The tyrant in my country! (tuyen tap Book 3)

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No Enemies, No Hatred lets us judge for ourselves. It covers a range of recent hot topics in China: the role of sex and political humor in contemporary culture, the Confucius revival, the Beijing Olympics, Hong Kong, Tibet, Obama, Jesus Christ. But one thing seems certain: If the injustices that Liu has railed against are still in place, he will not be timid about speaking his mind.

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Liu writes with ease and persuasiveness on subjects ranging from land grabs of farmland by corrupt officials, to child slavery, to Confucius. He has a knack for nailing contemporary China. Morgan, Open Letters Monthly. Instead, his voice is humble and inelegant, if vigorous. His writing would be simply informative if his subjects were not so urgent, and the clarity of his moral stance not so gem-hard, crystal-clear, and necessary. The award catapulted him to international stardom, shining a penetrating light on his own imprisonment much as he had often shined light on the troubles of his country.

The essays are tempered by poems, many of which are interwoven throughout the book to provide a much-needed calming effect. In , when hundreds of Chinese intellectuals and concerned citizens inspired by Liu Xiaobo signed Charter 08, calling for democracy and freedom in China, I was personally moved and expressed my admiration for their courage and their goals in public. Considering the writer himself remains imprisoned, this book is a powerful reminder of his courage and his vision for a new China. I believe that in the coming years, future generations of Chinese will enjoy the fruits of the efforts that Chinese citizens today are making towards the introduction of a more open and responsible governance.

I would also like to take this opportunity to renew my call to the Chinese government to release him and other prisoners of conscience. They do that too, heroically. But they are also the work of a first rate literary intellectual, whose ideas are of universal value. In three words: sharp, witty, and above all, humane.

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This book is for anyone who is concerned with a better China and a better world. The essential value of the essays in this volume springs from that very source: Liu Xiaobo lives in truth; he is different. My traveling companion, a professional photographer, tries to take photos of these arms and legs.

He cannot find an angle that pleases him. Every war has these human consequences that are not easy to frame in ways that would make them more acceptable, these amputees, these blind, these depressed, these suicidal, these insane, these jobless, these homeless, these side effects and delayed effects whose existence keeps memories of the war alive when most citizens would rather forget, or, at best, remember in circumscribed fashion. The cities of the dead fulfill this desire for a memory quarantined in both space and time, for the burial of the dead is a burial of contagious memory.

But during the rest of the year, the dead are noticed only by their caretakers, who do their work as cows wander among the tombs. In daylight, the capital of the dead is a peaceful and reverent place, exempt from the crowds and the clamor of the cities of the living. The atmosphere is somber but not gloomy, the red-roofed temples with their ornate eaves serene and the tombs tended and tidy.

The boulevard leads to the center of the groomed grounds where an obelisk stands, engraved with To Quoc Ghi Cong , the Fatherland Remembers Your Sacrifice. This slogan is inscribed in all the places where the honored dead dwell. The Communist Party draws its vitality from the marrow of those bones, most of which are found in cemeteries far less grand than Mai Dich. Most of the dead have died far from home, and while they are not disrespected, they often exist in shabby circumstances, too distant for relatives to visit, looked on askance by those locals who see themselves as having been conquered by these martyrs.

Their provincial cemeteries are often dusty and neglected, the grass withered, the tombs arrayed on bare earth, the names on gravestones and shrines faded.


In these cemeteries, the masses of the dead lay as inert as facts, a million of them, not counting the contradictory facts of the losers and bystanders. Perhaps this need for a guide is particularly urgent when it comes to remembering the dead, who may have died for us or the community to which we belong, whom we might have killed or whom someone killed in our name.

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This need to remember the dead properly extends to all those whom we consider kin, by blood, affiliation, identification, community, sympathy, and empathy. We are in the thick of things when it comes to this kind of ethics, our feelings deep and our reactions quick, whether we speak of love in the private world or patriotism in the public world. Because these ethics emerge from relationships that we deem natural, they often lead to unquestioning loyalty to those we remember, at least in the heroic version of these ethics.

When it comes to war, we usually remember our own as noble, virtuous, suffering, and sacrificial. Uncomfortable questions about these heroes are unthinkable or recede into the background, unless circumstances force us to confront them. If and when we can finally acknowledge that those of our own side committed acts that cannot be reconciled with law and morality, we sometimes excuse those acts and their agents by blaming extenuating circumstances, such as the stress of combat.

