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‘Equity’ Is a Communist Tactic That Destroys Nations: Cultural Revolution Survivor Lily Tang Williams

“Under Mao’s Cultural Revolution, they can find something you wrote, something you said many years ago, and then demonize you as an ‘oppressor.’ … You lose your job. You go to camps. You go to struggle sessions. Have you seen the struggle sessions in America today? It’s called less whiteness training.”

Lily Tang Williams is a survivor of communist China’s Cultural Revolution and now a congressional candidate for New Hampshire’s 2nd district.

“I see the writing on the wall,” she says. From statues being toppled to the push for “equity” to people losing their businesses and their careers because they refused the COVID vaccines, America is descending into the same kind of authoritarianism she fled from, Williams says.

“I thought I was having PTSD. I would literally wake up in the middle of the night. … This is like the Cultural Revolution all over again.”

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Jan Jekielek:

Lily Tang Williams, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Lily Tang Williams:

Thank you for having me. The pleasure is mine.

Mr. Jekielek:

Lily, let’s start with your early life. It is so important to have these stories. You actually grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China, under the Chinese Communist Party. Let’s start there.

Ms. Williams:

I was born in Chengdu, which is the capital city of Sichuan Province in southwest China, next to Tibet. My parents were illiterate workers. They worked in a state factory six days a week. People today cannot imagine how primitive the living conditions were. Eight families all worked at my dad’s factory and shared one bathroom, eight families with children. And the bathroom was just a big hole in the ground. It was divided in the middle, so half for the women and half for the men. It was one hole in the ground with two bricks where you can go squat. So, it was very primitive. My parents, because they were poor workers, got very few food coupons. People have no idea that when you live in a socialist, communist country, when the economy is really bad everybody is equally poor. Only when your position is pretty high up in the Communist Party, which is the only party in China, do you get more rationing; from rice, to wheat, to milk powder, to fabrics, to oil, and to sugar.

My mom always told me I was a little skinny thing, because I grew up on rice porridge. My mom did not have milk for me, and they were hungry too. So, I grew up on rice porridge. I was a very, very skinny little girl until I went to college at age 17. Because my mom and dad worked for the state factory six days a week, we didn’t have time to do lots of other fun stuff. Life was all suffering and no fun. Every day it was politics. We lived next to a school. At 6:30 in the morning, the loudspeaker come on. Nobody can sleep in. The loudspeaker says, “Get up, go to work, go to school.”

And then we sang red songs. I was two years old when Mao’s Cultural Revolution started. My memories started when I was four or five, at the peak of his Cultural Revolution. I was in my grandmother’s neighborhood. My grandmother’s neighborhood had this huge public square. My first memories are of these struggle sessions in the public square with the so-called black classes. In classic Marxist theory, there is the oppressor versus the oppressed. Under oppressor there are five black classes. Under oppressed there are five red classes. I was red. I did not have to go to struggle sessions, but other people were in the black classes. They had to go to struggle sessions, be publicly shamed, and denounce their families and their ancestors. I remember some of them looked so pale, because they got inside the military trucks and were going to get publicly executed.

And I got so scared. “Oh, really? Those people are getting shot?” That’s what they told me. So, it was very scary. My childhood memories were just scary chaos. I didn’t understand. I didn’t know the truth. But also, I didn’t know what to think, because they don’t teach you how to think. There is politics in your face every day. And another painful memory I just discovered last year, is somebody committed suicide by jumping into the 20 foot well in my grandma’s neighborhood. Some people said, “Come look, come look.” So, I went there and looked. It was a man’s body floating on top of the water in a 20-foot deep well. I got so scared that I just ran away. But I was told, if you have a tragic childhood memory, then don’t think about it. So, I did not think about it.

I didn’t even know who he was. I did not ask questions. I just remember there was no water for a while, because they had to disinfect everything. Last year I started thinking about Mao’s Cultural Revolution being similar to conditions in today’s America. I asked my uncle, “Do you remember that guy in the water well?” He said, “Yes, he was from a black family and committed suicide. He couldn’t handle the struggle sessions anymore.” It’s when people throw rocks at you if you don’t apologize very well, and you don’t denounce your family. They might even send you to concentration camps, or have you executed. So that’s my childhood. I don’t know what else I might discover. Maybe I need to sit down with a therapist to dig into my memories. Sometimes it’s very painful to think about it.

Mr. Jekielek:

That’s fascinating, because you were actually one of the red classes, which means you were the oppressed. You were the good guys.

Ms. Williams:

The oppressed, yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

You were called oppressed in this system that the Chinese Communist Party created. The Chinese Communist Party has this narrative that says it lifted millions of people out of poverty. You hear that again and again as being one of the great successes of China. Indeed, the standard of living, as compared to the Cultural Revolution period, is a lot higher now in China.

Ms. Williams:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

How do you respond to that?

Ms. Williams:

I know the difference, because we lived on food rationing, shared one bathroom, had no privacy, and were just hungry all the time. So, I know the difference. When Mao died in 1976, I was 12 years old. China’s economy was just about to completely collapse. People have no idea. The 40 million peasants who supported the Communist Party were starving to death during the 1950s. In 1978, when Deng Xiaoping came back to power, he wanted to have economic reform. He was not very ideological. He just said, “we will allow some people to get rich.” Basically, he let the peasants grow a little food on their land, which was of course owned by the state. But this was an alternative to the people’s communes, where people had no food to eat, and it was all the communist way. And I heard that in Sichuan the peasants actually started to grow food.

