Wednesday, April 23, 2003
The extent to which party cadres will go to promote the economy and stability is fascinating. Today's ATimes China article states:
The head of China's AIDS foundation, Zeng Yi, said last year that local authorities became aware of the Henan problem back in 1995. Blood banks were closed, but locals were not told they might carry the virus. Now Henan has more than 100 "AIDS villages", as they are called in China. The HIV infection rates for these bleak towns range from 60-84 percent. Economics were the impetus for silence from local officials regarding the rapid spread of HIV."They are afraid the economy will suffer if the situation is revealed. Maybe investors would no longer be interested in the region. And they wish to assume no responsibility - their way of thinking is false," Zeng said. [Emphasis mine]
Either officials were completely ignorant of the devastating effects of the spread of HIV or they valued money-making over human life. I think its mostly the latter. As gruesome and inhumane as that sounds, these actions were predictable. The Great Famine (1959-1961) in which estimates state that up to 30 million Chinese starved to death, can be attributed to dishonesty and deliberate deceit. Cases of starvation and underproduction because of bad policy were silenced or understated. Higher authorities did nothing to change until it was too late. Haven't the Chinese leaders learned? Silencing reports and deceiving the public at large are only short-term methods that bring about very short-term stability. In the end, China will lose. The Great Famine has shown that, and SARs is a lesson as well. Concerns about humanity aside (because China obviously doesn't care too much about that), it is just not prudent (economially, and for its reputation) for China to underreport and deceive because sooner or later it will either have to pull its head out from the ground or risk getting trampled over.
A less concrete, but in my opinion a very important problem China faces today (unlike regional and urban-rural differences, human rights, etc...although they are connected with this one) is its role as the observer, gauging how other countries (in particular, the United States) see China and reacting to perceptions. There is no soul, if you will, directing China's ascension. China plays diplomacy too well, and as a negative effect, its international and even domestic agendas are shaped by other nations' perceptions of China. China does not have an identity/core guiding its actions. I say this because I see it highly unlikely that China would have done anything to stop SARs (until it would start hurting the economy)...only when other nations pushed them and began realizing that this problem became widespread and that China was the culprit did China start to apologize and take more action. Money-making is the only priority. In the long-run, I believe that this will hurt China...but who knows, maybe playing the observer and gauger will allow them to become the next superpower. Right now, however, they aren't gauging international perception too well and don't quite understand how globalized the world is today.
Monday, April 21, 2003
I just saw some television news coverage of an anti-war protest in New Haven today. Audible during the clip was a chant, by anti-war protesters, of "No justice, no peace." Nothing says funny like the complete lack of self-awareness.
One of the funniest headlines I have seen in a while. Requires you to register with NYTimes.com. Some exerpts:
"We're nervous that they're going to take it there, and we're nervous that they're going to bring it home," said Dr. Peter Kerndt, director of sexually transmitted disease control in Los Angeles County.
No pun intended.
Thursday, April 10, 2003
It is somewhat disturbing how readily people will turn an American flag upside down. The American government has many policies I disagree with, but I would never dream of voicing my dissent by burning or otherwise desecrating the flag. The flag is a symbol of a government, a nation, and the people within it. That is, it is a symbol of America, in all the ways that can be meant. It stands for both the idea and the actuality, the individuals and the society.
I am halted, if ever so slightly, every time I see the flag hung upside down. I identify very closely with America and with that flag, as many people do. I feel as if I have personally come under attack, in the same way (if not the same magnitude) I would if someone insulted my family. The point here is, to the extent that people consider themselves to be "Americans", they are personally insulted and disrespected by forms of protest that desecrate something that symbolizes a part of who they are.
