What Others Are Saying

April 26, 2007

That was a splendid call from the gun lobby in America, to insist the only problem with gun ownership is even more people should have them. This means supporters of President Bush have only once pursued anyone for possessing weapons, and then it turned out he didn't have any.

- The (London) Independent

David Halberstam died as he lived: on his way to a story. The fatal car crash kept him from interviewing Y. A. Tittle, the former New York Giants quarterback. Mr. Halberstam wrote as well about sports as about serious issues, such as the truth of the Vietnam War, which won him a Pulitzer. Like the title of his noted Vietnam book, he was part of The Best and the Brightest.

- Newsday (New York)

Mainland leaders speak frequently of the need to take heed of history; Premier Wen Jiabao did precisely that earlier this month when addressing Japan's parliament, telling lawmakers that to do so "is not to dwell on hard feelings, but to remember and learn from the past." On the 50th anniversary of the anti-rightist campaign, the first of a series of policies instigated by Mao Tse-tung to silence critics, it is a shame that the nation's foremost officials are so eager that such sage advice be shunned.

Only by admitting to mistakes can China move confidently forward. Bottling up errors by ordering silence will lead to discontent, not the social harmony leaders seek.

The campaign and the following policies, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution are, after all, salient reminders of the dangers of putting too much power in the hands of too few people. Yet in January, propaganda officials told intellectuals to downplay or not mention such events.

When it comes to Japan's wartime record and other historical events from which the leadership can gain political capital, there are no qualms about turning to history. It is quite another matter on issues involving the Communist Party and edicts of its leaders - so much so that those caught up in them are afraid to tell of their experiences. But history can never be ignored. Only by keeping the past in mind can the mistakes that were made be avoided.

- South China Morning Post

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