Cameron Diaz apologized Sunday for carrying a bag with a political slogan that evoked painful memories in Peru.
The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated “Shrek” films visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru’s Andes on Friday carrying an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words “Serve the People” printed in Chinese, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong’s most famous political slogan.
The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some world capitals, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.
“I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have inadvertently offended. The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist in China and I did not realize the potentially hurtful nature of the slogan printed on it,” Diaz said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.
It strikes me as a very sad state of affairs that there is seemingly so little awareness of collectivism’s grim and humbling legacy in the West, to the extent that such accoutrements can be considered hip fashion accessories. (I don’t know what things are like in the rest of the country, but such articles are easily found in San Francisco’s trendiest boutique stores.) No one with a shred of decency would think of heading out the door with a swastika and Nazi party slogan emblazoned on their handbag. Why the difference in sentiment, given especially that the likes of Mao and Stalin made Hitler look like a rank amateur when it came to killing?
Seems like it’s none too soon that we’re finally going to have a memorial in the U.S. to raise awareness of the far too many who perished under totalitarian collectivist regimes over the course of the 20th century (and in some tragically forgotten parts of the world, such as North Korea and ZImbabwe, continue to do so today).