Freedom took another nosedive in China this week, when Yang Tianshui, a Chinese Internet writer, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for writing essays. Yes, I said “writing essays.”
What could he have possibly written that would garner a 12-year prison sentence, you ask?
Was he advocating the violent overthrow of the Chinese government with nuclear weapons? No.
Did he propose terrorist attacks against the Chinese citizenry? Nope.
Yang was charged with posting essays on the Internet that argued for free elections in China. Yes, 12 years in a Chinese prison-which, from what I’ve read, is almost as bad as the Soviet gulags-for merely writing essays advocating that which most of the world takes for granted. Freedom.
This kind of oppression is nothing new to Yang or other Chinese writers who support a free China. Yang was released from prison back in 2000 after serving a 10-year sentence for condemning the attack against pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Scores of other journalists and writers who expose the truth of the Chinese government’s brutal suppression of free speech and thought have also met similar fates, if not worse.
Despite the blatant human rights abuses perpetuated by the Chinese government against its citizens, our own government, as well as many other governments that supposedly value freedom, simply capitulate to the Chinese government in exchange for access to their vast consumer population.
You may remember the fanfare that greeted President Hu Jintao of China when he met with lawmakers from the state of Washington to Washington D.C.. The only ones to talk about Chinese oppression were a few protestors at the events Hu attented before they were taken away by security. Lawmakers gladly kissed his rear.
Our media is no better. Yes, those who bitch and moan about a secretive Bush administration, secret prisons for terrorists or listening in on the telephone calls of suspected terrorists do nothing to enlighten the American people about the truly heinous abuses of freedom around the world. Yet, they still somehow find time for three weeks to cover a vice president who accidentally shot his hunting partner, a week to talk about Exxon’s excessive profit this year or four months to discuss a single girl missing in Aruba.
Why don’t most of us care? Is it because those who are being oppressed are Chinese and do not carry the same physical characteristics as Westerners? Is our entire nation so subconsciously racist that we simply ignore the plight of those who do not look like us? Would we be this apathetic if Germany or England became a communist state and sent people to prison for supporting freedom or forced people to have abortions? Or, have we become so self-consumed that we don’t care about anybody other than ourselves?
Whatever the answer is, we must change it. If we don’t, instead of being a nation built upon the idea that ALL men and women deserve freedom, we will be a nation refounded on the shoulders of moral hypocrisy.