Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is Everything For Sale? Standing with Liu Xiao Bo

Carl von Ossietzky won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1936. He was also not allowed to recieve it in person. von Ossietzky was not allowed to recieve the prize by a new and dynamic political system that also viewed "national sovereignty" as more important than the rights of the individual. He died in a Nazi labor camp of a heart attack after being abused for being a pacifist.

The difference between what happened in 1936 and what happened in 2010 with Chinese poet Liu Xiao Bo is that Germany was never as powerful as China is today or will be in the future.

I have been to China many times and there is not a more creative or harder working people but like the German people who are also creative and hard working they are victims of a system that preaches National Renewal while ignoring human rights. People are regularly imprisoned for going to Mass, or writing poetry or asking for the most basic human rights. The Chinese have unfettered Capitalism with none of the human rights that should come with that system.

The problem with what happened to both von Ossietzky and Liu is that out of fear the free peoples of world's response has been muted and quiet because of fear of the oppressing government's financial power. Yes, I know that President Obama said that he supported Liu and I know that President Roosevelt's administration decried the death of von Ossietzky's death in a Nazi labor camp in 1936 but that was not enough then or now.

I am writing this blog post on a computer made in China. My clothes are made in China. My iPod is made in China and the money in my bank account was loaned to the US government by China. Unlike the 1930's it is impossible to boycott China or Chinese things as it was with German things but the principal is the same. The Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and the UN Charter should not be sold out because the Chinese might be offended. Or they might foreclose on America. It is often said that China is the future. Does the future include being put in a Labor Camp for writing poetry, working as a journalist and asking for China to become a multi party democracy?

That is why Mr Liu is in a Labor Camp.

It is time that we in the Free world, the inheritors of the legacy of Washington, Jefferson, Voltaire, Mazzini, Bolivar, King, Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi ask ourselves are our cheap iPods worth supporting a regime that regularly imprisons people for asking for basic human rights?

I realize that by saying this I might offend the Chinese. But, I choose to stand with Mr Liu. And ask when will this end and when will offense stop being used to justify oppression?

Or is everything for sale?

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