They said, “We don’t want to have communes anymore, so here’s your land. Let’s divide it up.” You can give a percentage back to the government, and then you can keep the rest. That gave people an incentive to work hard, because they could keep a portion for themselves. They wouldn’t have to be starving to death. So, this worked very well, and Deng Xiaoping heard about it. There was supposed to be a crackdown, because it was not legal. But he said, “Actually, let them do it. Let’s just monitor it.” Then later, basically, they did this reform. That’s why they did it, because it worked. We had a better harvest, instead of people starving to death under Mao. Then, Deng Xiaoping did more reforms and central planning. Later on, they allowed a little bit of private industry, private business, and private property, all of which was demonized under communism. And then, China boomed. People not only had their food, but they had their condos, and they had their own companies.

600 million Chinese were lifted out of poverty. Not by the party, but by their own hard work, and by their human nature to pursue prosperity and freedom. So, I do not buy into that party narrative. Chinese people are successful all over the world, if you just leave them alone. They know how to do the math. They know how to work hard. They know how to cook, clean, do IT work, and do restaurants. They are prosperous. It’s just human nature, if you just get out the way. So, it’s a little bit free market capitalism, coupled with the decentralization of some economic policies in Beijing that lifted the people out of poverty. I don’t buy their propaganda that gives them the credit. They never give Chinese people and small business people enough credit. The people said, “You know what? We were starving to death. Thanks for getting out of way. Now we can actually feed ourselves and pursue happiness in life.” So, I don’t buy into their propaganda at all. Human beings have a natural desire for freedom and prosperity. People know how to achieve that, if you just leave them alone.

Mr. Jekielek:

It’s almost like a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. It’s interesting how you frame it. If people are starving to death, and then you create a situation where they’re no longer starving to death, they might be somewhat grateful for that. 

Ms. Williams:

That’s their talking point. And of course, the people would rather have a better life than being hungry all the time, and having no security at all. I supported the economic reforms. When I was in college in the eighties, I wanted to see political reform as well, because I was in law school. Rule of law means you have to have political reform. No matter how rich you become in the economic reform movement, if you don’t have political reform to protect your private property, then you have no guarantees. Look at what happened to today’s Chinese billionaires. There is no guarantee that you will be billionaire forever. You can lose everything overnight. Political freedom and economic freedom have to go together.

Mr. Jekielek:

Very interesting. I’m going to go back now to this idea. You were part of the red classes, so you were probably a Young Pioneer. You probably participated in all these communist youth organizations. I do know that you were a Communist Party member, and you were serious about that. Please tell me what it was like growing up in these organizations.

Ms. Williams:

When I was young, the best students in the government schools got nominated by teachers to be Young Pioneers. Actually, I have a story about that. I wanted to become a Young Pioneer so badly, and I was one of the best students. I made 100 percent on all my subjects in academic study. They had 3 criteria; political, academic, and physical. You have to score the best in all those three areas. That means we had a physical education class. You cannot fail that class. We had political education. It’s all about political stuff, and you had to comply. And you can’t be a black child or you would be disqualified from joining Mao’s grassroot organizations for students, the Young Pioneers and the Red Guards. You have to be qualified politically. I made the best grades, so I was confident that I would be the first one to join Young Pioneers. Naturally, I’m a red child as well. 

No, I did not join. Do you know why? Because my girlfriend reported to teacher that I was too confident. I had told her, “I bet I will be the first one to join Young Pioneers.” I was too confident. My teacher called me into her office to say, “We’re not going to let you join the Young Pioneers, because you are not humble enough, and you are full of yourself.” Basically, I got criticized. I just lowered my head. Then, she continued to say, “This is a collective society. Your individual expression of confidence is a flaw, a drawback. You need to comply. You need to act like everybody else.” I went home very upset. I talked to my parents and they supported my teachers. My parents were not educated. So, I also learned a big lesson at age of seven. I could not trust my friends, and I probably could not even trust family members. During Mao’s Cultural Revolution, you were supposed to whisper, because if your neighbors heard you say something not politically correct, they could report to the authorities.

Mr. Jekielek:

Not PC, you mean not politically correct, right?

Ms. Williams:

Yes. Not politically correct can potentially connect you with something like a black family. Who are the black families? They are the rich farmers, landlords, rightists, bad influencers, and counter-revolutionaries. Those are very subjective terms. If you say something that’s potentially against government, or you’re even just complaining about the party, you could be considered revolutionary. So I learned my lesson. I said, “Okay I’m going to join the Young Pioneers. I’m going to keep everything private. I won’t tell anybody anything, and I won’t trust my friends.” And so, I just went to school, made good grades and chanted, “Long live Chairman Mao.” You have to do all that chanting in school. I proved to my teacher that I was good, and I joined the Young Pioneers one year later. In middle school, I joined the Red Guards. In high school, a communist youth is called a youth member. In order to teach in law school after graduating from college, I had to become a party member. So, I went through all those four party groups. Thank goodness I woke up earlier.

