I am subscribed to, and get the occasional on-line form letter from, the American Jewish World Service, which is an organisation that has devoted itself, and admirably so, to exposing, bringing to the attention of the world's elites and peoples over the past few years, and in putting pressure on the Sudanese government and Chinese governments about the atrocities and crimes being commited in Darfur.
That said, received a letter from them this afternoon, asking if I would sign an open letter to President Bush asking him not to attend the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Beijing come August.
Well, and it was really a split-second decision I made here, I decided not to, and enclosed a reply to this letter, the text of which follows below, stating why.
To be honest, I have considerable regard for China and its people, even if their government is a fairly beastly one, and, especially after the comments made by Ms. Sharon Stone about the 6th May earthquake in Sichuan province being a sort of karmic pay-back(mentioned in the response below)for the Chinese occupation of Tibet and its government's treatment of the Dalai Lama, a fairly low opinion of the Dalai Lama's Western supporters, such as Ms. Stone and Mr. Richard Gere, and you better believe that much of that reply was motivated by that dis-taste, as well as by the contentions I make below.
Should China be in Tibet and supporting the Sudanese government??? No, of course not.
But, neither should we be in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor should we be supporting some of the people we do around the world, either.
We here in the States don't often seem to see that much of the world, rightly or wrongly, resents our pompous lecturing about human rights, democracy and freedom, while feeling perfectly free to sell arms and give money to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and unconditionally supporting the State of Israel's policies and actions towards the Palestinians.
Whatever the motivations behind such resentments, there is at least a grain of truth in the perception that the US can often be a hypocritical bully on the world stage, and that's a pity, because, in the end, that grain only helps germinate more resentment and anger towards the US and its citizens, and allows many people who'd otherwise have little defensible reason for hating the US to happily do that.
One last quick note here, and that's the name of the head of the AJWS, whose name was signed at the original message's bottom is Ruth Messinger. The only reason I mention that, is because I address her as "Ms. Messinger" at the message's beginning, and I don't want people wondering, "Who the Hell is this Messinger woman??".
Now that you know that perhaps over-much bit of detail, on with the message, and be seeing you.
Ms. Messinger: With all due respect, am gonna have to dissent here on three grounds, the first of which is that President Bush, as he's made quite demonstrably clear over the years, will do what he wants, regardless of what others think and feel.
Hence, our involvement in the idiotic mess called the Iraq War, and for the horrors that we subject "enemy combatants" to at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So, I rather doubt that he will pay much in the way of attention to any open letter, not even if sixty million people signed it.
Reason number two is, quite frankly, that such a refusal would, especially after the earthquake of 6th May, and Sharon Stone's stupid, pig-ignorant and utterly crass comments about Tibet and the earthquake being a sort of "karmic" pay-back for China's nasty little occupation of Tibet, be seen, not just by the Chinese government, but by many so-called ordinary Chinese, as another piece of beastly Yankee hypocritical swinishness, and I think they would have something of a point there. In the end, it would probably back-fire on us more than it would hurt the PRC, and especially its government, which, at least domestically, is rather more popular than it's been for quite some time now.
The third and final reason's, and please pardon the circular line of reasoning here, our own involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the bellicose noises that our Administration's been making about Iran for the past few years, have severely undercut whatever moral authority the US had before we went into those areas in the eyes of not just the Chinese government and people, but of much of the world as well.
Symbolic gestures like the one proposed in this open letter are all well and good, but, if the parties making them lack the kind of moral and other forms of credibility to back them up, the point is entirely lost.
If you were to reply to this message, you might say that such gestures are better than doing nothing at all. Most of the time, I'd agree with you.
But, in this case, I can't, for which I apologise.
Symbolic actions have their place, but, better by far, are actions that put direct pressure on the American, Chinese, Sudanese and other governments involved in the Darfur, as well as the United Nations and various Darfuri rebel groups, to end the fighting and atrocities in that region for good and all.
A lame-duck US President with a massively and deservedly tarnished reputation not attending the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics will have little to no effect on either Chinese policies towards Darfur and the Sudan, as well as Tibet, nor end the suffering on the ground in Darfur one iota.
Therefore, I must respectfully decline to go along with this campaign.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Yours, Donald Rilea.