Eras of History

This is one of the eight books 'banned' by the General Administration of Press and Publications.  Actually, this is not really just 'one' book.  Rather it is a series of five books titled respectively, "Our 1950's," "Our 1960's", "Our 1970's", "Our 1980's" and "Our 1990's."  I have the 1970's and 1980's books, and these were the first printing dated August 2004.  Therefore, it is perplexing as to why a 'ban' should be imposed in early 2007.

The books are collages of the histories of those decades.  As such, there is no overall grand narrative on which political correctness can be judged.  For illustrative purposes, some excerpts are translated below:

The Cheapest Games In The 1970's -- Hide and Seek, Cops and Robbers, Eagles and Chicklets

One day, this author was flipping through the 2003 newspapers and saw a striking headline -- the US Senate Armed Forces Committee warned Iraq not to play "hide and seek."

This leads to the topic here about more than twenty years ago when hide-and-seek was the most popular game among children ... This game can take place anywhere -- schools, cafeteria, outdoors, anywhere.  The rules are simple.  You use stone-papers-and-scissors to select one person who will put a handkerchief over his/her eyes while the others go and hide.  The seeker then removers the handkerchief to seek the others.  You can hide anywhere.  If caught, you have to be punished, such as by singing a song or squat-dance once around.  Sometimes there were remarkably funny conversations: "I'll hide once more.  If you can find me, I'll let you eat the entire big watermelon in my home."  The other child asked, "But what happens if I can't find you?"  The first child replied, "I'll be hiding behind the pear tree over there."

At the time, children have no television to watch, never mind any electronic games.  They had just entered school, so there was not a lot of homework.  On starlit/moonlit nights after dinner, they gulped down their last bite, laid down the rice bowls and they dashed out to the field to play "cops and robbers."  The rules were simple: those present were divided into two groups and then through stone-paper-and-scissors, one group became the cops and the other group were the robbers.  A certain place was designated as the jail.  When the game began, the robbers came out and the cops tried to catch him.  Each caught robber was sent to jail.  The robbers would come to save their fellows.  Some of them completed the rescues, while others got arrested.  When the robbers were all arrested, the game was over and then the two sides switched roles.  Sometimes, the cops tried too hard to catch the robbers and ripped some clothes.  The robbers asked for time-out, took off their shirts and then it became harder to grab their slippery bodies.  The night became darker and then their mothers started calling out to them.  So we had to end the game and bring our tired bodies back to bed.  Meanwhile, we arranged to come back tomorrow night for another round.  As we laid in bed, we can hear the sound of mothers cursing and children crying.  Of course, those voices came from the home of the "robber" whose shirt was torn.

At the time, we were much more civilized at school than now.  We sang revolutionary songs and we wore little red flowers.  Even our school games were refined: "Eagles snatch small chickens."  Usually, it is the fat kindergarten auntie who played the role of "mother hen" while we were the small chickens who clung on to her while we bounced on our little feet and swung side to side.  We took turns playing the eagle until all the small chickens were captured.  At first, the "small chickens" formed a formidable row.  We glared at the eagle and we made taunts.  The smaller girls did not move fast enough and so the eagle concentrated on them first  Although this was supposed to be "friendship first, gamesmanship second," the brutish eagle sometimes ripped up the flowery dress of the small girls and exposed their elbows or shoulders.  So the small girls would blush and retreat into the classroom.  Some of the small chickens were crafty and they would sneak back out into the coop even after they were caught.  Due to the participation of the teachers, this game was somewhat inhibited, much to our regret.  But that female teacher was far too pretty.  Her pretty looks with the white orchid flower over her ear was enough to compensate for our dissatisfaction.

It is inconceivable that the preceding section could have caused anyone to 'ban' it.  If there is a problem with the book, there it should be politically related.  What follows is the description of a major mass incident in the 1970's.

