My piece for Thai Enquirer:
On August 24th, the Manager newspaper published a political cartoon depicting Mao Zedong and Thanathorn Juangroongureangkit side by side. In front of Mao are the red guards, holding Little Red Books; in front of Thanathorn are today’s anti-government protestors, three fingers in the air.
It was not an accurate depiction. Today’s protestors are not taking their orders from an authoritarian regime, for one — quite the opposite. The cultural revolution’s chaotic, and indeed bloody, scenes have not and in all likelihood will not be repeated.
But the cartoon is indicative of how some conservatives are feeling, for to them these times are disorienting. A few weeks ago, a protest at Thammasat issued a historic list of ten demands on reform of the monarchy. The education minister was recently subjected to a humiliating debate with students on the state of Thai schools. Explosive hashtags trend regularly. Old norms, long ingrained, are being overturned at breathtaking speed.
So if conservatives feel a sense of some sort of cultural revolution occurring, perhaps they could be forgiven. Indeed, the most telling part of the cartoon was the depiction of a struggle session occurring in front of the protestors, the victims of whom were two elderly men holding ‘salim’ signs. They don’t fear a cultural revolution. Instead, they fear and resent this new war on salim.
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