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Shanghai’s new textbooks: Mao is out 

I spotted an article yesterday in The Record about ’s changing , beginning in Shanghai. Propaganda about Chairman is out, replaced by commerce and globalization. But numerous other historical figures are out, too.
   Joseph Kahn wrote:

Zhou [Chunsheng, a professor at Shanghai Normal University,] said the new textbooks followed the ideas of the French historian Fernand Braudel. Braudel advocated including , religion, social customs, economics and ideology into a new “total .” That approach has been popular in many Western countries for more than 50 years.
   Braudel elevated history above the ideology of any nation. China has steadily moved away from its ruling of , but the Shanghai textbooks are the first to try examining it as a phenomenon rather than preaching it as the truth. …
   The new textbooks de-emphasize dynastic change, peasant struggle, ethnic rivalry and war, some critics say, because the leadership does not want people thinking that such things matter a great deal. Officials prefer to create the impression that Chinese through the ages cared more about innovation, technology and trade relationships with the outside world.

   This makes some sense, and I welcome any move away from and . But for my tastes, it doesn’t go far enough. It would be a shame if Chinese students never heard about Mao’s ill-fated moves and killings that led to the deaths of 70 million Chinese—who needs Japanese invaders while that’s going on? Or, for that matter:

The Shanghai revisions do not address many domestic and foreign concerns about the biased way Chinese schools teach recent history. Like the old textbooks, for example, the new ones play down historic errors or atrocities like the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the army crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989.

   I criticize the way Japanese textbooks gloss over World War II history, and I’m going to be just as hard on my own culture. Like so many cultures, it appears we want our children to repeat the errors of the past, but that’s going to be a hard point to argue against in what is, despite the changing emphasis, a totalitarian socialist régime. Mao is not going to be painted as a bad guy right now—that is still left to those living in the safety and of the west to expose and expound.
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A few years ago I volunteered at Aushwitz in Poland in an exchange program. It was amazing to view the holocaust from another perspective. Here in the US the holocaust victims are primarily painted as Jews. But in Germany and Poland, a few of the musuems I went to did not even mention Jews and focused on the Communists and the Russians and would give a byline to the religous minorities -"people of non-christian faith were also persecuted". Its like that quote in Brave New World - " History is Bunk"  
Wow, what an amazing perspective—the one we are taught here is also about Jews being Holocaust victims. I once heard that Russians were not counted in the six million total that perished in Nazi concentration camps, because they were not our allies, and that the number only consisted of Jews.  
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   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.

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