Saturday, April 13, 2019

the last book I ever read (Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown by Lauren Hilgers, excerpt five)

from Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown by Lauren Hilgers:

Then someone had asked Tang if he owned the idea of democracy. “Is it yours, or does it belong to everyone?” He conceded the point. There was no reason to insist that the first party was the only one or even the best one. So he rented an office and started holding weekly meetings. Every Tuesday he talked about China’s history and read the biographies of activists still in jail to a crowd of people sitting in folding chairs. On the final Tuesday of every month, he led his group to the corner of 42nd Street and Twelfth Avenue, across from the Chinese consulate. Tang’s party planted itself there, to serve as a reminder that dissent still existed.

In 2014 Tang’s protests faced frigid winter weather. The wind came up the Hudson River from the sea, whistling through the moorage of a retired World War II aircraft carrier—the Intrepid—just past 42nd Street. It would bend around the corner of 12th Avenue and force its way through sweaters, coats, and mittens. Protesters took turns holding up the banners, letting their hands thaw, then freeze, then thaw again. Tang would speak into a megaphone, and every once in a while the crowd would pick up a political chant, their voices carried off by the wind. Snow piled up on the sidewalks, and people stomped their feet against the cold.

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