When a friend told me there were more shots of the still nameless “Tank Man” who stood in front of a phalanx of oncoming weaponry in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, I figured I would find a few photos from different angles. I did not expect a widescreen tableau that completely recontextualized the scale of the protests (and the man’s bravery, seeing that he was but armed with two plastic shopping bags).
From this distance, you see past the four tanks in the original iconic photo, to a chillingly expansive mass of tanks and soldiers. The scale of the picture changes the story somewhat, don’t you think? (You can see a larger version here.)
I actually found this shot on the website of the right wing think tank, The Heritage Foundation! I suppose students risking (and often losing) their lives to protest an oppressive Chinese government can be easily co-opted for red scare fodder. Regardless, it’s not every day that I actually learn something new from the right wing!
A closer street-level view of the David and Goliath confrontation—shot just before the tanks reached “Tank Man” and stopped their engines—was published by photographer Terrell Jones in 2009. Look for “Tank Man” behind the guy running.