China's Cultural Revolution, 1966-1969: Not a Dinner Party

By Michael Schoenhals | Go to book overview

stances in the Cultural Revolution.2 A feeling of sudden discomfort filled my heart. How could we not bear responsibility for the tragic fate of Wu Han's family? Twenty years have passed, and still, every time I come to think of this incident, I feel remorse. Having now at long last confessed my great wrongdoing, I silently ask for forgiveness, hoping that in his heavenly abode, the martyred spirit of comrade Wu Han will have found solace.


68
Go on Red! Stop on Green!

Yu Xiaoming

Source: "Quxiao hongdeng de zhenglun." In Li Hui and Gao Lilin, eds., Dixue de tongxin--Haizi xinzhong de wenge (Bloodstained Innocence--The Cultural Revolution in the Hearts of the Young) ( Beijing: Zhongguo shaonian ertong chubanshe, 1989), pp. 293-95. The author now works for the State Commission of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense. Translated by Bengt Pettersson .

Many absurd dramas in history have been acted out in an atmosphere of extreme seriousness. As a result, absurdities have sometimes acquired an aura of mystique. To prevent absurdities from turning into disasters is a serious task. At the same time, absurdity is sometimes the only form in which the serious can act itself out.

The latter half of 1966 was truly a time of madness. Red Guards were running about "smashing the four olds," swearing to completely upset the status quo. At the time, some Red Guards discovered that there was a problem with the traffic lights: red, the color of revolution, meant stop and hence served to "obstruct the progress of revolution"! They pointed out that this was nothing less than blasphemy. It was an

____________________
2
The circumstances surrounding the deaths of Wu Han and his wife, Yuan Zhen, in 1969 ( Wu died in prison; Yuan died from abuse and medical neglect after being released from a labor correction team) will be dealt with in a forthcoming book by Wu's American biographer, Mary G. Mazur.

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