Wednesday, May 21, 2008

orchestrated evil

excerpt from To Bear Any Burden: The Vietnam War And Its Aftermath In The Words Of Americans And Southeast Asians -

"The first step was the ideological preparation, self-criticism among Party members. The second step was announcing a trade tax, based on the system Mao had applied in China. A Trade Office was established to give the Party monopoly of all trade. In the village where I lived, there was a merchant from the city who opened a watch-repair shop. Like every other shop owner he had to put up a sign, "Welcome Trade Tax!" Since he has a little education, he knew to put an exclamation mark to express enthusiasm. But this was very bad luck for him. In the Maoist Chinese vocabulary an exclamation mark is a sign of complaint. At a village meeting to denounce "reactionaries," the Communist cadre who acted as chairman told him, "You are very clever. You say 'Welcome' but you use a mark of complaint." He was beaten to death. A victim of Western grammar.

...Peasants were forced into playing out retaliation against neighbors. For instance, if a father has been classified a "landlord," the cadre call in the children. If the eldest is a girl with younger brothers and sisters, she is told, "If you do not denounce your father, you will be classified as a landlord, too. But if you publicly denounce your father and say that he raped you, you can stay home to take care of your brothers and sisters." To save the rest of her family, she was obliged to go along. It was like a staged drama, orchestrated by the Party. Peasants and landowners had to play roles like in the theater."

- Hoang Van Chi, Resistance Operative, Viet Minh, North Vietnam, 1945-1954

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