Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

Spectre of Mao on White House Lawn: “I Waved the Red Book Teng Hsiao-Ping’s Face”

First Published: Revolutionary Worker, “Special National Edition”, February 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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(WPS)–When Keith and I arrived at the White House, I was out of breath. After a tense cab ride in rush hour traffic, we had been dropped at a gate that turned out to be the wrong one. We rushed around the corner to Pennsylvania Avenue. We wanted to be early so we would get good spots. We hoped we weren’t too late.

We got in line behind others in the press, all with our green and white credentials on chains around our necks. I was anxious to get in and get started. The day before at Andrews Air Force Base we had gone to test the water and see if we could make it in. We met a lot of other members of the press who are interested in the Workers Press Service, and what it is. In another situation, I would have gone into depth, but yesterday I had tried to play it cool. Didn’t want to get thrown out before the big day. “We cover news of interest to workers from the point of view of the working class,” and invariably, they would reply, “Oh, are you connected with the people who attacked the Chinese mission?” A few reporters wanted to know our differences with the Daily Worker and how we viewed the current regime, “Are you Maoists?” they asked. “Well, yes,” we answered, hoping the discussion would end. In addition, some of the reporters from a reactionary Chinatown paper recognized Keith. “I hope we get in,” I thought. “I hope we didn’t blow it yesterday.”

“Press credentials and one piece of photo I.D.,” said the secret service man it the gate. I was wearing my credentials for the trip, so I pulled out one other piece of I.D. I felt the Red Book next to my skin and thought of the Traitor Teng leaflets in an envelope in my purse. 1 was ready. Go right in, he said. We did. We were in. The first hurdle was crossed.

Walking down the path to the White House, my first thought was, how clean it is, so white. Nothing else looks like that in D.C. The poster the Chinese made in the 1960s showing the Black liberation struggle storming and burning the Capitol flashed through my mind. We won’t accomplish that, today, I thought, but it will be a taste of what’s to come. The press was everywhere, outside waiting, inside the White House press room. There was press from everywhere–France, Bulgaria, China. Anticipation was in the air. If they only knew what I’m waiting for.

I was thinking about the press. I knew everyone had been bored stiff at Andrews. Few writers had even bothered to come. Those who had, waited with the armies of photographers and camera crews in the cold snow, to snap a few pictures of a man getting off an airplane, a raggedy receiving line and a tiny welcoming demonstration. So I knew that the press was hungry for news, and that what Keith and I were about to do was definitely news.

They would be mad about us using our credentials to get in. We were breaking an unspoken rule of their press–we were openly, proudly taking sides and we were going to do something about it. When I lived in Seattle, we had fought for a press pass. After twice denying them, the Seattle police department finally backed down especially due to the support the Worker had won among the press in the fight. It had been an important victory for the communist press because it gave us the freedom to get into places which we previously hadn’t, to hang the bourgeoisie with their own words. But today we were going to act–we’d write about it later–but our words and actions would bring the truth out right in Carter’s and Teng’s own backyard and before the eyes and ears of millions. I only wish it would get into China. Time was going so slowly.

Finally it was time to go out to the lawn.

When I got there, the press section was already cramped. Hundreds were cramped into this little tiny space. How was I ever going to be in a place where I could be seen? I walked behind the bleachers all the way around. The best I could do was in the second row. At least the podium was directly in front of me, and at least the woman I was behind was short. I couldn’t see where Keith was.

I turned my attention to the arrival. I had certainly never been anywhere before where there were so many representatives of U.S. imperialism. Kennedy and other senators. Congressmen and their wives. Mondale and wife arrived. Everybody smiling. How wonderful that Mao and his followers no longer ruled China. How wonderful that China was joining militarily with the United Slates.

The Chinese delegation lines up. Someone hands them an American flag which they start waving happily. What traitors! Only a few short years ago, effigies of U.S. imperialism were smashed and harpooned and beaten in the streets of Peking. It flashed in my mind and I knew Keith must have been thinking about it too–Mao’s statement in 1970, when the U.S. imperialists were raining down bombs in Indochina, when they were shooting people down, Black and white, here, at Jackson State, at Kent State. Mao Tsetung had made a statement and mobilized the Chinese people to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Indochina and the people of this country and the whole world–to make revolution. Revolutionary China! It had meant a world of difference and now Teng and his entourage kiss ass, wave the flag and like it. I can’t wait to expose these fools.

Enter Jimmy Carter with the biggest smile of all. Seeing Jimmy Carter I can’t help but think of Iran. Were you smiling, Jimmy, as you watched the U.S.-backed Iranian army gun down hundreds of thousands of Iranians? Were you smiling, Jimmy, when your friend the Shah of Iran was forced to leave his country due to the strength of the revolution? Before I came, I thought I would be awed, or maybe afraid of Carter and the secret service and the ceremoniousness of the occasion. But it wasn’t that way at all. They seemed hollow and insignificant compared to the task we had ahead and the millions we represent.

Then Teng arrived in a chauffered Cadillac limousine–that is, his excellency, as he decided to call himself. Keith and I both felt least nervous about what we were going to do when we saw him for the first time at Andrews. I had had a tremendous opportunity to confront him face to face that day, as he had walked only about three or four feet from where I was standing. And I was tempted. The sight of him had aroused such hatred and disdain that this puny rat, this smug little fascist, was the main person responsible for destroying the great achievements of the Chinese people. I wish I had seen this little traitor being paraded in the streets of Peking in a dunce cap when he was ridiculed by the people for his reactionary capitalist schemes and proposals. The “unrepentant capitalist-roader” as Mao called him, stood before me offering up China to the U.S. imperialists. He may have been able to seize upon Mao’s death to launch an armed coup, murdering and purging tens of thousands of revolutionaries, but he’ll never suppress what they stood for. They’ll find that out today.

