Magazine | June 27, 2016, Issue

Apologies and Clarifications

From the official transcript of Imperial Japanese Radio, June 1936

“Hey! How’s everybody doing tonight? We doing okay? Thumbs up! And can I hear a little welcome for Princess Nagako? Isn’t she beautiful? She’s just . . . She’s the best, folks. The best. Look at that skin tone. Gorgeous. And she’s got a figure! Nice, right? I did okay, right? Okay, now, I know I don’t usually do this kind of thing and mostly it’s because I’m a living god — and here we go. See, folks? See the media in the back there writing this all down and it’s going to be on the news, the Emperor called himself a living god, and what’s important to know here is that it’s not me saying this. I hear it from everyone, they come up to me, people in my organization and people on the street and they’re saying to me, Emperor, you’re a living god, so it’s not me. Not me. But look, the media is very unfair to me. A lot of them are Chinese, frankly. And that’s part of what this is about, all of this going on. Look, I’m not saying Chinese people can’t be fair, that’s not what I’m saying. I have tremendous Chinese friends and employees, not many, but some, and they’re basically superstars, but when you look at what people are saying about my organization and then you see that they’re mostly, not all, Chinese, maybe that’s where the unfairness comes from. Look, we’re in Manchuria. This happened. It’s a fact. They don’t like that and so that’s where these unfair things come from, in the papers and wherever. Hey! Where’s my Korean? Raise your hand!”

From “Five Fun Questions for the Party Secretary” in Pravda, 1950

Q: Comrade, who are you wearing?

A: I’m wearing a rough-woven tunic from the Workers’ Weaving and Millworks No. 34. They do wonderful work. I like the drape of the sleeve and, you know, at my age I like my clothes a little more roomy!

Q: You look fantastic!

A: (laughing) Okay, okay, for that I won’t send you to a prison camp!

q: Comrade Stalin, you’ve been very up front and transparent about the movement of certain groups in the Motherland to other areas. Some have suggested that this resembles a kind of racial cleansing or race war. What say you?

A: I thought we were going to be talking mostly about fashion and movies?

Q: It’s on the minds of the people, sir.

A: Okay. I mean, I’m rethinking what I said about the prison camp, but I’ll answer. Look, it’s really the lowest form of argument to accuse someone of resembling any of our enemies in the Great Patriotic War. I mean, it’s getting crazy. You eat vegetables? Well, you know who else ate vegetables? Hitler! So now you’re Hitler, and it’s really just so irritating because you try to engage people on a good-faith kind of level and that’s impossible if it’s always just You’re Hitler! It’s very unfair. People can be so unfair.

Q: But the resettlements?

A: I’m getting to that. Take the Kulaks. Please! You’re probably too young for that joke. But take the Kulaks. And take the Tatars. Both groups, and I have dear friends who are this kind of person, and there are people in the People’s Organization who are Kulaks and Tatars and whatever and I know there are some who are good people, but they need to get on those trains and head to the central republics. Tashkent is a fabulous town. Fabulous. So is Ashgabat. It’s not a you-guys-are-banished type deal. It’s a thing they should want to do, it’s a privilege and it’s unfair to me to call it anything else. Does that mean that there are family members who are still here in Moscow who, you know, are going to be unfair to me because their mother or kid or whatever is now in Konye-Urgench? You tell me.

Q: So you’re saying it’s not a racial thing?

A: I’m the wrong guy to ask! Ask them! They’re the ones who are being unfair to me and not nice. Most Tatars love me. Same with the Kulaks. Okay, now. Is that the fifth question? I’ve got to say, these questions haven’t been fair.

Q: I’m really sorry, Comrade Secretary. You’re not, um, thinking of punishing me, are you?

A: That one is the sixth.

Q: But –

A: You get five questions. Not six. Your rules.

Official Press Release from the Office of Pol Pot

It is unfortunate that my statements on the importance of a unified Democratic Kampuchea have been misconstrued as an attack on intellectuals, academics, teachers, those who can read and write and do simple math, those who wear eyeglasses, and, probably, your parents. The media keeps repeating the phrase “parade them through the streets and write the future in blood and a mountain of skulls” because they need to sell papers. Sad. The reason I am experiencing tremendous success everywhere I go with sellout crowds is because I tell it like it is and I am not politically correct . . .

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