Bush Let Us Down In China

Jonathan S. Tobin writes:

The White House said President Bush’s primary purpose while in Beijing for the start of the Olympics was to "show respect" to the Chinese people.
 
He demonstrated this "respect" by avoiding dissidents and by not attending any worship services by faith denominations that suffer persecution by that country’s Communist government. Like many other tourists, he was there to watch the athletes and lend the good name of the American republic to the whitewashing of a despotic regime – still the world’s largest tyranny – whose innumerable crimes have become a footnote to its successful pursuit of Western cash.
 
           Bush once seemed to base the entire foreign policy of his presidency on the notion of democracy promotion. But by kowtowing to the Beijing regime, he revisited a role once played with gusto by two other Republican presidents a generation ago, when Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford embraced détente with the Soviet Union and similarly avoided meetings with that evil empire’s internal critics.
 
While the two situations are not completely analogous, the recent death of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian literary giant and symbol of resistance to communism, makes such comparisons unavoidable.
 
           Nearly 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, few young people had even heard of the 89-year-old writer. And for those who had, the image that many retained was that of the cranky old man who raged against the materialism of the West, as well as that of the Russia that emerged from the nightmare of communism. His books, while famous, are, with one exception, largely unread.
 
As Norman Podhoretz wrote in Commentary magazine in 1985, when Solzhenitsyn’s anti-communism was still deeply relevant to contemporary politics, "The Gulag Archipelago is one of the most famous books ever written," but few had actually read it. He allowed that A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was widely read, but that in general Solzhenitsyn’s works were generally "more reviewed than read."
 
And yet Solzhenitsyn remains one of the most important persons of the 20th century. His books did as much to bring down the most murderous regime of the modern age as the work of any other person or nation.
 
The publication of Ivan Denisovich made the suffering of the tens of millions imprisoned in Soviet slave labor camps real for a world that had denied they existed. The Gulag Archipelago documented in his unique style one of the greatest crimes in history and gave a voice to its hitherto silenced victims.
 
Even more dangerously, it pinned the blame for this evil not just on one man – Josef Stalin – as many liberals and Soviet sympathizers tried to do, but on his predecessor Vladimir Lenin and the entire belief system of socialism.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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