I woke up the other morning to read the news in the Guardian that the pope believes in angels. I took the headline on faith, and moved on. The Guardian introduced me to Joshua Wong, leader of the “the spontaneous nature of the civil disobedience,” in Hong Kong, as if to illustrate the pope’s charming belief.
Joshua Wong, I’m told, is the seventeen-year-old “co-founder of Scholarism, the student movement which kickstarted [sic] the demonstrations,” in Hong Kong. At fifteen, Joshua (I may be permitted the first name?) founded the movement in protest to Beijing’s proposal to introduce “national education,” which Joshua’s supporters believe is “brainwashing.”
I assume, the “brainwashing,” would be free, Beijing not being on a course of manic privatization-of-everything that I’ve heard of. In the United States, “brainwashing,” if we’re talking of university, is liberally and democratically available as the road to lifelong indebtedness—and scarce income. If Joshua is not aware of the perils of education in the self-proclaimed freest and most democratic society in the world, he, too, may believe in angels.
In fact, the Guardian describes him as one. A model of filial devotion to quiet, retiring middle-class parents, Roger and Grace, also, incidentally, veteran “pro-democracy” activists—modest and discreetly morose about his meteoric hurtling into global fame, Joshua’s apparel is the very opposite of that of Che’s, arguably the most endurably visible revolutionary in the world, himself devoted to a “brainwashing” form of education, albeit that of a “New Man,” who would revolutionize consciousness and change the world. Che’s educational program was called “socialism,” an alternative form of organizing society that American education never speaks of. Here’s how the Guardian makes its fashion statement about Joshua’s sartorial paraphernalia, the very model of a typical, though not noticeably anti-capitalist, “occupy” teenager:
With his floppy hair, baggy shorts and stripy T-shirt, accessorized [sic] with a yellow ribbon around each skinny wrist, the only thing distinguishing the 17-year-old from the other teenagers on Wednesday was the bank of television cameras facing him.
An “oriental” Maoist, this icon is not. Relax, readers. The Guardian informs with a polite, suppressed shudder, that the “Hong Kong demonstrations were triggered after the Chinese government restricted who can run as the commercial hub’s next chief executive, or leader.”
Notice, readers: “restricted who can run.” Fiendish autocracy of Beijing. The Guardian, being a British newspaper, may be forgiven for not noting that in the United States, the “central government” is made up of two business parties, which restrict the electoral choice of presidents to two candidates, both of whose pockets are stuffed with million of lobby dollars—well over half a billion in Obama’s case in 2008–in order to win a popularity race that will make not a bit of difference to the citizens at home and America’s imperial hostages abroad.
Undaunted by tonal deafness and attention to comparative logic, the Guardian trudges on:
Chinese state media have attacked Scholarism as extremists and a pro-Beijing Hong Kong-based paper claimed that “US forces” had worked to cultivate Wong as a “political superstar”—accusations Wong has dismissed.
Now what has given the “pro-Beijing Hong Kong paper” such an outrageous idea? When has the US ever meddled with the internal affairs of a foreign country? Has it been listening to Putin’s propaganda, denigrating the splendid “civil society” success of the supposed American coup in Kiev last February? Has it been heeding the testimony of the “shocked” OSCE human rights observers on 29 September that grossly mutilated bodies of civilians are being exhumed in the vicinity of rebel Donetsk—one allegedly a pregnant woman and another woman decapitated, among other reportedly unidentifiable remains? Or Russian Foreign Minister’s Lavrov’s figure of over 400 corpses found in mass graves in territories recently vacated in haste by the alleged US-sponsored “fascist” rabble of the Ukrainian National Guard? Does Beijing believe victim testimony of repeated mass rapes, including of girls as young as twelve, by the Ukrainian anti-terrorist fascist battalions in villages around Donetsk? Is Beijing so credulous as to credit Amnesty International’s confirmation of human rights abuses in East Ukraine? If so, goodness, Beijing might believe that serial US-funded “color revolutions,” starting in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, have manipulated the members of the former Warsaw Pact into serving the NATO alliance in its encirclement of Russia. The Chinese central government might even go so far as to suppose that President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” requires a first stop in Moscow before proceeding to “color revolution” in Beijing.
Crazy. Speaking of which, I have a message for the Guardian, which is inscribed on a plaque hanging in my kitchen, the gift of a fan of Jack Nicholson’s wisdom in “As Good as It Gets”: “Go sell crazy somewhere else. We’re all stocked up here.”
All the Guardian really needed to report for us to get the true picture was one telling fact: the budget allocated to Hong Kong by the CIA’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Luciana Bohne is co-founder of Film Criticism, a journal of cinema studies, and teaches at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.