The November 1997 Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

Once again morality has been brushed aside in U.S.-China relations.U.S. President Bill "Butchers of Beijing" Clinton is getting a chance to entertain a man in part responsible for the Tiananmen Square massacre, and put on his serious face as he lectures Jiang Zemin about human rights...and then the trade deals are announced.

There are some good arguments to be made about a policy of engagement with China versus one that pits the western world against it. The Economist points out that trade and the desire to be a player on the world stage has made China moderate its tone both internally and externally. That is evident as prominent political prisoners continue to be jailed, and millions in Tibet continue to live under a régime which is systematically robbing their nation and destroying their culture. After the saber rattling over Taiwan, China has stated that it is open to negotiated settlement...but steadily refuses to admit that Taiwan is a free nation.

And China is freeing up its economic system...so long as you don't actually want to succeed there after battling monopolistic state-run firms. China is also showing new responsibility in its military sales...selling nuclear technology to nations only slightly bent on some genocidal campaign against a hated neighbour.

In a dinner toast, Clinton told Jiang he hoped their decisions would give "new meaning in our time to President Lincoln's call for a new birth of freedom."

A policy of engagement is proper, but only at the right level. A 21 gun salute and an elegant state dinner in Jiang's honor featuring chilled lobster and pepper crusted beef only sends the message that a murderous policy towards humanity gets you a good meal on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ironically, Jiang began his stateside visit at Williamsburg, VA where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason and other American patriots framed our democracy in rejection of tyranny.
The Federalist Digest, October 31, 1997

Things have changed in China, but for the most part the policies of the past continue. By feting Zemin, Clinton has only given credibility to a group of men responsible for murder, repression and slavery.

Richard Gere is a bad actor but he was right when he protested outside the White House on October 29.

"This is not a cuddly new China we're talking about," he said. "It's the same China we've known for the past 50 years."

And the same U.S. policy.

The November 1997 Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people I consider to be positive.

Which of the following fundamental rights is not guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? (Don't look it up before you answer the question!)

  • freedom of conscience and religion
  • freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other means of communication
  • freedom of ownership of property
  • freedom of peaceful assembly
  • freedom of association

The answer to the question is the freedom of ownership of property. A quick search of the Charter turns up no mention of property rights.

The Vinegar in Freedom Award goes to Calgary's Canadian Property Rights Research Institute which opened the doors on its website in October. CanPRRI's mission is to educate Canadians about property rights, something that is not even guaranteed in our much hailed Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

While I can't consider myself in complete agreement with CanPRRI (they believe that the government does have the right "to infringe upon those rights if it is seen to be in the general interest of a free and democratic society" Property Rights Primer, Sept/Oct, 1997), they will do a great service in an issue long ignored in Canadian politics and media.

Visit CanPRRI at http://www.canprri.org today and get educated in the fight for your rights!




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