Being Honest about Tiananmen Square

Newt Gingrich talks about China and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989:

The 30th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square is a good time to face the truth about the Chinese communist totalitarian dictatorship. The real lesson is one almost no one wants to think about.

My analysis of this event is influenced by my work on a new book on China that will come out in October, a podcast episode we recently released, and reading two books on the cost of ignoring fascist dictators in the 1930s.

Let me explain my thinking about the key lesson from 1989 by taking you back to the 1930s and 1940s.

Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year is a haunting memoir of a political prisoner in Fascist Italy who is exiled to an extraordinarily poor town in Southern Italy. It is worth reading on its own right because it is the opposite of the idyllic, romantic vision of Under the Tuscan Sun. Levi’s fascist dictatorship is horrifyingly dehumanizing, corrupt, and brutal. The peasants are repressed and impoverished to a point where they have no hope, only endurance.

Equally pertinent to thinking about the Tiananmen massacre is Lynne Olson’s amazing biography Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler. Olson captures in agonizing detail the human cost of resisting the Nazis, the viciousness and brutality of the Germans during World War II, and the heartrending stories of men and women torn from their homes, their loved ones, and their lives.

President Trump’s visit to Normandy to pay tribute to those who landed 75 years ago is a reminder of the price Americans and the Allies paid to defeat and destroy the Nazi dictatorship.

What does this have to do with Tiananmen Square you might ask. The answer is: Everything.

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