With the fateful anniversary just less than two weeks away, it’s not surprising that the sino-blogsphere is filling up with posts about [*TAM*]. It’s difficult not to comment on it. It’s hard to not feel a bit like there is a necessity to address what has now lain silent for two decades.
The tragedy of the silence isn’t that there are truthful whispers in the corners with shifty eyes looking over shoulders. The tragedy is that, as with most history, this moment of history has been rewritten so completely in the coinciousness of those who are owed its truth the most that the silence comes out of a lack of anything to say about it.
The Peking Duck has an insightful post entitled “Memories (or lack of memories?) of [*j4*]“, in which Richard was asked how his Chinese friends were responding to the approaching anniversary:
I spent the next hour or so buttonholing people and calling friends and asking them all the same questions: were they hearing any “buzz” about the impending anniversary? Are their friends talking about it? Have they heard of any plans to commemorate the dead?
The answers were unsurprising. [*j4*] will be a day like any other that will come and go without any particular fanfare. The day is mainly meaningless for them and the event has “been faded from people’s memories,” as one said to me. (I like that used of words, that it’s “been faded,” as though someone had done the fading, not just the passage of time.)
Finally I asked how many of them knew who “Tank Man” was. Out of the 12 or so people I asked, only one – someone who studied in the US – had heard of him. When I asked what images of June 4 they remembered, they said without question it was the photos of burned and/or disemboweled PLA soldiers left hanging by militant protesting workmen.
That’s what the [*TAM*] anniversary is to many, if not most, Chinese. The day when the gov’t was forced to quell a violent domestic rebellion. Not the powerful and peaceful student-led march to political reform that we view it as in the West. That there is such a striking contrast says so much.
The question I’m left with is why? Is it simply that the Party is so heavily weighed down in its own dogma that it is not able to admit fault unless it has been dead more than 30 years, and then only conceding 30%?
Eddie Izzard has a great bit about how we handle blame differently when we are children and when we are adults. As a child we’ll come up with the most impossible lies to deflect blame, including shifting the blame on otherwise innocent bystandards (friends, etc.). However, as we age we understand that accepting responsibility of our faults is not a weakness, but a showing of maturity. A display of strength that illustrates we are not so insecure as to assume our entire identity is tied to a single offence.
Like the litany of shoulder-shrugging questions that fill my head about this country, I may never know why. But if this country has shown the world one thing these past two decades it’s that change can come, and can come quick.
Why 300,000 Printed Newspapers Had To Be Destroyed (05/19/2009) (Gonewater) On May 12, a certain newspaper printed an advertisement with this accompanying photo (which is about representatives from a foundation and a newspaper visiting a school). After almost 300,000 copies were printed, an eagle-eyed person at the printing plant found something. As a result the printed copies were destroyed.
Here’s the answer, for anyone that couldn’t be arsed to squint, crook their head, furrow their brow and figure it out.