Caleb Maupin, Chinese Concentration Camps, And State Department Propaganda
Over the past several months, I have been obsessed with an internet Communist named Caleb Maupin. A man who is such a Communist, his face is usually red. (Seriously dude, get your blood pressure checked — or put on some sunscreen.)
By far the most noteworthy thing about him, as well as the thing that has gotten him into the most controversy even from his fellow leftists, is his constant apologetics for various socialist nations, such as the USSR, Cuba, and China. Specifically, he has argued that many talking points against China, most notably the Concentration Camps against Uygur Muslims, are actually propaganda created by the elites to start a war with the nation. I should note that I, like Caleb, am a long-time critic of China hawks and have called them out on various lies in the past, but Caleb’s form of journalism is more spotty than informing.
When Foreign Policy published an article with the headline “State Department Lawyers Concluded Insufficient Evidence to Prove Genocide in China,” Caleb went nuts. On 2/21/2021, he sent out three tweets within hours of each other talking about how this proves him correct:
So, is Vaush going to cancel his hero Joe Biden as a “genocide denier?” It looks like his State Department is saying exactly what he compared me to a Nazi for saying during our debate.
Hey @VaushV, Joe Biden State Department says EXACTLY what I said during our debate, we don’t have all the facts. Are they the equivalent of Nazis also?
Everything I said in this exchange with @VaushV is now being said by the US State Department. Yet, when I said it, he compared me to Nazi. Anyone who still listens to Vaush is making a very poor decision. He’s a lying, pro-imperialist hatemonger.
First off, “genocide denier” is a completely neutral term, meaning it can be the correction position assuming the genocide being talked about is not happening. For example, I’m sure Caleb, Vaush, Thought Slime, The Surfs, and everyone else under the sun all deny the Lego Genocide of 1843 — because it’s a genocide I literally just made up to show that sometimes genocide denial can be accurate.
As for the whole “[Vaush’s] hero Joe Biden,” thing, this is a total strawman of Vaush’s positions. Vaush advocated his viewers vote for Joe Biden because, to put it simply, he’s better than Donald Trump. Vaush has never been in denial about Biden’s weaknesses, he supported Bernie Sanders during the primary remember, but when push came to shove he felt four years of Biden were better than a second-term of Donald Trump. (One who did not have to worry about winning re-election, remember, giving him much more freedom to do the most unpopular aspects of his agenda.)
Vaush’s argument was that four-years of Biden are better than four-years of an unaccountable fascist. Although it’s not shocking that Maupin disagreed considering, for a communist, he’s been oddly soft on Trump. This is the same man who praised Donald Trump’s inauguration speech — while sitting next to Aleksandr Dugin, the leader of the National Bolshevik Party of Russia and someone who buddies around with Lauren Southern and Brittany Sellner (formally Brittany Pettibone).
Hey, let’s play a game called “well-known fascist or Aleksandr Dugin”:
What we are against will unite us, while what we are for divides us. Therefore, we should emphasize what we oppose. The common enemy unites us, while the positive values each of us is defending actually divides us.
There are secularised cultures, but at the core of all of them, the spirit of Tradition remains, religious or otherwise.
The path that humanity entered upon in the modern era led precisely to liberalism and to the repudiation of God, tradition, community, ethnicity, empires, and kingdoms. Such a path is tread entirely logically: having decided to liberate itself from everything that keeps man in check, the man of the modern era reached his logical apogee: before our eyes, he is liberated from himself. The logic of world liberalism and globalization pulls us into the abyss of postmodern dissolution and virtuality. Our youth already have one foot in it: the codes of liberal globalism are effectively introduced on an unconscious level — through habits, commercials, glamour, technology, the media, celebrities. The usual phenomenon now is the loss of identity, and already not simply an only national or cultural identity, but even sexual, and soon enough even human identity.
Actually, all of these quotes are from Aleksandr Dugin.
