Is it weird I was stopped in my tracks by the Cultural Revolution yogurt on display at Whole Foods? Yeah, I get it, yogurt, “culture,” but really — is that gag so funny that it’s worth hitching your brand to a decade-long frenzy of politically-inspired beatings, internal exiles, and killings, from which China is still recovering? It’s hard to imagine going to Whole Foods and finding Ethnic Cleansing shampoo. Or “Final Solution: the last contact lens cleaner you’ll ever need.”
Maybe I’m extra-sensitive because I just finished college roommate (and former WashPost Beijing bureau chief) Phil Pan’s Out of Mao’s Shadow. It’s the perfect book to read while you ingest facefuls of Olympic agitprop about new, free, sunny China. Among other things, Phil reports on the Party’s attempts to suppress the memory of the Cultural Revolution, razing the victims’ cemeteries and blanking the whole period out of newspapers and schoolbooks. If only they’d thought of selling yogurt with it instead!