Facists 1, Democracy 0
Yesterday, June 4th, was the thirteenth anniversary of the Tianamen Square massacre
In April 1989, students had begun a prolonged demonstration and sit-in in Tianamen Square after the unexpected death of progressive party secretary Hu Yaobang. Workers, intellectuals, and civil servants join the students to stage a hunger strike and demand democratic reform and an end to official corruption.
Mao Tse Tung had not been merely theorizing in his famous dictum, that 'all power comes from the barrel of a gun
.' On May 19, martial law was proclaimed. On June 4 1989, on the command of Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping, 40,000 members of the 'People's Army' marched into Beijing, and crushed their own people.
What warped and evil 'leaders' were these, to order the murder of the bravest and brightest of their own future? Tanks crushed protestors sleeping in their tents. A BBC report said that, "In Tianamen, one hundred students linked arms and faced the tanks. They were shot down. Then another hundred linked arms, and they were shot down."
Is it prudent, to stand in front of a tank? To us now, perhaps not. China hand Harrison Salisbury, in his 'Tianamen Diary', observed at the time,
"I am amazed by the people. They don't seem to be frightened by the tanks or the firing. Almost as thought they couldn't conceive that the army has chosen them as its target."
The exact casualty count is unknown, but estimates range up to 4,000 dead. Nevertheless the Chinese Government denied the massacre, eventually allowing only that a few counter-revolutionary rebels had been killed when they attacked the loyal People's Liberation Army. The PLA, of course, were just carrying out orders.
The anniversary was entirely ignored by the media and why not, western countries are all making far too much money in and out of China to care. While you're waiting for democracy, why not have a Coke? In a lucky coincidence, June 4th was also the day of China's first FIFA World Cup
appearance, thus distracting both China and the world from memory of the unfortunate incident. ABC radio reported that near Tianamen Square itself, large outdoor TVs had been set up and huge hordes of students had gathered to chant patriotically and cheer the People's Soccer Team.
One Beijing student interviewed about the events of 1989 said, 'I have already forgotten them.' He probably never even knew about them. China was beaten 2 - 0 by little Costa Rica, so there's some justice.
* * * * *
Americans en masse have been completely ignorant of the World Cup
save for occasional bleatings about how unsophisticated and low tech soccer is (although, so is basketball). They were therefore not watching earlier this evening when the US team really fired and unexpectedly beat highly ranked Portugal, thus depriving themselves of one of life's rare and genuine pleasures.
This is when your national team is the rank underdog, but you watch the whole game anyway, bravely hopeful, and - they win! What do you bet, now they've had a scent of 'Win, Win, Win for America!", that there'll be a lot
more American soccer fans tomorrow?
Being the underdog
in any team sport, quite natural to us Australasians in all but a very few things, is of course massively culturally alien to Americans. When you think of it, Americans don't seriously play national team sports with anyone
. American Football is called American football because nobody else plays it. Only Cuba and Japan play baseball, pale imitators. They probably play Canada at Ice Hockey, but that's about it. Basketball? They send that up-themselves prima donna multi-billionaire sponsor's Wet 'Dream Team' to each Olympics and are really pleased when they win! Duh...
You could argue, like Andrew Sullivan
, that America's soccer isolationism is related to her cultural isolationalism. Even Rugby countries that do not play soccer very well, like Australia and New Zealand, watch the World Cup avidly. The actual game can be boring - no arguments there - but the internationalism of the competition is quite neat. Not the big multinational flag-waving, but the endless little things.
The Japanese team includes a naturalized Brazilian. The Polish team includes a naturalized Nigerian. The French team are largely north African. The African team members all play in the European leagues. Western spectators cheer Cameroon and Senegal. All the Asian teams have European coaches, so you hear it said of the Japanese, 'yes, they're playing a typically Dutch game there.' Is all this not honestly more interesting that a bunch of guys from the University of Texas playing gridiron in Texas?