At worst, we may consider these acts as reactive and justified simply because the enemy acted immorally first. Even so, we continue to think that those of our side are human, demanding understanding and empathy as people endowed with complexities of feeling, experience and perspective. Those of the other side, our enemies, or at least those unfriendly or alien to us, lack those complexities. To appropriate the language of the novelist E. When they feel, and what they feel, so do we.

One exception in the prominence of round characters for this kind of heroic ethics is that those of our own side can also be flat characters, so long as they are positive. After all, there is nothing flatter than the dead in a cemetery, marshaled as characters into a narrative not of their own making. They remain obedient to the generals and statesmen who continue speaking on their behalf, telling the story that the Fatherland remembers their sacrifice. So utterly attractive a character is he that even some of those from the losing side acquiesce to calling him Uncle.

Flat and round characters simply serve different purposes. Flat, heroic characters are commonplace, even fashionable, in Vietnam. They star on those billboards all over the country that exhort citizens to behave nobly and work for the nation. These billboards have their stylistic origins in wartime propaganda posters featuring revolutionary heroes and heroines, virtuous and smiling, chiseled and fierce, urging the people to unite and fight.

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  7. Flat characters also dominate in the museums, from the Fine Arts Museum of Hanoi to the War Remnants Museum of Saigon, where the stories share a numbing sameness. Communist revolutionaries, at great cost to themselves, mobilize and organize the people. Following the guidance of Uncle Ho, the Communist Party leads the people to victory. The shabby Museum of the Revolution in Hanoi presents this story for the entire country, beginning with black-and-white documentary photographs of colonial atrocities and legendary revolutionaries, ending with unintentionally pitiful displays of economic triumph: textiles and sewing machines and rice cookers behind glass.

    On a smaller scale and in the middle of the country, the Son My museum that commemorates the My Lai massacre focuses on the singular tragedy of the five hundred people murdered — some raped — by American troops. The aftermath of their story is the same as the common narrative, the triumphant revolution eventually transforming the war-blasted landscape of village and province with verdant fields, new bridges, lively schools, and lovely people.

    They walk and breathe in a few works of art that deviated from the dominant story and yet found their way to readers and viewers. The novel begins in the months following the end of the war, with a team searching for the missing and the dead in the Jungle of Screaming Souls. Still, he might have been able to bear these horrors but for the gangrenous disillusionment of the postwar years.

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    So much blood, so many lives were sacrificed — for what? In an effort to make sense of death and disillusionment, of being surrounded by the dead, Kien becomes a writer. Each page revived one story of death after another and gradually the stories swirled back deep into the primitive jungles of war, quietly restoking his horrible furnace of war memories.

    When American troops hunt them, she stays behind as a decoy, killing their tracker dog.


    After they capture her, the Americans, black and white, take turns raping her. Kien watches from a distance, too afraid to save her.

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    Remembering this horrible scene provokes Kien into recalling another scene that came before it. In the earlier event, a teenage Kien sets off to war, accompanied on the train by his beautiful girlfriend Phuong.

    He is so devoted to her that he cannot bring himself to make love to her, despite her repeated invitations. This purity is a symptom of weakness rather than strength, at least in terms of how he perceives his masculinity. His weakness is revealed to him on the train, when he cannot protect her from fellow soldiers intent on gang-raping her. He was to remember that as his first war wound. Too late and too fearful to save Phuong from the rapes she has already endured, the teenage Kien murders his first man, a sailor who tries to be next in line.

    If he gave in to murder, these other men gave in to rape, the erotic indistinguishable, at one extreme, from the homicidal. It was a kind of nostalgia, like the immense sadness of a world at dusk. It was a sadness, a missing, a pain which could send one soaring back into the past. Nothing is worse than being ignored, erased, or effaced, as the losers of any war or conflict can affirm. The antiheroic version of this kind of ethics dwells in the nebulous world of the chiaroscuro, half-lit, half-obscured.

    No surprise, then, that by the end, Kien the writer vanishes from his apartment and into the shadows, leaving only his manuscript. They were caring days, when we knew what we were living and fighting for and why we needed to suffer and sacrifice. Those were the days when all of us were young, very pure, and very sincere. Both an idealist in looking back and a cynic in looking at the present, Kien is not fit to live in a postwar society that only speaks about the glorious brightness of war.