Mr. Jekielek:

Let’s start there. Did you believe in all this? Did you believe in the ideology? When did you start believing, or did you not believe?

Ms. Williams:

Oh, I believed everything. They controlled the press, all the media, all the TVs, all the radios, and me, of course. My parents generation, and my uncle’s generation were all totally brainwashed. I believed that we needed to eliminate the black classes. They were the enemies of the people, and the enemies of the state. I knew one friend that could not join the Young Pioneers because her grandparents had owned land. I believed it all. How am I going to know the truth? That’s what I heard every day. Political stuff is in your face every day. I was unhappy because I was not the first one that got to join the Young Pioneers. I was such a good student. But I was also not happy that I had learned to be a very cautious, self-censored, and untrusting person. For so many years in school I had chanted, “Long live China, long live the party for another 10,000 years.” When Mao died that was the first time I asked a question in my own head, “How could he die?”

Because he had become like my God. I could see him talking to me, smiling at me from up in the sky, behind the clouds. When we had to burn the wood to heat up the wok to stir fry Chinese food, sometimes all of a sudden I could see his face in the fire. All the other religions were demonized. We could not call ourselves Buddhist or Christian. You had to be a believer in Mao and communism. So, how could he die all of a sudden? I thought he would live forever. Like we had said, 10,000 years, and then double 10,000 years. Of course, it was not science, but we also did not learn real science either. They canceled science. Remember, Mao destroyed the old cultural ideas, costumes, and social habits. Everything was supposed to be canceled and destroyed. Why didn’t I know science? It’s like I never even questioned if he was a human or a God? I never even asked that question.

Mr. Jekielek:

Let’s talk very briefly about the Great Leap Forward. This is one of these bizarre decisions that cost millions of people their lives. It created this extreme poverty that we’ve been talking about. Can you share with the audience about this?

Ms. Williams:

The Great Leap Forward was Mao, non-stop. It was ne campaign after another; Land Reform, Three-anti, Five-anti. After the 1949 founding of the PRC, he started Great Leap Forward. He wanted to have China’s agriculture output increased to compete with the former Soviet Union. He and Stalin had some conflicts, and it was not a good relationship. He told the peasants how to grow food, to basically grow the crops really close together, so as to increase production. How come central planners know how to grow food, and how can they tell peasants how to grow food? Because all the crops were grown too close, they died. There were also a lot of other bad policies. When starvation start happening in the countryside, the local officials would not tell Beijing, because they were afraid.

Remember, all the party leaders were promoted by the higher-ups. If they had bad news, they might lose their job, and they might not get promoted. So, nobody dared to tell the truth. The famine continued to spread, until eventually the central government Beijing knew about it, and they still didn’t do anything. Mao was very much a sociopath. He said, “We have lots of Chinese people.” He once said. “If 10 million or 20 million die, it’s no big deal.” When people kissed his hand crying to say, “I need help for mother,” he never even looked at them. It’s like he had no emotion on his face. Before I was born in 1964, I heard my family talk about the three years of natural disaster. I said, “What was that?” They said, “People were starving to death and had no food.” But they all blamed it on three years of natural disaster. They still do today, and they don’t even know the truth. How many died? They don’t even know.

I found out how many died of starvation after I came to this country and woke up. I started to challenge my past indoctrination, and read the books myself in this country when my English got better. I found out that my whole life in China had been a lie.

Mr. Jekielek:

How was America portrayed in China through all these years?

Ms. Williams:

When I read some histories the Great Famine, it was caused by communist policies—by Mao’s policies specifically. Of course, I did not go to K-12 school here.

Mr. Jekielek:

Now, you’re reading history in a free country like the U.S. But let’s just go back to China for a moment. How was America portrayed, and what was the Chinese Communist Party’s explanation of what America was about? What was the perception? What was your perception of America while you were still in China, before you came here?

Ms. Williams:

I had no idea. I had no way of knowing the outside world at all. We could not travel. We had no competing news. We were demonized. Actually, we were told to demonize America the whole time, because it was imperialist America. As for the Taiwanese people, we needed to liberate them. They were suffering and starving. I was thinking, but I’m really hungry. How could they be worse off than I am?” I had no idea. I had no idea in of what to think China. We were a totally isolated country.

Mr. Jekielek:

You were taught to demonize Americans. Why? What was the excuse?

Ms. Williams:

We would hold our face up and chant, “Down with American imperialism.” If somebody had a family or friend relationship with a Taiwanese or American, then you could be called a traitor. Then you would be called a counter-revolutionary and belong to the black class. The first time I understood what America is all about, is after I went to college in Shanghai when I was 17 years old. I had no idea what Americans thought about Chinese history until I came to this country. It’s a human tragedy how people could just not know the truth at all.

Mr. Jekielek:

Did you have any friends in the black classes?

Ms. Williams:

One girl was, because she could never be allowed to join the Young Pioneer. She could never wear the red scarf. She told me, “My grandparents have some land, so they are black class.” But I went to her apartment and they lived just like us, very poor, very primitive. We suffered the same as them. After the communist takeover, it didn’t matter which class you were from, we all were all equally poor. If you had some property, like some of my friends in the country that were black class, they lost everything. They said, “The army and communist party marched in and kicked us out and lived in our nice houses.” So, they were just like us, the poor red worker class, except they had to go to struggle sessions. They could not join most organizations. I did not think about this deeply. I just said, “How come you cannot wear the red scarf?” But I also said, “Oh, you guys are bad,” because that’s what I was told.