Also, I love how all of a sudden the State Department is the highest beacon of truth. Maupin has previously called socialists he doesn’t like “State Department Socialists” specifically to argue that they follow the United States empire. Here are two tweets from him on 12/20/2020:
The thing you must remember about State Department Socialists is this: They don’t want things to actually change. It will put their gig as capitalism’s self-appointed opposition into question.
The funniest thing about State Department Socialists in 2020 is that like 50% of them think they are somehow “Anarchists” while they act as foot-soldiers for the Silicon Valley Monopolists and persecute genuine anti-imperialists.
However, Maupin seems to have not even read the article he cited. Here’s a snippet that might show that this is slightly more complicated than Caleb lets on:
There is little dispute within the U.S. government that China’s treatment of the Uighur population has been horrific and criminal: More than 1 million Uighurs have been detained in reeducation camps, and many have reportedly been subjected to forced labor and sterilization. China has committed numerous crimes listed in the convention as acts of genocide, including the prevention of births and infliction of bodily or mental harm on members of a group and the compulsory separation of children from their communities, according to human rights groups.
But there remains questions over whether that conduct meets the extraordinarily high threshold required to prosecute the crime of genocide.
Basically, China is committing a human-rights atrocity against the Uygur Muslims, however, the specific claim made by then-Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo that this counts as genocide could not be proven. It should also be noted that the article never says genocide is not occurring, but instead that there is simply not enough evidence at this time to prove they meet the dictionary definition of genocide.
This is actually a common question among historians, because the definition of “genocide” is much more complicated than most people realize. Here is the definition of genocide from Google:
the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group
Now obviously this would make something like the Holocaust a genocide, but very few historical events are that black-and-white. For example, despite this killing roughly ten times as many people, Mao’s Cultural Revolution would not count as a genocide because there’s no evidence the killing was deliberate. Historians have also debated rather events like the various massive deaths of Native Americans in the United States were genocides, as many of these events have questions regarding how deliberate they were and if the goal was to destroy Native Americans as a whole.
So where do China’s concentration camps fall? Well, we have no evidence that there’s deliberate killing of Muslims in China, but we do have evidence the Chinese government wants to destroy Muslim culture. We know this because they openly brag about, such as in this tweet by the Chinese Embassy Twitter account:
Study shows that in the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uygur women in Xinjiang were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines. They are more confident and independent.
There are other things, such as this whole thing starting after massive anti-Muslim bigotry in China. The fact that the Chinese government specifically keeps an eye on people who engage in “extremist actions” — one of these actions being quitting drinking alcohol. The fact that the Chinese government is already an aggressively state-atheist government that has shown little interest in human rights in the past. If this is all one big lie against China, China should really have not done everything possible to make the lie so believable.
Now, has Caleb made a point that nuanced argument about Uygur concentration camps? Well, why don’t we listen to him talk on the topic:
There are a lot of forces that are talking about what’s going on with the Uygurs in China. And a lot of what they’re saying cannot be confirmed. . . Dig a little deeper, and the only source is some think tank or some institute or some policy source that’s linked to Saudi Arabia. We’re seeing a lot of personal accounts from people — people saying I was here and I saw this and they’re all over western media making their claim, and you look a little deeper these people are just people who are anti-China activists who have an axe to grind.
I don’t hear a nuanced point about the definition of genocide, I hear a man actively looking for excuses to deny anything bad is happening in China.
I should note his case for denialism is basically just an ad-hominem on these people, or an attack on the people and not the arguments. Maybe it is true that the people saying this are think tanks, institutes, policy sources linked to Saudi Arabia, or anti-China activists with an ax to grind — that wouldn’t prove any of these claims wrong. Especially regarding his last ad-hominem, that these people are just “anti-China activists who have an ax to grind,” because many of them have an ax to grind because they’re Uygur Muslims who have been imprisoned — Caleb even mentions that many of the accounts about the concentration camps are first hand, remember.
