July 12, 2003

Americans Are Crazy

It was good to be home for a while.

I was given the chance to witness the legalization of the "abominable act" of same sex marriage which of course will lead toward Hell and the rampant practice of sodomy and oral sex. And the introduction in Minnesota, the 44th State to do so, of the "conceal and carry" gun law. More people with guns on the streets seem to lead to a decrease in crime.

Americans are truly unique in the world. We walk the streets enshrouded with our own sense of independence and freedom. We (supposedly) have the freedom to walk an individual path devoid of outside help and/or influence: we all do our own thing and the least amount of dependence translates into the greatest amount of strength. It also means Americans feel safer carrying concealed weapons. We have become so divided; we embody the Panopticon.

Amazing, how so many people can live together, oblivious of each other, even despising each other and still be seen as one country, indivisible. And, of course. under God. The same God who punishes homosexuals through His faithful servants on earth. How are we any different from the Taliban, when we imprison people for private sexual acts?

Who's the More Free?

I often field questions concerning freedom (and everything else) in China from friends and relatives. Chinese have a saying (surprise!) loosely translated as: The Emperor has his laws, the people have their loopholes. What Americans consider corruption, Chinese consider freedom.

What Americans consider freedom, Chinese consider threats to national security.

This is evidence of a freer society in the US, as far as I am concerned, but I also found myself discussing the differences between Article 23 in Hong Kong and the PATRIOT Act in the US. In terms of content, not much difference if anything, the PATRIOT Act makes it very clear what the vaguely worded Article 23 would have the government do.

The major difference is that the PATRIOT Act was passed in record time with little opposition.

Perhaps Americans should note that 500,000 people took to the streets July 1st in Hong Kong to protest a law that carries stiff sentences for sedition and the publication of seditious material and Beijing responded. The Bush Administration trampled all over worldwide protests against the Iraq war, and now faces the lies it told to get "your average American Joe" behind the war effort. It's is interesting that in Hong Kong – now under the administration of a government noted for shutting down papers, sacking reporters and editors, jailing dissidents and executing others there is a thirst for civic participation. As a society, the people of Hong Kong rose up and said No. Could that ever happen again in the weary US?

I suppose the US has the Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else sinister Arabs hide as an excuse to curtail freedom, but Hong Kong has the specter of Tiananmen over every mass demonstration. The demonstrations in Hong Kong are eerily similar to those in 1989 calls for resignation from indignant protesters, splits in the leadership, international attention and the fear of economic repercussions keeping the government (relatively) honest. The protester in Hong Kong even called up Old Wang Dan and asked his opinion on the matter.

Farmer's Markets Will Save US

A while back I wrote a column about the curious tandem rise of supermarkets in China and open air markets in the US. The Farmer's Market in Minneapolis still meets every Thursday. Granted the majority of the stands are run by Hmong, but there are enough locals packing home-made beef jerky and not guns. Americans who would usually pass each other without a glance, hurrying to someplace really important, rubbed shoulders and haggled! It was beautiful.

–Sascha Matuszak

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Sascha Matuszak is a teacher living and working in China. His articles have appeared in the South China Morning Post, the Minnesota Daily, and elsewhere. His exclusive Antiwar.com column (usually) appears Fridays.

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