Mr. Jekielek:

The red classes were taught to think a certain way about the black classes. And of course you never want to become the black class. This is what I’m trying to get at. Are you saying you perceived these people to be bad?

Ms. Williams:

Yes, especially because of the the indoctrination in school, and what I saw in the public square. Every day you saw this, and you listened to it. We did not even have TV’s. You were too poor to even afford a movie ticket once in a while. Every day it was on the loudspeaker in the classroom. The teachers would indoctrinate us. Starting in elementary school, every week we had to take what they called moral character education. But actually, it was the political correctness class. Everybody had to go there. Then you were basically listening to the party teachers. All the teachers worked for the government, so they had the same narratives. Actually, and I did not know until years later, for one year my grandmother was identified as potential black class, because her first husband, my real grandfather, died before I was born.

When my mom was baby, my grandmother had to marry a second husband, a poor worker. But they wanted my grandmother to confess why the first husband died. Did he die as a counter-revolutionary, killed by the government? Or was he killed, as my grandma claimed, by his own people. My grandfather was the country outlaw leader in the Sichuan Mountains.

Mr. Jekielek:

Oh.

Ms. Williams:

Yes. Pretty wild, right? But I had no idea. Maybe that’s where I got some of my brains from. So, she was so nervous and said, “What am I going to do?” She tried to comply, and she went to the struggle sessions. My uncle told me there was somebody poking her in the back every day, “Confess, confess. What did your husband do? How did he die?” After one year of lengthy investigation, they finally closed her case and said, “Okay, your husband died because his own man killed him.” And not because my grandfather was a counter-revolutionary. My whole entire family would have been classified as black class. This is the first time I have actually told this story about my real grandfather that I never met. So, I had a step-grandfather, who was red class. My grandmother was very relieved that we were finally red. My uncle told me that there was one woman that keep poking her. In recent years, I discovered that my grandmother had to suffer in silence for a year in order to protect our family. She complied and went to struggle sessions, and she apologized.

But she was smart enough to keep saying, “No, my husband is not a counter-revolutionary. His own man killed him.” She kept saying the same thing all the time. So, they made her write self-criticism letters and all that stuff they want you to do. It was terrible. It sounds similar to today’s situation. Finally, she came out clean. Otherwise, my life might be different today.

Mr. Jekielek:

Okay. So, obviously, you were very smart. You went up in the ranks, you joined the organizations, and you became a law professor. Please tell me how that happened.

Ms. Williams:

I wanted to study law in Fudan University in Shanghai. It’s one of the top five Chinese universities. I studied two years for the national entrance exam. I got picked by the department of education to attend law school in Shanghai. The reason I wanted to study law was because I now wanted to search for the truth. Mao actually was a human being and that’s why he died. I realized that. So, who lied to me about him?  Maybe we should not rely on men to govern our country. We should have a rule of law society. I wanted to become that person who pushed for this change. I went to law school. Quickly, I became lost again, because they told me law is a tool for the party to govern the masses—it’s the Soviet Union model. It’s not about equality. It’s not about justice or liberty.

So, I became a rebellious teenager, even though they had a lot of rules. I went to dancing parties, even though dancing parties were illegal and banned. Dating was banned in my first year in college in 1981. But in 1982, we were going through a cultural renaissance in China. And remember, all talk about political reform was banned. Suddenly, we could wear blue jeans, let our hair down, and go to dancing parties. Guess what I did, as a third-year law school student? I met an American exchange student and he told me about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. A light bulb came on in my head. For the first time I heard about the concept of individual rights. I said, “Individual rights? Oh, that’s something I can’t even talk about. It’s all collective rights, workers rights, women’s rights, and peasants rights, it’s never individual rights.”

He told me, “Lily, you’re Chinese. You have yellow skin and you’re a woman, but you are created by your creator, God, and you have rights. Rights are not given to you by your government, by your party. You exist because it’s your natural right to be you, just by being born.” I just could not turn that off in my head. I said, “Oh, America is so cool.” He told me more about America. And I said, “Well someday, if I have to leave China for a free country, America would be my place to go, the promised land.” And that day came. I became a faculty member. I was one of the five people of the first graduation class of my law school to stay as a law school faculty member. I got one of the jobs to stay in Shanghai. I did not want to go back to Sichuan. It was out west and still backwards.

I wanted to stay in Shanghai. That’s where I could meet foreigners, and pick their brains to find out what the world was like outside of China. When I became a faculty member it was probably my third awakening point. You had to become a party member. You had to go to political study every week. We had a communist party committee in our law school in every department, besides your academic dean. When I thought there was no hope for me, I got to come to America. I got to leave China. But I had to change my strategy. You needed to get permission to quit your job. You needed to get permission to apply for your private passport. Otherwise I would be stuck in China. So, I had to change my strategy in order to leave China. That’s why I called it fleeing China. People would say, “You did not flee. You came here legally as a graduate student.” But they have no idea about the suffering I went through to plan my escape.

