Orville Schell: Memory, Forgiveness and Forgetting
By the time former Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and Premier Zhao Ziyang died in January, he seemed to have already vanished from the consciousness of most citizens of China. Because he had been under house arrest ever since that fateful May night in 1989 when he tearfully appeared in Tiananmen Square, and because the leaders who succeeded him controlled the media, Zhao became a kind of political antimatter.
Should anyone care if a country’s method for dealing with its inconvenient history and unjustly disgraced leaders is to try to forget them? Are there consequences in failing to heed George Santayana’s warning that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it?