I had been invited to talk on KALW about my new book, but encountered push back from some callers accusing me of being anti-American because I tried to discuss China and its political economy in a rational manner. What became quickly apparent is the enormous prejudice people carry about China, which of course is reminiscent of the Japan-bashing during the 1980′s. My book never defends human rights abuses, yet callers, and even the radio host, could not seem to separate China from that single issue. Why single out and castigate China so severely when others have committed similar or worse offenses? To make an analogy, it is like hating your own father because he smokes and that is not agreeable with you. Who in his right mind would write off his own father for one mistake he is making? Similarly, why write off an entire country when its leaders make some mistakes? As I point out, no nation is perfect, and I don’t advocate all things China. But surely, China does do some things right, and the rational approach is to find out what that is. Here is what one commenter forwarded me in an email today after listening to the podcast:
Subject: my comment post re: “Today on [KALW’s] Your Call: What do we need to know about China?”
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2012 03:18:50 -0800
“Today on [KALW’s] Your Call: What do we need to know about China?”
Joseph from Berkeley
“First of all, all those white-American “liberals” who go on and on about — go *crazy* criticizing — Tibet: most of them never say a damn word about — and certainly don’t go crazy criticizing — European/American Zionists/Israel/pre-Israel colonizing Palestine and oppressing the *indigenous* Palestinian people for the past 75 years. Oh, Israel, and the oppression of the Palestinians, most white-American “liberals” *support*!
Now, *GEEE*!: what’s up with “Andy from Redwood City” going off on his [anti-China] rant like a madman!?
China certainly has an egregious human rights record, with often unpredictable press repression, practically no free expression/dissent, and certainly lots of internet censorship.Their constantly “happy talk”, English language TV news makes Russian domestic news look like a paragon of freedom of the press.
But, it’s not *China’s* fault that U.S. politicians go after every so-called “free trade” agreement it can; and it’s not *China’s* fault that *American* corporations have exported/outsourced jobs to many 3rd & 2nd World countries, not just China. And the Chinese “trade war” that Andy was ranting about!? (Would he say that about German hi-tech medical/scientific instruments corporations, Siemens is everywhere, or the Euro-zone’s Airbus that now outstrips Boeing?) “Trade war” says that it’s *Chinese* companies systematically and unfairly trying to undercut U.S. companies and drive them out of business. But, that’s not what’s happening. It’s been *U.S.* companies deciding to shift their manufacturing to China and *many other* comparatively low-wage, non-European countries (including Mexico!) where people aren’t as madly materialistic and have to have the very latest iPhone/whatever or the largest flat panel TV they can fit into their living room.
China is not only massively financing U.S. debt (which China didn’t force the U.S. to incur), China, under the *U.S.’s* contemporary (unfair) economic structure (in major part where the U.S. wants to spend trillions of dollars on wars, the military, and corporate bailouts, instead of *productive* orientations of the U.S. economy), is basically making it possible for much of the American working-middle-class to even barely *exist* as such through the existence of cheap/affordable Chinese consumer goods! — like even the clothes on our and our children’s backst!
And then “Andy from Redwood City” racistly accuses Ann Lee of “being against us [real Americans]“, and “not being an American”, and then he sarcastically adds, “…my dear”. I bet that Andy has never accused Newt Gingrich or all those other crazy white Tea Party-like/pandering politicians, or the white corporate execs who’ve perhaps exported Andy’s job, of “not being American”. Andy sounds like the kind of “real American” who goes out and clubs some Asian American to death — and wouldn’t even care if that Asian American is of Chinese ethnicity or not!: any Asian American who “*looks like* the enemy”. Of course, he doesn’t even have all his facts right. I guess — especially any time some white guy gets unemployed and goes on some barroom rant against China, or Japan, or Korea, or India, etc. — that that “not even American” — epithet is always reserved for *Asian* Americans.
I’m glad I couldn’t listen to this show closely, live, yesterday morning: it would have torn me up — listening to this caller’s implicitly racist rant — because I had already called in just this past Friday and like to space my calls further apart.
Thanks, Jdspear, for pointing out the Vincent Chin case, the 1982 murder of a *Chinese* American, beaten to death with a baseball bat by one or two Detroit auto workers who blamed him for the increase in *Japanese* auto imports. (Also see YouTube videos and Wikipedia article.) Small Japanese cars which actually were better than most small American cars because the U.S. auto industry has gotten ‘fat’, complacent and lazy, trying to skate by on its fomer laurels. And Americans — always in denial when they find out when other countries do things better — thought they were better than anyone else in the world because we have the largest military machine in the world.