I went to party meetings and proclaimed, “Yes, I support the party.” I became an active supporter and cheerleader again. Then finally, I asked my boss, “May I quit my job and apply for a passport, because I got accepted for graduate school by the University of Texas in Austin, Texas?” I had to ask for permission. He put it off until I had proven myself, and then he okayed it. He had to sign an agreement. Then, I had to sign the agreement to promise to go back to China to serve my country, after I came here to get a masters degree on my own time, and on my own money. I had to find American sponsor. I came over here with only $100 to my name. And I had no family and no friends here.

I owed my professor $1,200. I was already in the hole when I first came to this country. In order to get permission to leave China, I had to apply for my passport seven times. You know what? Every time when I went to the Shanghai police station to apply for a passport, they threw the papers back in my face. “Why do you want to go to an imperialist country? You don’t love China anymore? It’s your motherland.” I got this big sermon. I just didn’t say anything. Then I said, “I want to come back and I will serve my country better. I will get a higher degree on my own time and money, but then I’ll come back.” So, you just have to say all those lies. Finally, seven tries later, I got my passport. It took three times at the American consulate to get my visa. People were so excited for me when I got my visa, and the line was so long. They touched my hair, trying to get some of my luck. “Oh, you got a visa. You already have one foot in the U.S.”

Because when you get a visa, that’s your legal ticket to fly out of China. People were so happy for me, and I felt happy too. I came here on May 11th, 1988, two months before my 24th birthday. I had nothing, and was starting all over again. But I was so happy. It was the happiest day of my life,.

Mr. Jekielek:

How was America officially demonized by the Chinese Communist Party and by the teachers? And at age 22 you were a professor? 

Ms. Williams:

That was an exception, though, because when China had just opened up colleges, they needed teachers badly.

Mr. Jekielek:

I see.

Ms. Williams:

We were the first law school class to graduate. They needed teachers. So, five out of 60 students all stayed in the same law school to become teachers or work staff.

Mr. Jekielek:

I see. It was just that particular moment in history. That’s very interesting.

Ms. Williams:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

America was being demonized, but there were all these people that were kind of stunned, and maybe jealous that you were going to America; you already had one foot in America. So actually, America really wasn’t that demonized in their minds.

Ms. Williams:

There was official propaganda demonizing America, demonizing capitalism, and demonizing profits. It’s what traditional communists do. It’s like the youth in our country being taught to demonize profits, rich people, and capitalism. They don’t understand economics and what is the best way to acheive freedom and prosperity. So, there was an official narrative in China. All the educated people like me wanted to escape China and come to America to study, because they wanted to have a better life. I don’t know how many of them went back to China, or how many of them like me were just desperate to get out. And I actually got to stay here. There’s no way I would go back even if I had signed that agreement. If I got my graduate degree and didn’t go back to China, I would be kicked out of the party. I didn’t care about that. Then, they would send my personnel file on to Chengdu.

That means I could never even go back to Shanghai, because I would lose my legal residence in the best city in China, the most wealthy international city. That was tough, because that meant I had to make it in America. Otherwise, I would have to go back to Chengdu or somewhere else. So, I came here and said, “Okay, I don’t care how poor I am. I will figure out how to pay my bills, how to learn English, and how to get my masters degree. I will do my best and learn how to stay here.” If you look at the photo of when I first arrived in America at the Austin, Texas airport, I had a big smile on my face.

Mr. Jekielek:

That’s an incredible story. It’s really an incredible story. Let’s switch gears now. You’re running in the Republican primary for a Congressional seat in New Hampshire. So clearly, you’re someone that has made it along the way. You’ve been vocal about some very disturbing trends that remind you of what you saw in China, what you have experienced, and even some of the same thought processes. Please tell us about this.   

Ms. Williams:

First of all, it took me 20 years in America to get rid of my indoctrinated mind. I did not come here to run for office. I did not come here to get involved in politics. I just wanted to come here for freedom and to have a better life. Everybody, please just leave me alone. I learned English, and I got my degree. I met my husband on the first night. We dated and we got married. We raised three wonderful children. I worked for corporations. I got laid off, and then I started my own business.  For 20 years I was busy just living like a typical immigrant, who came here with nothing, and who had to start all over again at the age of 24. So, I wasn’t political. I do not even understand politics. When I woke up in 2008, I noticed some things. There’s something going on in America that I really don’t like. How come government is getting bigger and more intrusive?

They’re also using some terms that seem like communist terms, especially when Obama become president. He said, “We have to fundamentally transform America.” Into what country? I came here for America, but they want to transform it. I noticed socialist policies. Today, everybody is talking about equity. How can you have equity or equal outcomes without the use of government force to re-distribute the wealth? How do they do that? Why is everybody from corporations, to universities, to high schools, to our federal agencies, and even our military proudly promoting the word equity? It’s called DEI, but equity is in the middle.

I have been educating students as a Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation speaker for five years. I have noticed that our educational system has not really taught our kids history, the horror of communism, and the evils of socialism. Our kids just don’t know history. Maybe that’s why they want equity and they want the socialist policies. They want the free college, free healthcare, and free childcare. They want everything free, because they feel entitled to it. It’s a human right. What’s going on in this country? What are they learning in the classrooms? And even our teachers don’t know history. Our teachers don’t even know about what Mao did to the Chinese people, and how many people died under communism in China. They have no idea. They know a lot more about the Nazis in Germany during WWll, but not much about China. In the last two years, I got even more and more terrified.

