We cannot think about the writings of Chairman Mao without thinking about his ruling obsession with contradictions. For him, contradictions were everywhere. Everything contradicted something, and all of these contradictions were leading up to a final cataclysm. "The life of dialectics is the continuous movement towards opposites. Mankind will finally meet its doom." I failed to watch Spike Lee's movie Miracle at St. Anna without thinking about Chairman Mao's obsession with contradictions.

Yes, the dictator was right: Contradictions are everywhere in society. But out of all of these contradictions, is there one more extreme or more tragic than a black American soldier fighting (risking his life) for the freedom of a country that does not give him any freedom or love? The pre–civil rights black American soldier is the ultimate contradiction. And Spike Lee is well aware of this; he knows that the men in his new film, four black American soldiers in Italy at the end of World War II, are caught in a complex web of contradictions: black Americans in white Europe, black Americans battling racist Germans for their racist American government. And then there are all of those lonely and lovely white ladies in the Italian villages. Good lord, how can a brother keep his head straight in this most trying of situations?

The movie—which is neither here nor there, neither good nor bad, neither fresh nor old, neither Spike Lee's best nor worst—solves these contradictions in much the same way Mao imagined they should be solved: with lots of doom and death.