At an alumni gathering at the middle school affiliated with Beijing Normal University on 12 January 2013, Song Binbin 宋彬彬, the Red Guard representative chosen to pin an armband on Chairman Mao on 18 August 1966 and who later became a propaganda tool under the name Song Yaowu 宋要武, presented an apology for her actions during the Cultural Revolution.
Song is the daughter of General Song Renqiong 宋任穷, one of the ‘Eight Elders’, and is the second member of an influential family to express regret over Red Guard behavior. In August, Chen Xiaolu 陈小鲁, son of Marshal Chen Yi 陈毅, apologized for violence against students, teachers, and staff of Beijing’s #8 Middle School, where he had been a student leader and chairman of the school’s revolutionary committee. Chen’s and Song’s statements follow a spate of apologies made in 2013 by less well-known figures.
The substance of Song’s apology is that she let herself get carried away with writing the school’s first big-character poster on 2 June. She also addresses the in the ‘August 5 Incident’ 8-5事件 and apologizes for failing to stop a student mob from killing principle Bian Zhongyun 卞仲耘 and beating other school administrators. Song’s statement is unlikely to satisfy people who believe, as the rejection of a ‘refined’ name for a ‘violent’ one might suggest, that she was a direct participant in the day’s violence.
Song has repeatedly clarified that the name Yaowu was foisted on her by authors of a fabricated Guangming Daily commentary piece republished in the People’s Daily, and in her apology she asserts her innocence yet again.
Links and sources
– Consensus Net 共识网: 宋彬彬：我的道歉和感谢
– Beijing #8 Middle School Alumni Association blog 北京八中老三届同学会: 陈小鲁会长对《发生在北京八中不堪回首的一幕》的反馈
– Xu Ben 徐贲: 宋彬彬的“错”和“罪”; Cui Weiping 崔卫平: 隔了这么多年的“道歉”，不能认为有个姿态就行了……
– Photo via ifeng