I see this rise of authoritarianism. We have politicians that want to be tyrants. They want to shut you down. They want to force your business to close in the name of pandemic, and then mandate vaccines and masks. If you don’t comply, you can lose your job and your career. Your business is not essential. You will get a fine if you want to cut people’s hair. Our schools were shutting down. Churches were shut down. I came here for the constitutional rights of every citizen. How come they’re doing this? I saw the toppling down of statues, the changing of names on buildings and schools, and burning and looting. The BLM founder said, “We are trained Marxists.” In Chicago last year, I heard people chanting, “The real solution is a communist revolution.” You can see Antifa marching with all the Soviet Union flags, and they carry big posters of Mao and Karl Marx.

I really feel like I’m living through another cultural revolution. Critical race theory demonizes so many people in our country. For what? For being born white and for something you cannot control. America is supposed to be a systemic racist country, just like what the Chinese government will tell me, and will tell their people. But actually, CRT is being taught all over this country right now. Teachers unions want to teach critical race theory in all public school districts. It’s identity politics, like the five red classes and the five black classes under Mao. Now it’s called oppressors versus oppressed. But to me, I have heard this all before. People might not know, but I see the writing on the wall. I see this trend. We are using identity politics to divide citizens and get our citizens to fight each other, instead of being united with each other to solve our country’s problems. I see families were not talking to each other during the shutdown. They would even report their neighbors for having parties in their homes, because they were violating the restrictions.

I thought I was having PTSD. I would literally wake up in the middle of night. That’s why I started to dig into my childhood memories of Mao’s cultural revolution. What is going on? How come this is like the cultural revolution all over again?

Mr. Jekielek:

People will say, “During the cultural revolution, tens of millions of people died. They were killed and died of starvation. That’s not happening here. That’s not the cultural revolution.”

Ms. Williams:

But they will destroy the “Four Olds,” just like the communists did in China. That’s why we have to hold on to our second amendment rights. We need to exercise our free speech right now. We can’t be silent and afraid to lose our jobs, careers, and businesses. Because if you don’t push back, who will? Who is there to defend our liberty and free speech, protect our children, and unite the country? We don’t want the socialist people and the tyrants to destroy America. What they did during Covid is mind boggling. Do we still have a free world? Why are Western democratic countries copying communist parties tactics and shutdown methods, and trusting their official numbers? In our country, they’re cancelling people on social media because they are not politically correct.

If you said or did something 20 years ago, they want to cancel you today. That’s exactly what happened under Mao’s Cultural Revolution. They can find something you wrote, or something you said many years ago. Then, they can demonize you as the oppressor, as the black class. You lose your job. You go to camps. You go to struggle sessions. Have you seen the struggle sessions in America today? It is called “less-whiteness training.” 

I have a friend in New Hampshire who just got fired because he is a white male in a private school. He refused to go to this CRT training. He was supposed to examine himself and say, “I’m white, and maybe I have a hidden bias. I am inherently racist.” He’s supposed to go with the flow. He said, “No, I have nothing to apologize for. I was born this way. Everyone is born equal in our country, according to the Declaration of Independence. We should not judge people by skin color and by race.” But that’s what they want to do every day. So what is the difference? Chinese were divided by classes, by their political opinions, and by their economic status. Here, it’s by skin color and race.

Mr. Jekielek:

And by their history, correct?

Ms. Williams:

Yes. By their history. So, why should people be demonized by their history because they are born white? You cannot control that. You are randomly born into your white family, you cannot control that. To be demonized for what you said and did a long time ago as a child, teenager, or young man is not right. Everybody deserves a second chance. We should reduce racism in this country like we did during civil rights movement, by talking about unity, and talking about not judging people. Like Dr. King said, “Judge people on their character and their merit, but not by their skin color.” We’re actually doing just the opposite. The radical Left is focused on everything being racist. Math is racist in public schools. The advanced placement classes are getting canceled, because they are racist.

The children of aging, white Americans of higher economic status are being discriminated against in the college enrollment process by Harvard and by Yale, because there are too many of them. We need to have quotas for somebody who is more oppressed and who has darker skin color. If you are white, you can can be canceled. Cancelling individual merit and meritocracy is also what Mao did during his cultural revolution.

Mr. Jekielek:

So basically, you’re seeing that anything and everything can be sacrificed in the name of creating this equality of outcome.

Ms. Williams:

It is also called equity.

Mr. Jekielek:

And that is what you saw?

Ms. Williams:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

In communist China?

Ms. Williams:

This identity politics is a very typical communist tactic to divide people and get them to fight each other. That’s how you do a cultural revolution. Look at what they are trying to do. America is a systemic racist country. So, what do you want to replace it with? Should we destroy all the old American traditions, values, and institutions? They were making threats to Supreme Court justices. Judicial independence, separation of powers, and rule of law are American traditions, guaranteed by our Constitution. Why should we change that? And replace it with what? It is true democracy, and you want to replace all that? I don’t think so. That is dangerous. We are a constitutional republic. Technically, our country is not really a democracy. It is a constitutional republic, which means you have separation of power, and you can elect representatives  and senators. The president has his job in the  executive branch. The Supreme Court and the other courts have their jobs.

