When I first tried, unsuccessfully, to log onto my blog site I assumed it was a temporary issue – too many people, bad hotel internet, etc. – until the problem persisted. I only had a problem when I tried to go to the WordPress site. I was able to log onto Google and other sites. So I tried Facebook.com, knowing it would be blocked. I received the same error message on Facebook as I had on WordPress. That’s when it dawned on me. It wasn’t an internet problem, it was a civil liberties problem. Welcome to China!
I started testing other websites. I had no problem going to BBC.com, NPR.org or TeaLeafNation.com. I wondered what was the purpose behind blocking certain sites but not others? I suppose BBC, NPR and other don’t allow easy posting – though they do allow posting if you log in. So is it communication that they fear? I tried Tumblr.com, bingo – it wouldn’t load. It isn’t information that is blocked, it’s discussion of that information and presenting of thoughts and opinions about that information.
I began to feel the outrage of a person who has always lived in a land of freedom. How dare they restrict my ability to speak my mind? But then I heard the news from the US and I lost some of my outrage. Bradley Manning had been convicted. Our government had done to one individual what China does on a broader basis; are the two so very different? And what about Snowden? No longer could I assert that my country is superior to all others. Sure we’re better in many ways but we’ve started on a slippery slope downward. The shame is that the slide has happened under the leadership of a Democrat president, one who I campaigned for and supported 110%.
The Huffington Post site (yes, I was able to access it) featured this on their front page:
Convicted On 19 Counts, Faces 100+ Years In Jail… ACQUITTED Of ‘Aiding Enemy,’ Averting ‘Potentially Catastrophic Effect On Freedom Of Speech’… Verdict Deals Blow To Investigative Journalism… FLASHBACK: U.S. Accused Of ‘Cruel, Inhuman’ Treatment Of Manning… AMERICAN JUSTICE: Top Abu Ghraib Commander’s Punishment – $8,000 Fine
Bradley Manning has the book thrown at him, while military commanders – who allowed unthinkable behavior that provided fodder to our enemies – barely get their hands slapped!
The comments on the HP site ranged from:
George W. Bush: Fabricated evidence used to murder 1.5 million people for profit in Iraq, and is a free man.
Bradley Manning: Exposed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq and will remain in prison for treason.
We set up rules, regulations and laws governing personal and professional conduct for members of our military forces and (Bradley Manning) violated those.
I respect the right to have and express and opinion. So here’s mine:
Following both WWII and Vietnam we, as a people, determined that “following orders” was not a justification for criminal behavior even in the context of war. We established a level of humanity demanded even from those in the military. Bradley Manning saw criminal behavior in the disguise of military action and did the only thing he could do – he released the information through a source that wouldn’t quash it from the public. History will applaud his actions just as surely as it will denounce the actions of the war criminals he exposed and the action taken by this administration.
Note: I wrote this on July 31st but was unable to post it in Beijing. I am posting this now from Shanghai. Yes, I was able to post it from China just not from Beijing! It would be as if I could post in Boston but I couldn’t in NY.