That is, when the state executes a Chinese or a Russian, there is no compensation experienced by the rest of the population. It hardly adds to the sense of security of the Russian citizen when the population of Gulag rises. And one doubts that the average Chinese feels compensated when he beholds a spectacle of what is, really, mass killing by the state.
It is very perplexing, this lack of energetic humanitarian protest over the habits of the Chinese. The combination of being yellow-skinned and being protected by Marxist theological cover permits savagery; clothe it in acceptable robes, and the eexecutioners get invited to Western banquets, and the subject just never comes up.