The Cultural Revolution, The Gang of Four, and The Detroit Pistons?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is it just me, because I'm an Asian American who knows about these things, or is it that sometimes people aren't just up to snuff on their history?

If it doesn't pertain to them, do they just care less?

Take for example Bob Ryan, a Boston Globe columnist who wrote a recent article on the upcoming Celtics/Pistons matchup in the Eastern Conference, and when talking about the four veterans from the Pistons that have been together now for five years, he referred to them in the following way:

This exemplary Gang of Four consists of [...]
Because he capped the words "Gang" and "Four", I have to believe it was intentional emphasis, but I'll also give Ryan the benefit of the doubt in that he probably didn't realize that when someone who's Asian American read that line - like me - that they immediately thought of the infamous Gang of Four and the violence they spread during the Cultural Revolution where millions of people were persecuted, stripped of their human rights and displaced, and where scholars have put the numbers of the deaths during this period in the millions.

But I also have to ask the question "How can you not know?".

I love basketball, and I love the NBA, but when you use a reference to the Gang of Four for something that in the end is a game - no matter how much that game inspires - it essentially minimizes one of the worst periods in history; a history that Asian Americans who immigrated to the U.S. from China haven't forgotten about because of the toll that it took on their families and loved ones. A history that just like the Holocaust should never be forgotten.

I'm not sure if I'm trying to give Bob Ryan and The Boston Globe editors a way out, or if I'm pointing out to them that they should know better and that not knowing only takes you so far.

It's probably a little bit of both.