Thursday, June 4, 2009

"I think never killed."

Let's get the date right. Today, 20 years ago, in Tiananmen Square. A spontaneous groundswell, a great yearning for freedom. Sometimes Asians yearn to be free.

And why not? There is such a thing in the world. We have it. We are an example. A beacon.

It is our heritage.

We are an inspiration.

It was 20 years ago, so I can talk about it. Because words have meaning, and actions have consequences. Because sometimes things don't go according to plan. Sometimes life seems more important than liberty.

Hm. Why are these young men hiding from those soldiers?

A student. He did not live.

A grad student.

It has the rough beauty of skewed symmetry.

When the tanks start rolling.

This is a human body.

This is grief. And courage.

Between 200 and 10,000 killed. Sort of a big margin of error, but it wasn't quite yet the internet age. Well, no matter. If there's one thing the world has plenty of, it's chinamen. If they don't value their own people, why should we.

Maybe I'm young, but I'm sorta sick of all the meaningless governmental protests. We are aware of the situation.... We are concerned.... We are monitoring events.... We are busy feeling up pageboys....

So we have the talkers.

Then we have this young man. This man.

We've seen what tank treads can do.

Let's look at him.
What's that in his hand? A clarinet case?

And this, in his right hand --
--his shopping? No, a jacket.

Let's study him. Because it's not so often that we get to see a hero. Maybe we'll learn something.

Ah. That's what heroes do. Know what he's saying? "Go away. My city is in chaos because of you. Stop killing my people."

Some claim his name is or was Wang Weilin, a student, age 19. Some reports have him as shot within weeks of this event. Some have him hiding in China or Taiwan. When asked of his fate by Barbara Walters in 1990, Jiang Zemin, CCP General Secretary -- that's like what Stalin was -- said, "I think never killed."

Anonymity swallows him like death.

Before the tanks really started to roll, the art students built a 30-foot plaster statue. The Goddess of Democracy.

She needs both hands to carry the torch. Liberty doesn't start out strong.

Those poor naive children. It was ground to rubble by the tanks.

If I had the graphic and computer skills, I would put this picture in the banner of Forgotten Prophets. Forlorn idealists. But I have only words. Like the rest of the world.

Hm. Wasn't there something about Burma in the news a while back? So much bother to try to remember. Ho hum. Maybe I'll have something to say about Burma, in 20 years. If anyone remembers.



bob k. mando said...

thank you for this retrospective.

most of this never made it to the news media. sanitized for our benefit, no doubt.

mustn't upset those without nuance ... they might get stirred up into doing something silly like revoking MFN.

Jack H said...

I still weep for Wang Weilin. Should I be ashamed of that? The name of this blog was going to be "God's Fool" -- but it was taken.


Anonymous said...

There is something about all this which pisses me off.

I shall need to think on that.

Jack H said...

Um, would it be the slaughter of a bunch of idealists? The confusing and seemingly contradictory tone of my prose? The rank emotionality of it all, with the vague suspicion that I've been manipulative?

I have no idea whether or not I'm being manipulative. But all communication is a manipulation. Sincerity? You tell me. Are these kids sincerely dead? Has the world learned anything from their deaths? No. Of course not. What pisses me off is the uselessness of it all. I don't have to think about that at all.