As for his claims against Vaush, that one is a bit of a long story. Basically, on 5/27/2020 Maupin debated left-wing Libertarian Socialist YouTuber Vaush on the subject of Tankies and their place on the left. During the debate, the subject of these camps were brought up, and Maupin engaged in apologetics that Vaush compared to the claims made by Holocaust Deniers.
Here is a transcript of that section of their debate:
Maupin: As far as the Uygur stuff, is China doing wrong things in those regions? Possibly, but you’ll have to remember that so many of the things that have been going around on social media on that have been debunked. I mean there was a video going around —
Maupin: — purporting to show police beating a man for owning a Quran, turns out it was from Indeosha.
For the record, I tried to fact-check this claim — and he was right that this specific video was a hoax. However, I was also able to find stories of a man being arrested in China for teaching the Quran, China re-writing the Quran and the Bible, and the aforementioned spying of Muslims done by China. As we’ll quickly see, this is Maupin’s main tactic: Cherry-pick one or two social media hoaxes and use this as evidence a well-documented event is not happening.
Vaush: oooooooo, do we really to go down this road?
Maupin: CNN —sorry, may I not be interrupted, please.
Vaush: Okay, you do alright.
Maupin: CNN this person was being interviewed and said her child died in a hospital, well turns out her child is alive and the hospital records completely contradict everything she says, that was broadcast on CNN.
For this one, I was unable to find the specific incident he was talking about, so he could very well be right. However, China’s performance of forced abortions and sterizlation, especially as a result of its one-child-policy, later changed to a two-child-policy in 2015, is also extremely well-documented. This includes the fact that several million Chinese residents have no documentation because their parents had to have them in secret or else the child would be aborted.
Maupin: #Stillnoinfo which was this popular hashtag listing people who have been disappeared investigations show that a number of those people couldn’t be identified, however there were a number of those people on that list who had actually never been detained and were still in their homes, right.
The only source that backs Maupin up on this is Global Times, which is not only run by the Chinese Communist Party, but is also widely considered to be a tabloid newspaper. Maupin actually opened the debate by saying that a leftist disavowing a tankie is the same as Fox News asking a Black Lives Matter activist to disavow violence within the movement (which they shouldn’t do?) — which makes it ironic the only source backing him up on this has been called “China’s Fox News.”
Maupin: Now I’m not saying China never did anything wrong but at a time when our government is trying to whip up suspicion and build a case for war, I take what they say with a grain of salt. I know that the war-makers lie . . . I’m just suspicious of some of that.
What Maupin is doing is usually called the part-whole fallacy, or the idea that if you debunk one small thing you debunk an entire narrative. Maupin is looking for small lies (and, by the way, I’m being really generous to him by assuming they’re lies and not just the result of it being hard to get accurate information about what a secretive government is doing half-way around the world) in the mainstream narrative regarding China’s treatment of Uygurs and using that as evidence, not just that the mainstream media sometimes lies (which it does, and on that Caleb and I are in full agreement) but instead, as evidence that a well-documented event is entirely made up.
Vaush pointed out to Maupin that, yes, this same line of logic can be used to deny another well-documented genocide:
Vaush: Oh I know, “flaws in the narrative” [a phrase Caleb had just used in the debate as they were talking over each other] oh I’ve heard that before too. Hey, did you know that when the Soviet-Union originally arrived at the Ashuwitz-Berkinal camp the plack that —
Maupin: Oh I see don’t equate Communism and —
Vaush: Woah Woah slow down there Maupin — did you know that the plack originally suggested that six million when in reality the updated number later said 1.47 million? Did you know that there was an order for a metal door that went into a camp that didn’t actually have any doorframes that could fit it? Seems almost like it could have been bought by another group trying to incriminate them — now look I’m not saying the Nazis didn’t do anything mind you, I’m just saying that there is undeniably a lot of war propaganda following — you know, the World War Two that we should probably examine critically before we — you know before we fully address any of the accusations here.
