FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

China’s Report No Cariacture

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

The New York Times was almost apoplectic Sunday over a human rights “report card” issued by China’s Foreign Affairs Department on the United States.

That report, a response to the annual report on China’s human rights situation issued by the U.S. State Department, called attention to a number of areas where the U.S. is in violation of universally accepted norms of behavior.

Having lived for two years in China ­ a fascist-style military dictatorship where the law is simply another tool of repression for those in authority, and where people are routinely locked up, tortured, deprived of their livelihood and even their lives for such transgressions as posting comments on a website, protesting a corrupt boss or conducting prayer services in a private home, and a place where perceptions of America can be pretty bizarre–I was expecting something comic after reading in the Times that the report on the U.S. “approaches caricature.”

In fact, putting aside whom it was doing the talking, the report was pretty damned accurate, and devastating.

American society is characterized by rampant violent crimes, severe infringement of people’s rights by law enforcement departments and lack of guarantee of the right to life, liberty and security, the Chinese report said, noting that in addition to the threats from uniformed law enforcement, some 31,000 Americans were killed by firearms. The report also noted America’s record two million prison inmates, and the fact that three times that many are on parole or probation.

Caricature? Hardly. The number of people being jailed in the U.S. is a national scandal, particularly considering the percentage who are black and Latino, and the fact that most are there for non-violent offenses. And no surprise there: Nearly every time I am on the road and see a car pulled over by a trooper, I discover that the driver is black. Unless blacks are uniquely prone to speeding, there is an epidemic of racial profiling.

American democracy is manipulated by the rich and malpractice is common, the report continues, noting that elections in the U.S. are “in fact a contest of money.” Really. Can anyone honestly call this a caricature? I remember when I was teaching a group of journalism graduate students in Shanghai, I received my mail ballot from home, which at the time was a small town in upstate New York. I was happy to receive it because I wanted to show it to my class, where the students were anxious to see first-hand how American democracy works. Imagine my chagrin when I opened the envelope and saw that the ballot was composed entirely of single candidates for each post. Republicans so dominated the upstate region that no one bothered to run against them for any town or county post! “These look just like our ballots!” the students said in amazement. Nor in our current red state/blue state polity, are things much different across most of the country, where campaign funding laws, or the lack thereof, make incumbency virtually a guarantee of re-election.

In the area of economic rights, the Chinese report said poverty, hunger and homelessness “haunt the world’s richest country.” Here I’d have to disagree. While the figure they used (from the U.S. Census Bureau-36 million living in poverty-is correct, it is hardly a condition that “haunts” the majority living above the poverty line, since our derelict corporate media don’t cover the poverty beat, and our economically segregated communities make it easy for people to ignore the suffering in the midst of plenty. Still, noting that a sixth of the nation lives in poverty is no caricature. It’s a fact.

Racial discrimination? The report says it permeates every aspect of society, while the new post 9-11 homeland security regulations especially target ethnic minorities, foreigners and immigrants. Does anyone want to challenge the accuracy of that depiction?

As for the rights of women and children, the report called attention to the deplorable rate of rapes and sexual abuse, with some 400,000 children forced into prostitution and sexual abuse. This ugly reality, while also true for China, cannot be brushed aside here.

Finally the Chinese report addressed the abuse of foreigners by U.S. authorities, noting the scandalous violations of the rights of prisoners of war, the history of invasions and unprovoked military assaults on other nations, and the estimated 100,000 civilian deaths in Iraq.

For my part, I was surprised the Chinese report didn’t go further. It could have mentioned, for example:

the failure of the U.S. to abide by international law in allowing foreigners arrested on serious criminal charges in the U.S., including murder, to contact their embassies;

the shameful inadequacy of funding for schools in poor communities, the dumping of toxic waste and the siting of pollution-causing power plants in low-income communities; and

the theft of private property through improper use of eminent domain and draconian drug laws, as well as other abuses.

China is a prime human rights offender, but that should not prevent us from looking honestly into the mirror that it has held up to our own society and government.

If anything is a caricature, it is the article on the Chinese report, in which The Times appears as a caricature of real independent journalism.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail