Sunday, March 31, 2013

Questionable Fact: Fu Ping's "Struggle Session"

The Original Story:
On Pages 42-43 of Bend, Not Break, Fu Ping describes a "struggle session" in which she was one of the targets when she was only 8 years old:
My legs began to tremble as I listened to the endless taunts and jeers from the crowd, the repeated chants of "Black element!" I was the third or fourth person to be called onstage. Before me was a sea of angry, curious, and frightened faces. Red Guards hung a sign around my neck made from a piece of chalkboard they'd taken from one of the classrooms at the university. It had my name and the crimes of my bourgeois family printed on it. The chalkboard was so heavy that the wires cut into my neck. I was forced to assume the "airplane position": arms held out straight on either side of my body like wings. My limbs shook so uncontrollably that I felt as though I were standing on a plank floating in a tank of water.
She suffered more beating at the session.

The Debunking:
The scene itself was real. Struggle sessions (批斗会), sign-hanging, and the airplane position are all typical occurrences during the Cultural Revolution.

The problem is that it's almost unheard of that such tactics were used upon an 8-year-old. Maybe as cruel plank in child plays among her peers, but not in a formal session conducted by grown-ups.

No comments:

Post a Comment