Just who is brainwashing whom?
The fiery, teary speeches on stage. The arms crossed in unison by the thousands, most of them wearing the same black T-shirts with black ribbons tied around their wrists. If I didn't know better, I would have thought this was a radical cult involving young children.
But no, it was the anti-brainwashing rally against the new national education curriculum outside the government headquarters in Admiralty. The whole scene on Monday night rather reminded me of a famous scene from the video of Pink Floyd's hit album The Wall. Remember, "We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control." The irony of Roger Waters' great creation was that the children with clenched fists who rebelled against their elders fell under the spell of a deranged, fascist leader.
Well, we don't have a cult leader yet, but the pure enthusiasm, youthful rebellion, rejectionism, intransigence and total contempt for the authorities are all on display. I am no fan of our rather clueless government. But the insults, deliberate humiliation and rudeness levelled against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Executive Council member Anna Wu Hung-yuk - who heads a committee on national education - are indeed disturbing. When Leung tried to talk to the group on Saturday, they told him off. Then, inexplicably on Monday night, they demanded Leung go on stage to meet them. What for? A public lynching?
The youngsters, remarkably, are encouraged by many parents and the media. A particularly "fruity" local paper has given up all pretence of journalistic objectivity and handed them its front page as their mouthpiece. Does no one think it absurd and extreme for teenagers to launch a hunger strike over a minor school programme? Those who advocate national education may be right or wrong. Parents and educators have every right to reject it. But we should not let our children decide what goes into their curriculums.
If we are to prepare them for a democratic future, they should learn about compromise, negotiation, give-and-take. Today, we are telling them to reject, and to become extreme, unreasoning and uncompromising; and to show contempt to all those who disagree with them.