Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Factually-Flawed Argument

A painting depicting Mao Zedong with Norman Bethune
Talk about trying to stand out from the crowd.

A Canadian politician is criticizing his own government's decision to spend $2.5 million on a new visitor centre that honours Canadian doctor and Communist supporter Norman Bethune.

Calgary Tory MP Rob Anders says the Harper government should not be spending taxpayer dollars to fund Bethune House in Gravenhurst, Ontario, saying the Canadian doctor supported Mao Zedong's regime that he claims killed millions of people.

A portrait of the Canadian doctor
"This is a fellow who was a fan and serves as a memorial for the support of Mao Zedong who was the largest murderer in human history having killed about 80 million people," Anders said in an interview on CBC Radio's As It Happens.

I'm not the only person who is not a fan of the Communist Party of China or Mao Zedong or Norman Bethune for that matter," he continued. "So I think there's a lot of people out there that think it's pretty questionable, spurious that taxpayer money is being used to support something like this. When you consider that even [former Prime Minister and diplomat] Lester Pearson who has his grave site in Wakefield, Quebec it's not particularly grandly cared for and yet we're spending millions on this fellow who lionized the biggest mass murderer in history."

Anders goes on to say it's actually the Chinese who have the biggest problem coming to terms with Mao, listing such grievances as the one-child policy, forced abortions, persecution of the Falun Gong, suppression of freedom of speech in Hong Kong...

It's a pity the interviewer didn't know much about Chinese history to point out that Bethune helped the Communists through treating the wounded in the Sino-Japanese war in 1938.

He performed battlefield surgical operations on war casualties and trained doctors and nurses. But a year later he died of infection when he accidentally cut his finger while operating on a soldier.

Bethune contracted septicaemia or blood poisoning and died of his wounds on November 12, 1939. That's a full decade before Mao came to power.

Bethune performing battlefield surgery in China
It was then that Mao began his political purges and millions of people suffered. There are still discrepancies over the numbers of victims in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, but regardless, Bethune was not there to "lionize" Mao.

In any event Bethune House is popular with Chinese tourists and business delegations because Bai Qiuen (白求恩) is revered by mainlanders for his contribution towards the Communist cause, and is written about in every student's textbook. He is Canada's best known ambassador, with Mark Rowswell or Dashan (大山) a close second.

Perhaps Anders should get his facts straight before he makes such outrageous comments in public, because what he is saying is an embarrassment -- not just as a politician, but as a Canadian.

And it also shows we outside of China should know a bit about modern Chinese history to better understand the country and its people.

Anyways, shouldn't Prime Minister Stephen Harper step in now and punish his own MP for not being in line with the government?

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