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:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail