2019-08-17 Hong Kong

I never quote knew what to write about Hong Kong. I love Asian megacities. I loved Hong Kong when we stopped over on our flight to Australia. Spending a few days in Hong Kong was great. I took some pictures.

Today I started reading a blog post by Maciej Cegłowski. It’s about the protests in Hong Kong, and about seeing Hong Kong as an American tourist, but also about seeing America as a Polish immigrant. I like it so much.

With the police visible, there is a little bit of a hush in the crowd. The march continues in a direction parallel to the police line, to another major intersection. There, volunteers are yelling to offer marchers a choice. We can turn right and walk to a nearby train station. Or we can go left and confront the police. Most people choose to go left, and are handed surgical masks (to hide their faces) if they don’t already have them.

I don’t think I can add much. Maciej ends his blog post with: “… all our hearts will remain with you, and with Hong Kong, whatever comes next.”

I recently heard a re-run of an episode of Thinking Allowed about tear gas. They talked about how it’s effectively torture. To inflict humiliating pain so excruciating that it reduces them to an animal unable to resist, to reduce people to gagging and vomiting bags of meat, as if you kept beating them with sticks until they left, hammering their arms and legs with clubs and batons, as sometimes happens after a tear gas attack, to use chemical weapons developed for trench warfare in the first World War against civilians, to use weapons outlawed in wars against foreign nations against your own population – I for one would not be surprised to learn that once a lawful citizen is tortured like this one is never again willing to trust the state, to trust the police, and forever on the lookout for a weakness. To end this torture. To hit back when the torturers show a sign of weakness. How will this end? How will this ever end well?

This is a question that concerns us all. Hong Kong is simply at the vanguard of it all. They are fighting for us.

We use tear gas to demoralize an angry population, and then what? Drone warfare? Civil war? Assassinations and terrorism? What are the options? What are the options if we cannot demonstrate for change?

I don’t like violence. But in the name of reducing our costs, of reducing the risks for our diminished police forces, we have found a love for “non-lethal” weapons. People are tortured on the streets by tear gas, have lost their sight to rubber bullets, and we pat ourselves on the back because we aren’t shooting them. Yeah, right on. We’re using “non-lethal” weapons because the alternative is what, the use of lethal weapons? Are these the options we are given?

How will this end well? We all need to think about the kind of positive outcomes we want for our world.

In the podcast episode they were talking to Anna Feigenbaum who had written Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of World War I to the Streets of Today. As I was looking for a good website I came across an episode of Forthright Radio with a ton of pictures on their site. I haven’t listen to the audio, though. I am afraid to do it. Tear gas and rubber bullets make me so angry.



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