I’m watching coverage of the shooting on the Seattle Pacific University Campus right now. Here’s an initial report.
Yesterday was the anniversary of 六四, which we often used to refer to as the Tian’anmen Massacre, referring to the violent repression of a student and popular uprising in China back in 1989. I remember that I was a junior in high school at the time. My family I were having lunch in Seattle’s International District at the time, and Chinese students in black pants and white shirts where having angry, angry demonstration at Hing Hay Park. Not violent or dangerous, but they were angry enough to wake the dead. I also remember that a senior at my school organized a rally a the state capitol building in Olympia, and we students left class to walk from our school to the rally, in solidarity with the student movement. A poster that I had painted hung up behind the podium, and it made national news.
When I was in graduate school, one of my profs told me about her experiences that day, as a visiting student in China. She was so shocked at the reports over Voice of America that she took a walk in the country side. When she returned, she said people she knew were denying the reports. It’s the People’s Army, they said. The People’s Army cannot turn on the People. My prof also told me that there were similar protests in cities all over China. Some cities faced a very violent crack down; in other cities authorities managed to persuade demonstrators to leave before the tragedy started.
When I visited Tian’anmen Square in 2000, I wanted to pay a visit to the site, which is a vast empty plaza. Our guide was a little puzzled, but I wanted to make sure I got a photo. She nervously told us later that she believed that the students were protesting corruption, and it was obvious to us that she had been thinking for a long time about an acceptable explanation to give us. We had not asked for an explanation Now I realize that I had put her in a bad position.
When I was living in Shanghai, i asked a good friend about his 六四 experience. He was stunned to find out that for us, the word “Tianan’men” necessarily refers to the crackdown. For Chinese people, in contrast, it’s just a big plaza at a gate to the Imperial Palace. My friend was young at the time of the crackdown, and didn’t have a lot of personal experience to recount to me.
I watched this video last night. This was made in 2005, and it doesn’t surprise me at all; it’s exactly what I expect. At time index 11:00 the woman uses the phrase “学潮日” which is something like “student unrest day.”
I stuffed my face with a baked potato for breakfast, and then carpooled to work. I had a little time for paperwork when I got to work, and then I gave my Chinese finals. After that, there was mass in the chapel, and then the end of the year luncheon; salmon and vegetables. We recognized the faculty members who are leaving the school, and I had to give a tribute. I was a little nervous to speak English for some reason; I read notes off my phone.
There was a brief period of reflection down by the lake side, which was hilarious. There were ducks, geese, and a dog.
Afterwards, there was a sunny time on the patio of Ivar’s Salmon House. It was really a beautiful time.
While we were out there, some people shared the news that there was a shooting at Seattle Pacific, which was less than two miles from where we were. I am glad to hear that the shooter was stopped by a student security guard with some pepper spray, and some alert bystanders.
I’ve lived a post Second Amendment lifestyle all my life, and I’m not someone to live in fear, I’m certainly not afraid enough to own a firearm. I wish these shootings would stop happening. I know that some people want to keep firearms around in case of a government crackdown, but I’m pretty sure if we angered the government enough, they have the power to crush us under their tank treads.
This blog is sometimes about language learning, and sometimes it’s just my travel and adventure journal. I’m done with classes for the year, and I’m expecting to post a lot more now, at least until school starts again in August.
It was really a lovely day, apart from the sad anniversary and the senseless shooting.