Judicial independence is very important in protecting people’s natural rights. But now they don’t respect that. They will say all the people like us are a threat to democracy. But who are the ones who are attacking our fundamental democratic process? That process is sometimes decided by our independent judiciary. Do those people understand our constitutional republic, or are they just brainwashed? Are the young people, the social justice warriors, just brainwashed? They don’t even understand. For example, right now they only talk about women’s rights on abortion. Then, they want to pack the court. Through this recent Supreme Court justice decision on Roe versus Wade, they are going back to states and let the people of each state vote, and decide through their representatives. Don’t you think that’s more democratic? But no, they don’t want to support that. They want nine Supreme Court justices to codify that.

They don’t make sense. Our young people don’t understand history, and don’t even understand our political system. They buy into social media, Left-leaning media, and mainstream media narratives. They don’t come out of their indoctrinated minds to look at alternative media and alternative news sources. They could watch our conversation here today. To me, it is very sad, because it took me 20 years to wake up in this country. I feel it is my duty now to have a conversation like this, tell my stories and get my message out to the whole country. Then our people, especially our young people, can listen to an eyewitness story. Perhaps they will say, “Hey, maybe we don’t want go down this path. Maybe we should have a little bit of independent thinking.” That’s what your big head on your shoulders is for, to think for yourself. If you want to shut people up, then they cannot speak freely, and they cannot think freely. Then, you won’t have solutions by all the smart people in this great country to solve the problems that we face.

Right now, our American dream is under the attack. When you talk about inflation and the gas prices, people are having a hard time. Then, you can also be canceled. Our free speech is under attack. Our children are facing massive indoctrination in schools. I don’t know even where those schools got their curriculums. Is it from all the lefty professors somewhere, and from the teachers unions? Parents have to really protect their kids by exercising parental rights. They have to control what their kids are taught. There’s another thing I want to add. During Mao’s cultural revolution, I was not allowed to dress like a girl, look like a girl, or even to date. If you let your hair down, wore pretty clothes, and put makeup on, you could get into deep trouble in school. Right now, they’re pushing transgender stuff onto our school kids. What you do after you’re 18, and you are an adult is your own business. You can pay for your own surgery. What you want to choose is your own business. I respect that. 

Looking on as a mom of three children, they’re teaching 8 to 9-year-old school kids that it is okay to change their sex forever. In Washington State, they have a bill proposed where a 13-year-old kid can have permanent gender-changing surgery, from boy to girl, or girl to boy, without parental consent. And the insurance company will have to pay for it. What’s going on? Where are the parents? Is that common sense? What if those kids suffer later? Even Bill Maher the liberal said, “When I was eight years old, I wanted to be pirate. I’m glad my parents did not take me seriously and cut one eye out, and make me a pirate.” We need to have some common sense and not push this on children. It’s not age-appropriate. Parents feel like they have no say in what their kids are taught.  That is why Florida’s governor passed a bill called the parental rights bill.

Then, the Left media indoctrinated all their followers and describing it as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”. I never saw that word gay mentioned in the bill. But the people who are not informed and who don’t know the truth are being used. Those young people that are used are like I was, and like my uncle’s generation, the Red Guards. Later, we were sent to countryside and reeducated by peasants. So, you can support this, but then later you will be thrown under the bus. It does not end well, it does not end well at all.

Mr. Jekielek:

One of the hallmarks of communist societies as they progress is that some of the people who are the most fervent supporters very often become the victims of the system. They are the purists, the ones who disagree with the new policy because it isn’t communist enough. That’s something that a lot of people don’t understand.

Ms. Williams:

Yes. Communists are famous for eating their own. I remember there were lots of people at the beginning of the founding of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) who bought into communism and they were so excited. They supported Mao, and they supported the party. Mao sold it to the peasants. “We will take the land from the land owners, and will give to you.” Of course, the peasants loved to hear that, because they were incited to hate their landlords, and to have this entitlement attitude. “I should have some too! Why do you have so many? I have to work for you.” At the beginning, some peasants said, “But my landlord is kind of nice to me. I don’t want to do this.” No, they want to install hatred in your head. They want you to feel very jealous of your rich landlords. That’s the Marxist agenda. The workers have been exploited, so that the rich people can get rich.

So, they supported communism. They all become very active supporters. And guess what? When Mao took over China, he did a land reform. He did kill about one million to two million landowners in the country, and seized their private land. But he did not give it to the peasants. He had a new idea. He change his mind. “For our country and our society to prosper, we need to start people’s communes. The land actually belong to the people, but not to individual peasants.” The land belong to the people, which meant it belonged to the state. It’s a collective concept, but who are the people? People have power. Today in China, they can sell you the land for you to use, and to build, and they make lots of money. What choice did the peasants have? They had no power anymore. Mao didn’t need to rely on them anymore.