I couldn’t believe they had Teng and Carter jointly inspect the troops. What a fitting symbol of what normalization of relations really means. As much as they crank out propaganda about peace, the reality of their war moves asserts itself. It’s enraging to think of the Chinese youth being drafted and forced to die for U.S. imperialism, when before they were willing to die fighting against it.

Carter and Teng came back to the platform. I tried to move to the front. “When should I break in,” I thought. I wanted to wait for Teng, but I wasn’t positive that he was going to speak. Carter stepped forward to the podium. “On behalf of the American people, I want to welcome you.” You don’t speak for the American people, I thought. “Our peoples have had a long history of friendship marred by only 30 years.” Yeah, the 30 years led by Mao. The 30 years when the imperialists were thrown out of China. Standing there, face to face with Teng and Carter, it came over me–the significance and magnificence of what had been lost. The tremendous achievements of the Chinese people–not just that they had made revolution, but their continuing battles against the bourgeoisie and the remnants of the old society, and their struggles to transform society completely to eliminate all oppression and inequality had surpassed anything that mankind had ever seen before.

I unbuttoned my coat and got out my Red Book, a symbol internationally of revolution and communism. During the Cultural Revolution, the youth and the workers took up the Red Book and vowed to master the science of revolution, Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution sent shock waves throughout the world. In large part through this little Red Book, Marxism was spread through every corner of the globe, including the U.S.A.

Like many before me, I raised the Red Book high. I knew Teng would know what it was. I wonder if he thought he’d seen the last of it. That bastard! I wish we could give him what he really deserves. 1 thought of the purge of the Four, and Mao and the Chinese people. Compared to what they went through, this was nothing. Knowing millions worldwide would stand with my words, I shouted as loud as I could, ”The Revolutionary Communist Party says Down with Teng Hsiao-ping!” Carter and I looked right into each other’s eyes. He started to talk louder. I yelled, “The Revolutionary Communist Party says Long Live Mao Tsetung!”

I can’t remember exactly when the secret service agent grabbed me. They must have been shocked that after all their tightened security we made it into their impenetrable fortress. These members of the palace guard were all decked out in black uniforms, gold braid and white shirts. They looked like little tin soldiers. They grabbed both my arms and tried to push down my head.

When I got outside the press corral, as they were dragging me out, I somehow was able to face Jimmy Carter again, and I yelled, “Teng, you murderer! You may have killed tens of thousands of revolutionaries, you may be kissing the boots of U.S. imperialism, but you will never stop revolution. The Chinese people will overthrow you once again.” Then they started pushing me harder and faster.

All the secret service, Teng and Carter breathed a sigh of relief. I was listening intensely, since I knew it was just beginning. I wanted to hear what Keith had to say.

Later, Keith told me that at first, where he was, other photographers and reporters couldn’t see me, they could see the Red Book, and heard my words, but they couldn’t see what was happening. As I was being dragged out, he started, in, waving the “Traitor Teng, Beware” leaflets which had achieved notoriety earlier in the week when they had flown through the broken windows at the Chinese mission. “You may be able to drag the Revolutionary Communist Party out of your garden party, but you can’t stop the demonstration today. And you can’t stop the revolution.” He was eye level with Carter. Carter’s jaw dropped, and he forgot Teng’s name and title. Teng paled visibly.

This time the secret service men knew what they were aiming for. They muzzled him, trying to stop his words. But he was able to knock the hand off his mouth, and he cried, “Long Live Mao, Long Live the Four, Long Live the Revolutionary Communist Party.”

“Lots of people told me later that it took guts to do what we did,” Keith said. “But I wasn’t scared at all.” We drew confidence from the fact that we represented all those inspired by Mao and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Glad to disrupt this spectacle and to draw even greater attention to the demonstration and the fitting welcome we planned for Teng.

The secret service took us to the other side of the White House, handcuffed us, searched us and our belongings, and photographed us. They asked us if we were ready to talk about “the incident.” We said we’d never be ready for that. They kept trying to get information out of us. We refused to talk. They xeroxed my notes, confiscated my two press passes, one from Seattle and one issued by the Worker, and photographed us again, since the first set didn’t come out. They took us in separate paddy wagons to the D.C. district police station.

They confiscated everything. They confiscated my comb, toothbrush and pens. When I said, hey, I need a pen and paper to write my story, they replied, “You can’t keep dangerous weapons in your cell.” A pen in our hands exposing their crimes is a dangerous weapon. Although the secret service kept hurtling threats at us, including the one that they thought would really throw us, “spending a night in the women’s detention center with all the ’criminals,’” it was they who were threatened. One of them even said, “You can do a good story on this detention center.”

I was only in Washington for a short time, and made two main stops, the White House and jail. I infinitely preferred the company in jail. While I was isolated for a large part of the time, I did get to talk to a handful of other prisoners and it was inspiring. After a long discussion with one woman, about what we did and why, as they kept us in a paddy wagon in a garage somewhere for an hour or two, I said to her, “Well, what do you think about what I’ve been saying to you about revolution and communism?” She replied softly, “Revolution is definitely right.” So I said, “You better get involved then.” She answered, “How?”