October 1st, 2009 at 07:28pm
That’s the question on the lips of many New Yorkers right now as the Empire State Building was bathed in red and yellow light, in honour of the 60th anniversary of China’s communist revolution overnight, US time.
The Empire State Building shone in red and yellow lights over New York City on Wednesday night to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the bloody communist takeover.
The building’s managers say they have honored a host of countries, including Canada, India and Australia, but as of Wednesday that list of honorees now includes one of the world’s last great authoritarian regimes.
Tourists were squirming as the city’s 102-story landmark — which gained a special significance for New Yorker’s after 9/11, when it again became Manhattan’s tallest building — was being converted into a shining red beacon for Chinese communism.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” said Dick Paasch, 69, from Billings, Montana. “The Chinese Revolution … in the years 1958-1960, there were something like 26 million people starved to death. Why would we want to celebrate something like that?
“I think the Chinese have come a long way since then, but I certainly wouldn’t celebrate the revolution,” he said.
New York politicians have paid notice as well, and say they are let down by the light-up. Rep. Anthony Weiner, [Democrat – New York], said it was a mistake to pay tribute to what he called “a nation with a shameful history on human rights.”
Historians of the revolution noted the unimaginable — and often forgotten — toll of the revolution and China’s communist rule, which has taken tens of millions of lives through years of war, famine, reeducation and wholesale slaughter.
“China gets treatment that other dictatorships can only dream of — a free pass on human rights,” said Arthur Waldron, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
The revolution and its aftermath may have been deadlier than any world war: though estimates vary, research from the historian Chang Jung shows that as many as 72 million people died as a result.
I was thinking much the same thing when Seven News covered the celebrations in China, with gushing praise for its choreography. Sure, cover the celebrations, but how can you claim to have a balanced news service if you’re going to praise one of the most lethal events in the planet’s history, without explaining the death toll properly? If the communist revolution had happened last year, then you could get away with briefly mentioning the death toll as it would still be fairly fresh in viewers’ minds, but a deadly event which happened sixty years ago needs much better coverage than what it was given.
As for the people responsible for colouring the building in this manner…where does free speech end and treason begin? Clearly it’s further along than this, but it couldn’t be much further along.
At the very least, this has rekindled passionate discussion of why we shouldn’t celebrate China’s dreadful communist history when it comes to its horrid human rights record.
Image credit: The Associated Press