Re. Roger's Hello Card

Voice Card  -  Volume 8  -  Stuart Card Number 1  -  Sat, Jul 22, 1989 12:40 PM

I couldn't let Roger's hello card pass without responding to his question about the Chinese students. I don't think that their demands were "vague" at all. Greater accountability and representation to and of the people on the part of their country's leaders doesn't seem a vague demand to me. Nor does the demand for a free press and the right to assemble peacefully. Likewise, the demands for better economic conditions, such as greater price stability in a country debilitated by inflation, seems rather specific, as do the demands for better treatment of the country's educational establishment.

I admit, the press has been pretty superficial in its coverage of the student demonstrations, but there have been some accounts that have gone into the situation in some detail. For example, Fred C. Shapiro, writing in THE NEW YORKER, has done an admirable job at illuminating the specifics of the students demands (see the June 5 issue, for example). I have found his coverage of the events unfolding in China to be Illuminating, compassionate, intelligent, and thorough.

The question in your voice card, however, still remains: "Could there be any other result than hard line crackdown when a group of dissidents demand vague drastic government changes that are against the idea of those currently running the government?"

Aside from the fact that it appears that the "government" was divided for a long time as to whether the students' demands were sufficently "against the idea of those. . . running the government" or not, what bothers me most about the question is how it appears to support what the government did. Labeling the students as "Dissidents," for example, and their demands as "vague" and "drastic" seems to suggest a tone of condemnation for the students, a tone that in effect says, "The little bastards had it coming."

I am sorry that you seem to feel that way. I find the government's response to the students obscene and reprehensible.