Tiananmen Square and the U.S.

Tank Man 2

Tank Man waiting to confront tanks – look carefully. Photo Terril Yue Jones

Reading time – 62 seconds  .  .  . 

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars published a stunning article by Terril Yue Jones, Associated Press correspondent in China in 1989, entitled Tiananmen Square at 25 that has a shocking message for us as we continue down our slippery slope from one person, one vote.

By now you’ve heard the reports of the complete vanishing of information from the Chinese people of the protests for reform by hundreds of thousands of Chinese in their April through June, 1989 demonstrations. Those born since that time have no knowledge that anything happened then. The Communist leaders want it that way so that they stay in power. (Funny how people in power will do amazing things to stay in power.)

In addition to censoring all information about the events in Tiananmen Square, the government made certain it would retain control by buying off the people with the opportunity for upward mobility – things like an apartment or a car – and the ever-present threat of harm.

Jones reported a conversation he had just a few years ago with a worker from Hunan province about the 1989 events in Tiananmen, who told him, “If I don’t steal, swindle or kill, no one will bother me.” Jones commented,

“It’s that kind of disinterested focus on self that Chinese authorities have very effectively fostered in the years since the uprising at Tiananmen Square. Yes, the economic and social improvements for which workers, teachers and other citizens agitated in 1989 — from increased salaries and home ownership to social and economic rights — have largely been accomplished, giving rise to a massive middle class. But it’s those masses in the middle class and below who see the yawning wealth gap between themselves and China’s legions of millionaires.”

How eerily similar that sounds to America today.

Americans are afraid of losing whatever they have been able to retain and so keep their heads down to avoid harm. As a result we have that same “yawning wealth gap” between we the people and the Big Money controllers of our country.

One can’t help but wonder how bad will things have to become for people – millions of Americans – to stand up and, like Howard Beale in the movie Network, say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Perhaps it will require an American Tank Man.


Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to do the same.  Thanks.  JA

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2 Responses to Tiananmen Square and the U.S.
  1. Edmund Sass Reply

    Perhaps all it will take is another Republican President like George W. Bush to push through a couple of more tax cuts for millionaires. That would certainly get my attention.

  2. Joni LIndgren Reply

    Income inequality is not someone else’s problem. Nearly all of us are a paycheck away from experiencing it and here is why: the incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% in the three years after the financial crisis of 2007-2008, while the other 99% grew their incomes by 0.4% during that same time period.
    The goal of the “elite” and corporations is to keep workers weak and scared. If workers are scared, they will not “rock the boat” by joining unions or rallying against the establishment. Defeating unions and keeping jobs scarce both contribute to that end goal!

    It’s a sad commentary against our new world order when 1/4-1/3 of the biggest corporations do not pay ANY income taxes!! AND…the amount of money U.S. corporations are holding off-shore is over $2 Trillion! Additionally, corporations that set up their headquarters overseas do NOT have to pay any taxes either.

    The Republican Party, the mouth piece of the Koch brothers, are driving this country right into the ground!

    There are a number of European countries that honor workers by having unions and limit the salaries of CEOs. We are the only industrialized country without a universal health care system and I haven’t heard any European complain!

    Last night, I and a few others went to Evanston to hear Bernie Sanders. He said that he is helping to draft a bill to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon and should be ready for a vote in the fall of 2014. You can bet the Republicans will not vote for it!!

    He said we have to stay engaged and do what we can to get the message out to everyone and to get them out to vote for the party of reason and for the people.