Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Broken Fact: Tanks and Blood on the Streets of Nanjing

The Original Story:
On Page 26 of Bend, Not Break, Fu Ping described what she saw when she arrived at Nanjing:
As we drove through the streets that day, I saw that it was not even as pleasant as I had remembered; it seemed more like a war zone. Military tanks rolled down the tree-lined roads. Gunshots rang out like bad omens. Bloodstains dotted the sidewalks, serving as warning signs.
In the 2010 interview with American Public Media's The Story, she spoke of an even more vivid scene:
So we are driving on the street and I see blood, killing, people get shot, just driving by. It was at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

The Debunking:
Cultural Revolution was indeed known for its extreme violence that included factional fighting on college campuses and streets involving guns, heavy weaponry, and sometimes even tanks. But that only happened after 1967.

In 1966, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, the Red Guards haven't not taken up real arms yet. They typically beat up people with belts and sticks.

What Fu Ping saw on Nanjing street that day might have come from a scene in one of the movies depicting the chaos of Cultural Revolution at a later time, or a piece of "emotional memory."

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