April 5, 1976: The "Tiananmen Incident" 

On April 1, the "Gang of Four" held a meeting of the Beijing municipal public security bureau for the purpose of preventing the masses from delivering wreaths to the late Premier Zhou at the Monument of the People's Hero in Tiananmen Square.  On April 2, the Beijing Heavy Mechanical and Electrical Factory workers brought the first wreath to Tiananmen Square.  The militia, police and guards established a "joint command" center in a three-storey grey building on the southeast corner of Tiananmen Square.  On the night of April 3, someone had turned the poetry written to Premier Zhou into songs, and there was the moving sight of ten thousand people singing.  On April 4, which was the Qingming Festival, the memorial activities reached a peak in Tiananmen Square.  At around 1am-2am on April 5, the wreaths on the square were removed.  During the process, 57 people were stopped and seven were arrested.  At around 6am, more than 30 students of the Beijing 127 Middle School broke through the cordon to place a wreath at the monument.  At around noon, the masses surrounded the joint command center and made three demands: return the wreaths, protect the right of the masses to commemorate Premier Zhou, etc.  There was no answer.  At 12:58, the angry crowd set the vehicle of the commander-in-chief of the joint command center on fire.  At 17:04, the little grey building was set on fire by the masses.  At 18:25, the "broadcast message" was broadcast on Tiananmen Square.  At 21:00, while the "broadcast message" was being broadcast, the masses still left on the square were surrounded and beaten.  More than 200 persons were arrested.  On April 7, the Beijing municipal units distributed the "emergency notice" from the Beijing municipal revolutionary committee: "The Tiananmen incident" was "the single greatest counter-revolutionary activity that occurred after the liberation."

But surely the true gold standard will be about the description of that other Tiananmen incident in the 1980's.

June 3, 1989.  The Martial Law Divisions Entered Beijing By Force To Quell The Disturbance

The chaos that was deliberately manufactured by a very tiny number of invididuals with ulterior motives finally turned into a counter-revolutionary disturbance.  In early morning of June 3, the martial law divisions received orders to proceed to certain locations (including Tiananmen Square) to carry out their duties.  A very small number of rioters lured some people into setting up barricades on street intersections.  They stopped the military vehicles, they assaulted the military soldiers and they looted military equipment.  At noon, a group of rioters surrounded and charged at the Great People's Congress Hall, the Zhongnanhai compound, radio stations, television stations and other national ministries and departments.  That afternoon, the illegal organizations known as the "University Autonomous Association" and "Workers' Autonomous Association" distributed knifes and bayonets to certain people on Tiananmen Square who did not realize the truth.  About 1,000 rioters looted lots of construction material and equipment to prepare for street battles.  They openly called out slogans such as "Grab a weapon and overthrow the government."

The Chinese Communist Central Committee decided to order the martial law divisions to enter Beijing by force in order to quell the disturbance.  At the same time, the Beijing municipal People's Government and the martial law command center used the broadcast channels to ask the citizens to be cautious, to stay home and not go to the Tiananmen area.  At around 10pm that night, the martial law divisions entered the city.  During the process, a small group of violent rioters were vandalizing, looting, burning and killing.  The martial law forces took stern measures to punish that small group of counter-revolutionary rioters.  At around 430am on June 4, the martial law forces and the armed police began to clear out Tiananmen Square.  At 530am, the square was successfully cleared.  During the riots over those several days, more than 6,000 members of the martial law forces, the armed police and the public security officers were injured, with several dozens killed; more than 1,280 military vehicles, police vehicles and public buses were damaged, plus more than 70 other kinds of vehicles.  During the riots, more than 3,000 non-military personnel were injured and more than 200 died, including 36 university students.

So what are the reasons for banning this description?  Could it be that it glorified the counter-revolutionary mob?  That seems hardly to be the case.  If you want to move up one level, then maybe it is because this description will arouse anger from the general public about the mis-representation.  If you want to move up one more level, then maybe it is because this description constitutes post-modernist irony ...