Then you see what happened. There was the People’s Commune, the Great Leap Forward, and the 40 million peasants starving to death. They could beg, but you had to beg with your pass. You’re supposed to live where your household registration told you to live. If you went to another village to beg, you could get into trouble. You wouldn’t have the papers to travel. You also see scientists, artists, teachers, and intellectuals all supporting communism for the ideal, and what communism represents. It’s all equality, equity, and take what you need. We are all a big family, and the workers rule all this. And guess what happened to those supporters later on, because they criticized, and not even criticized, but just gave feedback about party policies? Remember, Mao had a campaign called, “Let the 100 flowers bloom.” So he invited the college students and the intellectuals to criticize party policy and give feedback on how the party could improve. The campaign asked them, “How are we doing with governing the new China?”

They did give feedback, because they trusted. But they were put on blacklists and sent to labor camps. My three uncles were urban youth in the Red Guard generation. Mao said, “Time to go to countryside and be reeducated by the peasants,” because they would have become violent with no school to go to. After all the black classes were eliminated, Mao gained absolute power. He purged his political enemies in Beijing. Liu Shaoqi, the president at that time was put under house arrest and lost power. A general told Mao, “The young kids are getting violent, and fighting with each other.” So, Mao send them away to countryside. My uncles went there without even finishing high school, without a diploma. They went there for 10 years. They had to threaten the government with a mass suicide attempt in order to get attention. “We need to go back to our homes in the city, because we are suffering.”

“You promised. You said we would just come to the countryside for a while, then go back to the city.” So finally, they came back. But their parents had to retire in order to give them a job. Otherwise, they would not have a job and could not come back to the city. And if you married a local girl in the countryside, you could not come back, because your household registration now would be in the countryside. So how do those Red Guards feel today? My uncle’s generation are all in their 60s now, with no skills and no education. Some were smart enough to start a business during the economic reforms, made good money and became rich. But lots of them are retired and they don’t have much. They just live on their little retirement income. Lots of them still don’t think correctly. They don’t know the truth. They talk about their past like, “Oh, it was this and that.”

They don’t know what caused it. They just don’t know. My uncle was very, very bitter about it, because he had to go out to the countryside. Out of my three uncles, he was my favorite uncle. He went there at age 17, and came back at age 27. He had to arrange a marriage to marry somebody in the city and he had one child. “What a waste of time,” he said. I witnessed one girl in my courtyard who came home crazy from countryside. All those Red Guards supported Mao. “Yes, my neighbor, Chairman Mao. Yes, let’s go to countryside. We’ll get paid government salaries.” Actually, it was hard labor camps. This one girl went there and came back crazy. She was sick. She was blowing bubbles and her eyes were blank. I saw her. Her mom said, “We don’t know what happened to her. She will no longer go back to the countryside.” There’s a movie called “Xiu, Xiu: The Sent Down Girl.” It talks about a Chengdu girl, just like me. She went to Tibet as part of Mao’s “Down to the Countryside Movement.”  

It was such a tragic story. Such horrible things happened to those little girls and boys. And yes, this is my warning to today’s young people, to the social justice movement, and to the social justice warriors. Please study real history. What really happened to the Red Guards?

Mr. Jekielek:

What is your message to Americans, based on your experiences? You have obviously painted a vivid picture about your concerns. Please spell it out for us.

Ms. Williams:

As an immigrant who came here with nothing, America was the promised land. Today, in my eyes, America is the most exceptional country. I don’t know where else I could go where I could have three home businesses, have financial freedom, have a wonderful family, be successful, and be able to run for U.S. Congress. Tell me another country where I can do this. I don’t want people to focus on America’s imperfections and problems. We do have problems. We’re not perfect, but no country is perfect. Can we just be united as American citizens and come up with solutions? We have lots of brilliant people, brilliant minds, intellectuals, and business people. We can solve our problems, if we just stop this division, and stop these communist tactics. Equity, equity. I don’t want another cultural revolution happening here. I don’t want to live in a socialist country.

China says it went from a communist to a socialist country. But look at what’s happening in today’s China. People are suffering; lockdowns, no freedom, subject to food rationing, they cannot travel, and the social credit system tracks them. I see the writing on the wall. It’s my duty as a new American citizen to warn people and say, “This is wrong. We are going down this path very fast.” There are lots of elected people into U.S. Congress who are socialist, and who push for socialist policies. People support them, because they want the government to take care of them. For me, I have lived in China, and I have lived two years in Hong Kong. It’s too sad to see what happened to Hong Kong. I want people to rely on their own personal responsibility, nuclear families, extended families, local communities and private charities. Do not rely on government, because government actually has a tendency to overgrow and interfere with our daily lives.

When they promise you free stuff, remember, it’s never free. It is always paid for by somebody else. They use their governmental force to tax you, and to redistribute wealth. Now, they’re printing money out of thin air. That is why inflation is so high, and gas prices so high. Their policies are actually destroying our American dream, which to me means freedom and prosperity. My last words to people are, “Let’s be united. Let’s be kind. Let’s be nice to each other and have conversations. If we disagree, let’s disagree respectfully. Then, we can continue with our American way of life. America is the exceptional country. I hope America will stand up for freedom, and for free market capitalism. America is still, as always, the shining city on the hill for freedom lovers all over the world.”

Mr. Jekielek:

Lily Tang Williams, it’s such a pleasure to have you on the show.

Ms. Williams:

It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Mr. Jekielek:

Thank you all for joining Lily Tang Williams and me, on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I’m your host, Jan Jekielek.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

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