Tiananmen at 30: The Struggle Continues

Tiananmen at 30: The Struggle Continues

June 04, 2019

"We expected some bloodshed -- to be hit by police batons, perhaps. That's what we expected. Live ammunition? No. Never." Wu'er Kaixi is one of the lucky ones. After 30 years, he can still look at what happened in Tiananmen Square from a distance -- not from behind prison bars, where hundreds wasted away -- or through the eyes of family, who lost everything. "I am the survivor of a massacre," the former student leader says quietly. "I have to live with the guilt."

In Taiwan, where he fled during the government's manhunt, Wu'er tells reporters he never dreamed their protests would lead to such unspeakable horrors. For weeks, millions of Chinese people had converged on the square to call for democracy. Those hopes came crashing down on one dark and terrifying night when a convoy of troops entered Beijing with the order to end the demonstration with whatever means necessary.

Innocent civilians tried desperately to form a human blockade around the students, but they were mowed down. Men in uniform opened fire on the crowd, while students, workers, and ordinary people fought back. They tried setting fire to the military vehicles, but nothing seemed to hold the Chinese troops back. "I saw a few students were trying to climb over the fence and evacuate from the square, and a tank went straight there and crushed them to death," Dong Shengkun remembers. Others drove over protestors who weren't even armed. Dead bodies lay motionless in the streets.

At the emergency rooms, doctors couldn't keep up with the bodies. "The floor of the ER was covered by blood," Wu'er could tell from his own bed, "so the casualty must be very high. In the hospital, you can smell the blood. You can see the people are dying next to you." Not that anyone would know this from Chinese memoires or television tributes. To try to bury the story, the government rounded up the protestors that survived and put them in prison. Elsewhere, the mentions of the slaughter have all but vanished from the country's media.

Even now, fathers like Dong try not to speak about that horrible day. They worry their children will be targets -- or worse, become protestors themselves. "It is for his safety," Dong insists. "I worry that I might influence his thoughts if I started chatting to him about those things." That's the fear, another survivor explains, "that the regime has brought to everybody."

Today, the tanks have been replaced by tourists, who go to the square to mark the 30th anniversary of one of the worst bloodbaths in modern history. "On the country's internet, monitors will work overtime to delete any mention of [it]," CNN warns, "part of a decades-long government effort to erase memories of Tiananmen. "Anyone who dared in the past to publicly commemorate or even mention the events of summer 1989 was silenced. People who tried to light candles where protesters died along Changan Avenue or near Tiananmen Square were arrested. Former protesters who had experienced June 4 and tried to speak to media about it were stopped, warned, and monitored by the police. Soon, people stopped talking and started forgetting. According to Dong, they did it for their own good."

But the world did not forget. On today's anniversary, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had harsh words for the communist government, who, even today, defends the killings of hundreds -- if not thousands -- of their own people as the "correct policy." It was, the state-run newspaper Global Times wrote, a "vaccination" against future "political turmoil." Here in America, Pompeo insists, we honor the heroes of that brave movement who fought for democracy, human rights, and an end to the violence still haunting China today.

In the decades that followed that dark 1989 day, there was hope, Secretary Pompeo explains, that "integration into the international system would lead to a more open, tolerant society. Those hopes have been dashed. China's one-party state tolerates no dissent and abuses human rights whenever it serves its interests."

"Today, Chinese citizens have been subjected to a new wave of abuses, especially in Xinjiang, where the Communist Party leadership is methodically attempting to strangle Uighur culture and stamp out the Islamic faith, including through the detention of more than one million members of Muslim minority groups. Even as the party builds a powerful surveillance state, ordinary Chinese citizens continue to seek to exercise their human rights, organize independent unions, pursue justice through the legal system, and simply express their views, for which many are punished, jailed, and even tortured."

Christians, Nina Fea and Bob Fu warn in the Wall Street Journal, fare no better. Pastors and other believers are being arrested at record numbers. Registered churches have been shut down or driven underground. Crosses and other religious symbols are being torn down and replaced with pictures of President Xi Jinping.

The Chinese government will never succeed in burying the legacy of that day, because it lives on. It thrives inside the barbed wire fences of the Uyghur internment camps or the dank cells of the Falun Gong. It rears its ugly head in the internet blackouts, the boarded-up churches, and the children snatched away from religious parents. As Secretary Pompeo pointed out, China's own constitution says all power belongs to the people. But they are little more than words on paper as power is just one of many things denied the Chinese people by their communist government.

For more on the Tiananmen anniversary, check out this new post from FRC's Arielle Del Turco.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Hollywood Previews New Plan on Abortion

June 04, 2019

Walking away from their honey of a deal in Georgia is turning out to be too much of a headache for some Hollywood executives. So, producer Peter Chernin is taking on a new role -- as a liberal fundraiser.

