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...)


O'Reilly said...

We can be proud of our country and at the same time, we can recognize that we have a long way to go... to create a more perfect union.

Our Independence from the monarchy was a big step forward and it merits a great celebration. We have a republic, if we can keep it.

Next let's see if we can get our surveillance agencies to agree to FISA court oversight including obtaining warrants and thorough minimization procedures, and also agree that anyone who broke the law in the past by conducting un-warranted surveillance on Americans, without a FISA court order, ought to be subject to the full consequences, under the law.

If not a nation of laws, then we are lost and we will never be better than countries who make no pretense about respecting the rights of citizens.

Happy Independence Day Larry and congratulations on the new addition to the Kelley family.

Anonymous said...

Larry, et al ---

I am probably glad that the first attempt got crunched because I might have put stuff I ought not on the web.

There really is no difference between Amherst and China. Some can speak freely and most can not.

In Amherst, it is the UM students who are silenced - I am in a different situation because (a) I have *national* backup and (b) I had to use it a decade ago....

But be very careful about saying that folk have free speech in Amherst because a lot of technical Amherst residents (UM kids) simply don't....

Ed Cutting, MEd, CAGS

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Can you tell us more about how these UM students do not have free speech?

Anonymous said...

As to UM Students, there is always Adam Prentice.

Yes, I had a police scanner on that night. And yes, I grew up (on the ocean) listening to the radio in my sleep. And I refer to this as a murder...because I know what really happened.