I'm not saying this form of protest is never justified. But, dispite claims on campus that "Dissent is patriotic", there is nothing patriotic about protesting American policy by showing complete disrespect for the nation. People who would never dream of offending a person because of their race or their religion, or people who would never dream of disrespecting a person's ethicity, seem to beleive that Americans are either immune to offense by such displays or that they deserve to be offended. Now, again, I'm not saying they should not be allowed to burn a flag or hang it incorrectly. However, I do think it is seriously misguided to make such a strong statement of condemnation over a practical disagreement, even a serious one. Like the boy who cried wolf, people who resort to overstatement and exaggeration to gain attention for thier cause undercut themselves by their lack of perspective. It is not a part of a respectful debate; rather, it is a complete sign of disrespect. I, fo one, don't even wish to enter into an argument about American policy with someone who hangs a flag upside down. In my mind, they have so little respect for the nation in question, and so little respect for me personally (as I am being told what I stand for has destroyed my nation), that Idiscussion with them is completely futile. Those of you out there who make these ridiculous display should know what your display means. It does not convince anybody, and it alienates you from those who might be willing to have such discussions. I no longer rgue with such a person as a fellow American, because they seem unwilling to identify themselves with my nation. They are now an outsider, and so have created a division between us.
This brings me, then, to the case of Miss Lo. And I cannot point out enough, THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THE DISGRACEFUL BEHAVIOR ALLEGED OF MY FELLOW STUDENTS. NONE. But, Miss Lo's display was misguided if it hoped to yield anything else. She was wrong to have hoped to inspire meaningful debate with what is, at its heart, a personal insult and a melodramatic overreaction. A mature human being should be expected to control himself and not to threaten someone else. But let's not pretend that an upside down flag constiutes an argument. It does not.
I understand all to well the frustration of losing a political dispute, of seeing policies you do not support carried out in your name. But part of valuing society is accepting defeat. That does not mean you don't keep fighting. But it does mean that you maintain respect for your nation and your fellow citizens who do not agree with you. A patriot need not blindly adhere to whatever the government says. But neither does he throw a temper tantrum every time he doesn't get his way. I should not pretend America can do no wrong. But I'm certainly no patriot if I suppot America only when it does what I want it to do. That is a spoiled brat (and a terribly bourgeois) view of citizenship. I'm not generally ammenable to "Love it or leave it" patriotism. But don't disrespect it and then expect me to respect you.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Well, the post I made earlier has finally hit the Yale Daily News. I'll expand here a comment I made on the message board there. I'm skeptical because the detalis are rather unusual. The wooden plank just seems so odd. If Miss Lo was locked in her room, trying to be inconspicuous, how would she know they had a plank? No witness were reported. If there was some evidence of splinters in the common room, why didn't investigators assume it was a bat, which seems much more plausible. Wooden bats are easy to find, planks are not. Two reasonable scenarios come to mind:
1) That a lot of the story is not being reported for police purposes. If this is true, that's great, because it suggests that the criminals will be caught, and I would just hate it if the YDN reported some detail which let the thugs cover their tracks and elude identification.
2) The story is significantly embellished. It's impossible to know who to blame for that, whether the reporter or Miss Lo, until further details come to light. This seems most plausible. The whole event is weird. Why would they stay so long? Why would the message be so incoherent? I can't imagine anyone being so drunk as to write so oddly. The grammar is poor and the vulgarity strange. It reads like it was translated from English to Chinese to Russian back to English.
A further explanation for the plank has sprung to mind-there may have been one laying aroud her entryway which was not seen in the morning. I can't imagine why there would be a plank sitting around Calhoun, but it's a possibility.
Times of London article. Interesting bit:
"According to figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, between 1973 and 2002 Russia supplied 57 per cent of Saddam's arms imports, France 13 per cent and China 12 per cent. The US supplied at most just 1 per cent and Britain significantly less than that. Brazil supplied more weaponry to Saddam than the US and Britain combined." Compliments of Dan Fichter from the Yale College Students for Democracy.
Sunday, April 06, 2003
If this is true, it is very disturbing. And I can't imagine Josh posting it if he weren't sure it was true. The story is of a gang of pro-war students trying to break into the room of a war protester and threatening her life. Supposedly it will be in the YDN soon.