Some of you reading this today remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 30 years ago when tanks and troops from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) crushed pro-democracy demonstrations. Or you watched coverage of the anniversary of that event this year. 

You’re probably wishing you could have done something about it and maybe vowed things would be different next time. Well, you’re getting our chance right now, as China is poised to do the same thing to pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong protesting arbitrary detention. The question is, what will you do about it?

Like some of you reading this, I watched in horror at what happened to fellow college students. A year later, I was in Berlin breaking off a few chunks of the remainder of the Berlin Wall. But I also visited the graves of those killed trying to cross from East Germany to West Germany, a cruel fate for those who loved freedom a little too much.

I also encountered not only the ugly “Holocaust Deniers” but those who made outrageous claims  the death tolls from Stalin’s Purges, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and China’s Cultural Revolution were exaggerated.

As a LaGrange College professor, I joined the “Victims of Communism” Memorial, so we wouldn’t forget the abuses of Communism as well as the deadly Nazi ideology and their racial superiority. I’ve given a speech for the group and brought Lily Tang Williams, a Cultural Revolution survivor and Colorado Libertarian Senate candidate, to speak to my students.

There’s no shortage of propaganda claiming college students love socialism and communism. I’ve never found a true admirer of either ideology at this college and could count the number of students who support either on fewer than two hands in all educational institutions I have been at. These students love to shop and beg me for references for private sector jobs. They want equality of opportunity and a few wish we were more like those West European countries rated by Forbes magazine as among the best “to do business in.”

Meanwhile, the real communists in China are threatening to flatten Hong Kong demonstrators who wave American flags and want the freedom we often take for granted. I’ve been initially disappointed in President Donald Trump, who has used the Communist regime’s language of “rioters” to describe Hong Kong protesters. But now he may be backing away from his pro-China position.

I sent a letter begging the Victims of Communism Memorial to support the people of Hong Kong. Whether it was my email that did it or not, executive director Marion Smith penned a column in USA Today, standing up for Hong Kong.

Given how some conservatives on Twitter criticized the editor of the conservative National Review for doing the same, that wasn’t easy for VOC to do.

The question is what will you do? When your kids ask you decades from now what you did, will you admit you did nothing and watched history repeat itself? Or will you tell them you contacted your elected officials, pressured Congress to take a stand and watched the Chinese tanks recede into the background, as Hong Kong’s leaders who support such renditions resign, giving the island a taste of freedom? The choice is yours.

 

 

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in Georgia. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is @JohnTures2.