Genghis Khan Popular in Mongolia
Genghis Khan is becoming a heroic figure as Mongolian nationalism reasserts itself.
“Genghis Khan wasn’t really a bad guy,” Elbegdorj Tsahkia, the Mongolian prime minister, said with a grin. “He just had bad press.”
He was only half joking. Ever since Mongolia emerged from the Soviet Union’s shadow in the early 1990s, the lore and myth surrounding the khan, the original bad boy of history, have captured the imagination of the country.
A popular and official movement to reassess Genghis Khan’s marauding image is being marshaled by admirers who say he was a truly great, if irascible, ruler. “He is like a god to us,” said Bat-Erdene Batbayar, who also goes by the name Baabar, a historian and adviser to Elbegdorj. “He is the founder of our state, the root of our history. The communists very brutally cut us off from our traditions and history and got us to adopt the ways and views of Western civilization – with a red color of course, but still Western. Now we are becoming Mongols again.”
Too bad for John Kerry that this is just hitting the press now. If only he’d known that “in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan” was a good thing he might be president today.