Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Goosebumps not included.

I thought the juxtaposition in the following clip, of the never-identified "tank man" from Tiannamen Square, and Mario Savio's famous "machine" speech at Berkeley was, well, perfect. I visited Beijing this past year, and am sad to report that, because China is still a totalitarian state without freedom of speech or press, there is no monument to the massacre that took place in Tiannamen Square. Nor is there any plaque to mark the spot where the still anonymous man bravely stood before the encroaching tank, in fact the tour guides there are forbidden to mention the incident at all. That act still stands as perhaps the most courageous ever to be broadcast, for the world to see, on live television: the ultimate, visually distilled meeting of the individual and the oppressive state. As for Savio, his speech here isn't nearly as famous as it ought to be. It's almost never aired in documentaries covering the civil rights movement, despite being among the most eloquent urgings to political action, in the face of tyranny, one is ever likely to encounter.

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