“Bethune’s fame”, the Stewarts conclude, “is largely the result of one historical event – the ultimate victory of the Chinese communists over the Guodmindang in the Chinese civil war. Had that not occurred, his life would be a footnote…” His deeds have been immortalized for political purposes, first by the government of China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, then by the government of Canada in the 1970s as it tried to suck up to China and the Chinese. The campaign to celebrate Bethune largely succeeded.
Norman Bethune’s brief moment of success in a life of failure hardly compares to the achievements of countless physicians, from country practitioners and laboratory researchers through skilled surgeons through the thousands of Christian medical missionaries who first brought Western medicine to China. These are among the everyday heroes of real medicine...And yet Canadian schoolkids are still taught about this "legendary hero" (there's even a Toronto public high school that bears his name, for heaven's sake), and taxpayers pay a whack of cash every year to maintain the fiction--the fraud--that the old sot is someone worth heroizing.
Begging the question: How dumb are we?