In a private email to some industry giants, Chernin tells the group -- which includes Apple's Tim Cook and Amazon's Jeff Bezos -- that if they want to do something, they don't necessarily have to pull up stakes from the south. "As a friend and colleague in the film and TV industry, I write to you with a sense of urgency about the recent attempts to eliminate the right to abortion in Georgia and many other states across the country," the New York Times quotes him. "I am launching a campaign to contribute to the $15 million that is needed to fund the ACLU's legal efforts to battle the national anti-abortion movement with a deadline of July 1."

For filmmakers, who've been looking for a way to appease their liberal talent and also keep their productions low budget, the idea is a tempting one. For starters, it gets a lot of these executives off the hook from moving their projects to liberal states, where the taxes and regulations are suffocating. It also saves them the heartburn of negotiating with angry production crews, who've started to revolt over a possible boycott. And then, of course, there's the fact that it's probably a whole lot cheaper for these studios to chip in a few thousand dollars than roll the dice on a new location that could cost them millions.

"Firing workers, most of whom oppose this legislation, does not seem like a just response," Chernin wrote. "Taking action against only Georgia felt like a highly narrow and targeted response to a national battle. Abandoning and isolating parts of the country that we don't agree with strikes me as a dangerous response." He acknowledged companies like Netflix and Disney, who've been threatening a much stronger reaction. "While many of you support a full boycott if the law becomes effective next year, I am taking a more immediate and national approach."

Not so coincidentally, he's also taking an approach that doesn't upset the apple cart of his current projects. With two productions in process in Georgia, the man behind The Greatest Showman, Hidden Figures, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes can't stand the idea of losing the Peach State's incentives. But if he and his friends want to leave the area, conservative Governor Brian Kemp (R) won't miss them. "This is a lot of noise," he told the Savanah Morning News. "If there are some in the entertainment industry who don't want to invest here, there are others who will." Besides, he points out, "There are a fair amount of Georgia citizens who disagree with us giving them money -- through the tax incentives -- to begin with."

In the meantime, other celebrities and industry names are calling on the entertainment industry to fund more pro-abortion campaigns in the south and Midwest. But if that works out as well as it did in Alabama, Tinsel Town can save its breath. Last year, liberal groups pumped money into Dixie, determined to sink the pro-life constitutional referendum. In the end, they outspent conservatives 100:1 and still lost 59-42 percent.

Not everyone sees the world through dollar signs. But the entertainment industry obviously has a hard time understanding: most people's opinions on these issues can't be bought. Unlike Hollywood, Americans don't act for money -- they act out of conviction.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Library Catalogues Complaints over Drag Class

June 04, 2019

At one Ohio library, teens could check out a lot more than books. They could also get the latest in drag queen fashion -- at least until one Republican found out.

Using the excuse of LGBT Pride Month, the Licking County Library in Newark had a lot of events scheduled for kids. A tutorial on drag queen make-up, crafts, and a safe-sex program were just part of the "festivities." When pastors, local parents, and the state family policy council got wind of the town's plans, the complaints started pouring in. Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R) was so surprised he didn't believe it.

In a letter to the Ohio Library Council, he didn't shy away from telling the group what he thought of their "pride celebration." "This isn't about banning books or banning thought or any other red herring argument. This is about right and wrong. This is about being good stewards of the public's money," Householder argued.

"Like you, I am a strong believer in the 1st Amendment and fully support the freedom of speech. And like you, I'm a strong believer in our libraries. But I also believe in common sense. When I was first informed that our public libraries were being used to teach teenage boys how to become drag queens, I thought it was a joke. But the joke is apparently on taxpayers who fund our public libraries... This is a stunningly bizarre breach of the public trust. And it must stop."

Thanks to Speaker Householder and a coalition of angry citizens, it did. The Licking County Library announced this week that organizers would have to find another venue for their indoctrination. Our friends at the Citizens for Community Values cheered the victory. "Speaker Householder said what every Ohioan knows is true in their heart: drag queen training events have no place at our public libraries," Aaron Baer told reporters. "We need to let children be children, and not try to sexualize them. You don't need to be a Bible-believing Christian to recognize that "Drag Queen Story Hours" are not something our taxpayer dollars should be promoting to kids."

Apparently, the Delaware County Library also got the memo, because that branch -- which is nearby -- canceled a similar kids' class ("Drag 101") when members of the community overwhelmed their phone lines. If you think your calls and emails don't make a difference on issues like these, trust me. From a local library to Capitol Hill -- they do!

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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