Bill Kristol: Maoist

Not content with being labeled a Trotskyite, Bill Kristol is now aiming for Maoist with a piece in the Weekly Standard entitled, “Let 1,000 Republican Flowers Bloom.”

The piece itself is a pedestrian call for greater diversity and creativity in formulating new Republican strategies, but it’s the framing device that offends. And it offends on a number of levels.

First, it’s simply hackish, cliched writing, recasting a political catchphrase that has already been appropriated to death. Second, it betokens a callousness (hardly limited to Kristol) to other peoples’ historical horrors: I can’t imagine him calling for a journalistic “night of the long knives.”

Third, it’s a lazy misquotation: a more accurate one would be “let a hundred flowers blossom.”

Finally, it completely fails as a metaphor. When Chairman Mao declared “let a hundred flowers blossom,” he was setting an ideological trap. The call for open criticism of Chinese communism was intended to flush out dissidents and heretics who were promptly killed or sent to reeducation camps.

The only way his metaphor could remotely work is if his article was only preparing the ground to quash any divergence from the Weekly Standard line. Which wouldn’t exactly surprise me.

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