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Tiananmen Square - Tank Man

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Hi all.

First of all, sorry if you don't think this topic belongs in the Political Philosophy catagory. I wasn't sure where to put it.

I was reading about the "tank man" at Tiananmen Square because of the whole controversy over having the Olympics in China. I wanted to know more about it since everyone's seen the picture and I wanted to know the back story.

As I'm sure you know, there's more to it, but it boils down to citizens, mostly students, protesting against, "...the authoritarianism and economic policies of the ruling Chinese Communist Party" and calling for "...democratic reform within the structure of the government". (As quoted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Squ...otests_of_1989).

The most famous photo representing the protests is of the unknown man who stands strong against a fleet of tanks headed for the square. He successfully stops them in their tracks and foils their attempts to get around him. He is eventually pulled away by the crowd but his message and his stance were clear... we don't want you here. In that moment he became the face of the protest.

Now, I take a look at that picture and think about what a powerful message it sends. It reminds us that freedom isn't free. I respect his bravery and his resolve, since he knew that he could have been killed in that moment. He made a statement and was willing to stand for a free China.

Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this. Who knows how philosophically minded he was, but the point is: he became the face of the protests, the photo showed the absolute struggle of the freedom-minded Chinese citizen against the all-powerful communist government, showed the world the true colors of communist China and it went down in history as a historical moment. I respect him and all the protesters who were against a communist government.

My husband looks at the picture and doesn't understand the big deal. He says that since nothing was accomplished by the guy standing there (the tanks eventually continued into the square and killed people) and since the guy was on a "suicide mission" (since he could have easily been killed) then there's nothing great about the event.

I just want to know what you guys think. Should we respect the guy or is it no big deal? To me, there are few photos that represent the struggle for freedom and the lengths to which people will go for that freedom in such a clear and powerful way. In my mind, its the ultimate showing of the individual against the collective.

Any thoughts??

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It was a huge deal! If 18 tanks were rolling down your street about to kill your friends and neighbors, wouldn't you try to stop them? The guy didn't have anything to combat a tank with; all he had was his refusal, and it held up a column of 18 tanks for half an hour; that's pretty impressive. God knows how many lives he saved and the of the city he saved. He was a soldier - in war, some units will stall the enemy while the other units get out and take better positions. That's what he was doing, he was fighting a war. He was holding up a column of tanks to keep them from destroying him and his city for as long as he could with whatever weapon he had.

Edited by Devils_Advocate
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