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`Cultural Revolution` in US shows divide between fringe and mainstream: expert

2017-08-18

Source: Global Times    Published: 2017-8-17


Chinese citizens said the US is experiencing a similar social turmoil to China during its Cultural Revolution (1966-76), following violent demonstrations involving white supremacists and the dismantling of controversial statues.


Undeterred by the Virginia rally that started with a march by white nationalists outraged by the city`s decision to remove symbols of its Confederate past, municipal officials in cities across the US said they would step up efforts to dismantle such monuments from public spaces.


On Tuesday, a statue of a Confederate soldier was brought crashing to the ground by a group of protesters in North Carolina who chanted, "No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA," the Guardian reported.


Moreover, red graffiti, which appears to contain an expletive, were found on a column in the Lincoln Memorial early Tuesday morning. The graffiti was hard to make out, the Nation Park Service said, but seemed to say "f**k law," the Washington Post reported.


Many Chinese netizens said that the vigorous removal of statues reminded them of the "smashing the four olds" during the Cultural Revolution.


The "four olds" refers to old ideology, old culture, old habits and old customs. At that time, people across China, especially high school students, were encouraged to search houses and confiscate art and literature works that were not in line with Communist ideology. Temples, historical sites, statues, and schools were destroyed during the chaos. Statistics show that up to 10 million houses were searched and confiscated in the early stages, including 114,000 in Beijing.


Some netizens cited other examples to try to show the similarities between the current US situation and China`s Cultural Revolution.  


For instance, they consider a senior Google software engineer who was fired for authoring a 10-page memo condemning the company`s diversity efforts, a victim of "literary inquisition" - a reference to the persecution of intellectuals in history in China for their writings.


The netizens also said the protest against far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, in which demonstrators smashed windows at banks and at Starbucks, engaged in fights and held banners with his name, reminded many Chinese of the fanaticism in the Cultural Revolution.


The Federalist`s senior correspondent John Daniel Davidson told Fox News on Tuesday that "not just tearing down statues but digging up remains, removing them, bulldozing over cemeteries - this iconoclastic impulse is native to the Left. This is what China`s Cultural Revolution was all about. If you want to see where tearing down statues by mobs will get you, look at pictures of China`s Cultural Revolution where they tore down statues, temples."


"On the surface, the protests and riots are very similar to the chaos during the Cultural Revolution. Deep inside, the statue is one of the symbols of American history and has become the focus of the conflict between fringe groups and mainstream American values. The fringe groups hope to gain a greater status during the presidency of Donald Trump," Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, told the Global Times.


Zhang Yiwu is a senior fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial studies at Renmin University of China (RDCY).

Key Words: US  cultural revolution  China  Zhang Yiwu  

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