Joe McCarthy must be turning over in his grave.
After all, who would have thought capitalism and communism would turn out to be such greedy, self-centered bedfellows?
This convenient marriage has its fair share of problems. Right now, though, America is tossing and turning because it's having a heck of a time doing what it does best -- acting sanctimonious. We are shocked and awed when we hear of human rights abuses in oil rich countries. It's so easy to say, "Let's get those so-and-so's!" But what about a country that owns our debt? Like China, for instance.
America, who's your daddy now? Funny how we can't complain about the dirty dishes when daddy is paying the bills.
According to an investigation airing Tuesday night on HDNet's Dan Rather Reports, America's de facto godfather is taking a giant leap backwards in the human rights department. In the meantime, the Chinese government makes capitalist hay. While no one seems to be watching, and with America's "moral superiority" stripped away, China has once again arrested someone whose voice rose in contradiction to the Chinese government.
According to Dan Rather Reports, Chinese artist and well-known dissident Ai WeiWei had the nerve to ask his government to tell the truth about just how many of his countrymen died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. We know now that regulations were lax and buildings shoddy... and that the death toll numbers did not match up. So, Ai, who designed the famous Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympics, began tallying his own body count and encouraged others to do the same. He honored the dead by listing five thousand names on a Vietnam Memorial-type wall.
When interviewed for Rather, Ai proclaimed:
"Change is in the air. It's in many young people's hearts. The most powerful tool to this kind of authoritarian society is to let the truth out."
Despite Ai's efforts and optimism, China is, according to Dan Rather Reports, heading dangerously backwards.
But what country isn't?
America's imperial adventures make China's human rights abuses harder to stop. China knows America is preoccupied with a messy fight for oil, so China isn't likely to get those morally superior lectures from America any time soon.
Americans may, at times, be obnoxiously self-righteous, but America's leaders, like China's, know exactly which side their bread is buttered on. And by whom.
Rather reports that there's a surging nationwide crackdown on Chinese anti-government activists. Apparently, the World Wide Web is scaring the heck out of Communist China. Ai was, and we hope still is, a tweeter. Because of that, he is now either dead or in jail.
This is when America would normally step in with some power and moral authority to demand Ai's release. But, from Guantanamo to extraordinary rendition to Abu Ghraib, all set against the backdrop of the largest class action suit in American history against China's primary plastic widget peddler -- Wal-Mart -- America has lost its leverage and its moral authority, throughout the world and especially toward China.
Where would we shop for goodness sakes?
In the interview, Ai is asked:
"Are you scared of anything? Are you scared of them arresting you or taking you away?"
"Of course," Ai says, "I have to always every day ask myself... how long can I last if I'm in extreme condition such as jail."
Now that the world's human rights bar is set so low, let's begin by praying Ai is merely in jail. If so, there is still hope that he can come out the other side of this alive and intact. Until he tweets once again, perhaps the citizens of America will do what he did. Start taking names and begin raising our voices to meet the power of our convictions.