Tiananmen Square: 10 Years On

Category: World Affairs Topics: Terrorism, Weapon Of Mass Destruction Views: 909
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Possibly the truest weapon of mass destruction being wielded in the world today is that of selective historical memory. By choosing to remember some events (or focusing on only certain aspects of those events) and allowing others to be relegated to footnotes in high school history texts, entire groups of people, entire societies even, are put in a line of fire that they can neither dodge nor defend.

Consider the legacy of Tiananmen Square.

In 1989, a core segment of an up-and-coming generation of Chinese stood up to have their voices heard on the issues of freedom and governance. No doubt the reasons behind their actions were more complex than simply wishing for freedom of speech and freedom of political process. But the core values driving those students were those same altruistic principles so many nations and peoples have espoused as pillars of societal integrity throughout history.

But in 1989, the Chinese authorities crushed those principles along with the flesh and bone of so many bright, promising, idealistic young students.

That sovereign nations use violence and draconian measures to quash opposition to the status quo is nothing new. The Israelis do it to Palestinians on a regular basis. The Serbs have spent the better part of a decade doing it to Muslims. The British had no qualms in doing it to the citizens of Northern Ireland. White South Africans showed no remorse doing it to Blacks. And of course the United States has had its own experiences in doing it to groups such as its indigenous peoples as well as its Black population.

Same tactics; different circumstances; many of the same results.

Invariably these watershed events in the histories of nations get glossed over and turned into sound bites and retrospective headlines. In this way, foolhardy short-sited American conservatives, find themselves striving to end Affirmative Action when it was someone with considerable vision and a longitudinal understanding of history and its effects who recognized that such a program needed to be there in the first place.

In this way, American politicians being pushed by special interest groups find it acceptable to grant China "most favored nation" trading status.

In this way, Jerry Jasinowski of the National Association of Manufacturers can feel good about saying, "Normal trade and economic relations are more critical than ever to maintaining our world economic leadership and expanding our influence in China."

Sure, every nation needs to look out for its own self-interests. But such self-interests cannot be allowed to mask the truth of history or marginalize the struggles and injustices peoples have had to face.

And for those who say, "What does Tiananmen Square have to do with me," say, "It takes one sneeze on the other side of the planet to start an epidemic." And if citizens of the world are not vigilant and retrospective, just like the tiny pathogens responsible for widespread sickness and death, societal viruses too will spread and possibly come knocking at your door.

Remember Tiananmen.

Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com


  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Terrorism, Weapon Of Mass Destruction
Views: 909

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