PROTEST 101

A summary of views and commentary, and Jiang-a-go-go.

We were especially pleased to have our veritas-embossed press pass last week for the official Jiang visit. Otherwise, we might have been jailed for walking through good old Harvard Yard, which was occupied by more officials of the Cambridge police and federal Secret Service than turned out to bust the Adams House masquerade.

Can you say military state? We can. We can also say that the weekend took a great deal of planning.

All the protesters had to be herded into their respective pens: Taiwan here, Tibet there, and all those bubbly, bussed-in Chinese nationalists in the Graduate School of Design. The Chinese communist flag--bright, blood red, arrogant yellow and seemingly spanking new--had to be hung proudly from University Hall. The special-edition Harvard Gazette, a.k.a. Pravda, had to be distributed to the hundreds of international journalists in attendance. The entrances to Loker Commons and Sanders Theatre had to be blocked off for hundreds of feet. And the Taiwanese Culture Society had to be displaced.

But even before the weekend, the administration had to do some heavy advance work. It had to place an ad in The Crimson the size of Dartboard's collective thumb in order to announce the first-ever visit of a Chinese head-of-state. It had to send letters of warning, including a notice from the Cambridge city manager, to all departments that the Yard would be blocked off from almost every entrance.

In the end, the University must be commended for doing such a great job in planning Jiang's visit. All went smoothly: the press got great photos of Jiang (behind ye old Harvard motto) and the lovely protesters in their monk robes and specialized t-shirts. It all seemed like such a perfectly organized circus to us that Jiang might take the idea back to his own military state. The message for the next Communist Party convention? If you can manipulate and manage dissent so as not to have it taken seriously, why bother shooting?

A new strategy for a new China. Wasn't that the message Harvard was trying to get across?