To say that Vaush was calling Maupin a Nazi during this debate is to clearly argue in bad faith. He was saying that Maupin’s particular argumentive tactic, the part-whole fallacy, can be used on various human rights atrocities as Caleb is using it on the ones China is committing. Maupin can mention a CNN interview where a woman lies, a Holocaust Denier can mention the false claims about bars of soap being made from Jewish fat — some of which were actually shown at the Nuremberg Trials despite them being completely debunked later.
For an understanding of just how well known this tactic is, here is a section from a review of Holocaust Denier David Irving’s infamous 1977 book Hitler’s War, the book which got him on the map as a Holocaust Denier, by the way:
He [Irving] seizes on a small, but dubious particle of ‘evidence’; builds upon it, by private interpretation, a large general conclusion; and then overlooks or re-interprets the more substantial evidence and probability against it. Since this defective method is invariably used to excuse Hitler or the Nazis and to damage their opponents, we may reasonably speak of a consistent bias, unconsciously distorting the evidence
A review of a different Irving book, this time his 1987 book Churchill’s War, points out the same thing:
David Cannadine, director of London’s Institute for Historical Research, has also criticized Irving’s “double standard on evidence.” Reviewing the first volume of Irving’s 1988 book “Churchill’s War,” he accused Irving of “demanding absolute documentary proof to convict the Germans (as when he sought to show that Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust), while relying on circumstantial evidence to condemn the British (as in his account of the Allied bombing of Dresden).”
As does this one from a different 1977 review of Irving’s work:
He [Irving] is too eager to accept authenticity for objectivity, is overly hasty in interpreting superficial diagnoses, and often seems insufficiently interested in complex historical interconnections and in structural problems that transcend the mere recording of historical facts but are essential for their evaluation
In the same light, one can accuse Caleb of a “double standard of evidence.” He’s more than willing to assume the best of China when the evidence says the worst is not happening, but he’s willing to assume the worst of American media when he finds evidence that something is happening.
(This argument kind of caused Maupin to break, I should note, as he spends the remaining quarter-hour of the debate screaming about everything from the mainstream media ignoring the Holocaust, to Horton Hears A Who, to giving us the iconic line “you would have Albert Einstein punched in the face.”)
Maupin also does this small rant about how it was communists “like him” who warned about fascism. While there is some truth to that, and I have even shown admiration to the anti-fascist left, it was not communists “like him.” The biggest critics of fascism were Trotskyists, most notably George Orwell and — well, Leon Trotsky. Maupin identifies as a Tankie, or a supporter of the Soviet Union — the same Soviet Union that formed a pact with Hitler until Hitler turned on him during Operation Barbarossa. Up until that point, the Tankie left in the United States was fairly isolationist, joining in with conservatives and fascist-sympathizers in denouncing any attempts to fight Hitler as “imperialism,” — the American Communist Party even put on a play declaring it such.
Maupin spends much of his debate doing this, sometimes with the example not even being relevant. For example, he constantly points out the Nayirah Testomony from 10/10/1990 as an example of “the imperialists” lying to create war. However, the Nayriah Testomony was not the major reason for the US going after Saddam Hussein, that was the fact that Hussein had attempted to annex Kuwait in hopes of increasing his oil supply — which some might even call an act of imperialism.
Of course, this clever method of reasoning means that Caleb never has to think about things that challenge his views. After all, anything that goes against it must, by definition, be propaganda by the imperialists. This is the same man who, remember, dismissed Thought Slime pointing out that one of his comrades is transphobic by saying that he sometimes agrees with Louis Farrakhan — who is a Holocaust denier who has praised Hitler. In the same video, he goes after Thought Slime for never working a minimum wage job (Thought Slime actually spent a decade working various minimum wage jobs) and goes after him for having “Slime” in his name — because working-class people do not like “Slime.” (The definition of the working class is people who do not want to touch something dirty, who knew?)
As it stands, Maupin can easily be written off as an idiot, but he’s an interesting one. Seeing someone do this level of mental gymnastics in order to defend his favorite nation is definitely an amazing watch. Maupin is a moron, but he sure is a rather fun one to watch.