Friday, July 4, 2008
Happy Birthday America
Here in this far flung city in the South West region of China—consider the “boonies”—I can have breakfast at Starbucks, lunch at Kentucky Fried Chicken, dinner at Pizza Hut, catch a cab instantly to go shopping at Wal Mart and then retire for a luxurious night at the Sheraton.
Other than seeing only one other westerner over the past week, this city of 3.5 million could easily pass for Boston or New York (locals even wear the white “I love (red heart) China.”
China Daily, the overly pro-establishment newspaper, (kind of reminds me of the Amherst Bulletin) carried a Front Page tearjerker article yesterday including a photo of an attractive young woman in a wedding dress clutching a framed photo of a soldier in uniform.
He had recently perished of “acute exhaustion” after a month of performing earthquake relief. He was being hailed as a “martyr.” A few pages later another photo shows a supine child on a stretcher saluting the “Peoples Liberation Army” soldiers carrying him out of the rubble.
Another Front Page story briefly covered a riot of 30,000 citizens over the death of a 17-year old middle school girl. Rioters thought she was raped and murdered by the relative of a government official. The government denied the charge and claimed she committed suicide. And I’m sure that is the end of the story.
Because the one thing that distinctly differentiates this county from home is that one dare not criticize the government.
In China, my repeated requests to remove a public official over residency would probably land me in jail. And in fact, if the right Chinese official happened to see the AP wire story where that high-ranking local Amherst official branded me a “stalker” the adoption would have been cancelled (at that point I probably would have become a stalker).
At the recent Select Board discussion of the July 4’TH Parade, His Lordship SB Chair Gerry Weiss described America as a country that slaughtered native Americans, enslaved blacks, and withheld from women the right to vote.
But that is the America of the past. Like the dragons in Chinese architecture, I prefer to look forward. America is, quite simply, the best--and she continually strives to become even better.
Something to celebrate!(There but for the grace of God...)