have been whining for years about the traffic jams clogging up all
the major highways in the Twin Cities. I can now guffaw, for I have
seen true traffic jams in a land of 1.3 billion people.
is not a street in China without a person or ten to be seen, no
matter what time of day, night, morning
while many US cities
close down after 1 AM. There is no way to imagine how big the number
1.3 billion is until you have walked the streets of Chongqing city,
pop. 18 million.
and the US differ slightly in size, but for every American you see,
imagine eight more, and that is China. And while you're imagining
this, push 6 out of those eight over to the East side of the Mississippi.
is a very important difference. It determines how many square feet
a person has to live, how many jobs he has to choose from, how long
he has to wait for anything, how much a farmer has to grow, how
much garbage there is to dispose of and so on.
the US, a house of one's own is quite possible. In China, virtually
unthinkable. A backyard just for fun? You must be kidding. Two cars
in a garage and one out on the driveway? Hardy-har-har.
parents looked through all of my photos today and they were most
taken by the peasants (which make up 80 percent of that vast population).
They had to giggle at the scrawny toothless old man and the bald
old woman with a sofa-size bag on her back. They shook their heads
when I showed them the fellas hewing stone out of a cliff, or chopping
a gutter out of the pavement with a hammer and chisel.
father commented on the peasant photos: "This is a China photo."
Most Americans expect peasants and poverty to be in any photograph
of China, not the skyscrapers and malls and glitter of Shanghai,
Canton and Hong Kong.
and population separate modern China from the USA more than culture
ever could. Cultural and social differences can foster friendships,
whereas differences in the standard of living foster enemies.
casual glance at Minneapolis and Chongqing will reveal stark economic
differences, but the similarities are more difficult to see. Like
the patriotism sweeping both nations, which didn't really register
until I arrived in the USA. And drove the streets. And watched the
news. And listened to the grown-ups talk.
ME OF CHINA...
there a difference between "The Falun Gong is an international
anti-government tool," and "God bless America and our
troops in Afghanistan"?
Young and Melissa Etheridge got together and sang in praise of a
wounded nation rising from the ashes to strike at Evil's heart.
Neil Young!? Flags are everywhere and everybody loves the
cops. Businesses have signs proclaiming love for the President,
hate for Bin Laden and support for more war -- in the name of freedom,
justice and the American Way.
Fei and Andy Lou teamed with Jackie Chan to sing about the glory
of Beijing and the Communist Party. Flags are everywhere and everybody
loves the cops. Businesses have signs proclaiming love for the President
hate for any nay-sayer and support for order -- in the name
of stability, justice and the Chinese-Socialist Way.
has always tried to mold itself after CNN -- it seems now they don't
have to. "The New War," "America Strikes Back,"
"America Mourns," etc. are all program themes the Chinese
have down pat. China
doesn't have a war taking up all the airwaves, but specials on the
Falun Gong, Wang Wei's death, the Strike Hard campaign, Taiwan,
disputes with Japan over books, mushrooms and temples, etc. have
the same musical score in the same spots, the same grave reporter
and the same tearful mother, daughter, father.
nationalism is rampant and growing. Most Pacific Rim and South Asian
countries have viewed this development with apprehension. But what
danger lies in a country whose army would rather focus on making
money and building factories than making war and building tanks?
of the new US nationalism? The US has the will, motive and strength
to stretch into any corner of the world and do anything it wants.
Who is worried about rampant and growing US nationalism and why?
YOU RATHER BE?
executes more people than the rest of the world combined. 68 offenses
carry the death penalty. Recently, Yunnan put forth the suggestion
that injection might be better than a bullet to the head. Beijing
reluctantly agreed. Students of mine were taken out into the fields
to watch an execution. Migrant workers are routinely rounded up
and imprisoned to make room on the streets for the 100,000 (and
more to come) railway workers recently laid off.
government bailout for them. A Catholic Church leader and champion
of freedom dies and the government rules out a large funeral. A
Chinese writes about his land with candid love, earning him international
acclaim, and Beijing ignores him. People are dying of AIDS and spreading
it around, Beijing ignores it. 13,000 people are arrested and detained
in another Strike Hard "success" and nobody in China says
a word. Uighers are executed and/or imprisoned and nobody in China
says a word. Internet bars are closed by the thousands each month.
seems those who have the most to fear from rampant Chinese patriotism
live in China.
I love about the US is that the freedom does exist to attend a funeral,
talk about AIDS, applaud a rebel writer, expose the hypocrisy of
a round up of all dark swarthy men and successfully overturn a conviction.
created legislation that is a staple for most nations in the world.
China's government keeps a very close eye on its people with National
Ids and a "work unit" that knows where you live, where
you work, how many kids you have, what you own. Granted, our vaunted
Congress did next to nothing to prevent the USA PATRIOT Act from
passing, but there are millions logging on to the real free media
and getting informed.
far, the US government has refrained from closing down computer
labs at universities and confiscating personal computers. Instead,
the US offers Safeweb software and memberships to the Echelon club
to friendly countries with terrorist problems.
I fear rampant American nationalism and all the government expansion
that comes with it, but I would wager that those who fear it most
are not in the US.