Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reasonably Enlightened?!

Thomas Friedman's column Our One-Party Democracy in yesterday's paper is crrrrrrrazy! Friedman argues China's autocracy is preferrable to our current slow-moving democracy.

Duh, autocrats can enact policies faster. But I can't think of any such state - past or present - I'd like to live in. Checks and balances, yo!

What bothered me most was Friedman's assertion China is a "reasonably enlightened" country. I don't know what that means, but it sounds ign'ant: Imprisoned bloggers, state-controlled churches, negligible property rights and comprehensive media censorship are not the traits of an enlightened society.

I know I've been influenced by living closer to it - and, this is anecdotal - but, whenever people come back from the mainland (read: traveling outside Beijing and Shanghai) they never fail to say, "It was really, really dirty." Reading Friedman makes me wonder how my perception of China has changed from being here, or how mine differs from the average American's. There's a whole lot more to it than the flagship cities.

I have a friend who works in Beijing, she only comes back to Taiwan once a month or so. She likes Beijing, but says when she stays too long she starts to feel trapped. The international news censorship is such that she finds she has to resolve just not to care about what is going on or deal with constant frustration of struggling to circumvent the censorship to find information.

I'm not even anti-China! I just think we ought to call it like it is.

Enlightened? Friedman, you crazy.


TCL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TCL said...

Perhaps Friedman should consider that the reasonably enlightened people of China can't even access his article on the NY Times over the Internet?

One isn't necessarily anti-China just because of one's disagreement with their authoritarian government. Although the Chinese government and many Chinese citizens often like to make that claim.

meiser said...

Bravo Leslie!

Friedman's brain went flat.