While a certain degree of skepticism may be healthy for society, raising unwarranted doubts can lead to a betrayal of truth. For a professor emeritus, Ramesh Thakur shows fairly sloppy — and dangerous — historical thinking in his June 7 opinion piece, “Which Tiananmen narrative is true?” While he never outright denies that the Chinese Communist Party massacred their own citizens in the early morning of June 4, 1989, his attempts to punch holes in the orthodox narrative makes it easier to dismiss the entire incident.
Simply by casting doubt where none is warranted, damage is done as the public throws their hands up — just as Thakur seems to have done — and decides (incorrectly) that if the truth about the Tiananmen Square can never be known, then there’s no point in thinking about it. The best propagandists know they don’t have to get the public to believe them outright; so long as the public accepts their words as a possible truth their work is done. Seeds of doubt can grow into a tree of mistrust that blossom into a flower of relativism that becomes the fruit of injustice.