Friday, June 4, 2021

On Tiananmen Square Anniversary Let's Not Forget Former President Trump Supported the Massacre

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.  Let's revisit what happened that day:

The Tiananmen Square protests were student-led demonstrations calling for democracy, free speech and a free press in China. They were halted in a bloody crackdown, known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, by the Chinese government on June 4 and 5, 1989.

Pro-democracy protesters, mostly students, initially marched through Beijing to Tiananmen Square following the death of Hu Yaobang. Hu, a former  Communist Party leader had worked to introduce democratic reform in China. In mourning Hu, the students called for a more open, democratic government. Eventually thousands of people joined the students in Tiananmen Square, with the protest’s numbers increasing to the tens of thousands by mid-May.

At issue was a frustration with the limits on political freedom in the country—given its one-party form of government, with the Communist Party holding sway—and on-going economic troubles. Although China’s government had instituted a number of reforms in the 1980s that established a limited form of capitalism in the country, the poor and working-class Chinese still faced significant challenges, including lack of jobs and increased poverty.


On May 13, a number of the student protesters initiated a hunger strike, which inspired other similar strikes and protests across China. 


[T]he Chinese government declared martial law on May 20 and 250,000 troops entered Beijing.

By the end of May more than one million protesters had gathered in Tiananmen Square. They held daily marches and vigils, and images of the events were transmitted by media organizations to audiences in the United States and Europe.

While the initial presence of the military failed to quell the protests, the Chinese authorities decided to increase their aggression. At 1 a.m. on June 4, Chinese soldiers and police stormed Tiananmen Square, firing live rounds into the crowd.

Although thousands of protesters simply tried to escape, others fought back, stoning the attacking troops and setting fire to military vehicles. Reporters and Western diplomats there that day estimated that hundreds to thousands of protesters were killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and as many as 10,000 were arrested.

At the time, the United States had strongly supported those in China who were risking their lives for freedom and democracy   The protesters in China, after all, were not alone.  Freedom movements were  sweeping across Europe, most particularly in the the Soviet Union and the countries it had dominated since World War II.  Protesters looked at the example of America with its freedom and democracy as something they wanted in their own countries.  

The most moving symbol of these freedom movements was the fall of the Berlin Wall which took place in November 1989, just a few months after the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Fresh out of law school and newly active in local Republican politics, these events defined for me what it meant to be an American.  I greatly admired those who risked their lives for the freedoms we enjoy as part of our birthright, and too often take for granted.  At the time, I was aware of no American arguing the other side -  that these dictator-led governments were right to kill democracy protesters, to continue oppressing their subjects, to continue denying their freedom.   To side with Chinese government officials who slaughtered their own citizens at Tiananmen Square who had dared to demand United States-style freedom, was unheard of.

I was wrong.  There was an American defending the Chinese Communist government's violent suppression of the freedom movement - a failed New York City businessman, Donald J. Trump.

All you need to know about the former President and his disdain for American democracy, the freedoms we Americans enjoy and our Constitution which guarantees those freedoms, is that Trump supported the Tiananmen Square massacre.  To him, the freedom loving protesters were "rioters" and the government was right to take a "strong" approach to shut them up, including killing them.  During a 1990 interview with Playboy Magazine, Trump said:

"When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength."

Those "patriots" who think Trump supports freedom and American democracy are fooling themselves.  

OOP's short takes:

  • Over at one of the conservative websites, I read an article which bashed President Biden for the poor economy.  Huh?  During the first quarter of 2021, the economy grew at rate of 6.4% and today it was reported that the unemployment rate fell again, this time to 5.8%, the lowest since the early days of the pandemic.  Inflation concerns are very legitimate, but it's just a lie that the economy is doing poorly.  Once again, it is the conservative media creating an alternative universe for those who consume the media.
  • It was recently announced that Trump was closing down his blog, no doubt due to a lack of traffic, a fact which was regularly mocked by the media.  What I never understood about the Trump blog was its incredibly poor design.  Did Trump not have anyone around him who could have helped create a more interesting layout, one that would encourage more people to go to the website?
  • Breaking news:  Trump is suspended on Facebook until January 2023.  If Trump can't get reinstated on Facebook, how does he expect to be reinstated as President?  Okay, I stole that joke.

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