I Wish I Had Said That:

The other day a friend sent me an email with this link to the blog of law professor Ann Althouse. (READER WARNING BEFORE YOU CLICK ON THE LINK:  Professor Althouse’s site links to the website of Rush Limbough, which apparently offends some readers.)

The quote, below, on Professor Althouse’s website, (a quote I wish I said) highlights the human rights abuses in China:“The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner hosted a dinner for the guy holding the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner in prison…”

I would have felt proud if at the dais of the recent State Dinner for China the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner had placed an empty chair for the 2010 winner as a noble silent protest. I guess I’d never make it in the diplomatic corp. I’m told etiquette dictates you shouldn’t insult someone you invite for dinner.  So maybe the root question is should there have been a State dinner at all for China’s President Hu Jintao.  Some people, including former White House Advisor Karl Rove think we shouldn’t have.

China may be one of our largest trading partners, and may be our largest foreign creditor (most US debt is owned domestically). But China is a repressive regime.  It saddens me greatly that some in America view the United States and the People’s Republic of China as moral equivalents.  In America people aren’t imprisoned for fidelity to the Roman Catholic church, or any church, for that matter.  Not so, in China.  In America, women are not forced to abort a second child.  Not so in China.  The list goes on.  (For more details visit the sites of the Population Research Institute and the Stamford-based Cardinal Kung Foundation.)

After visiting China, after meeting in Greenwich and Stamford with the late Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-Mei, Archbishop of Shanghai who was imprisoned in China for 30 years because of his fidelity to the Pope, and after doing other research our family decided to boycotted Chinese products, and has done so for the last decade.  NOT an easy feat.  (Indeed, an entire book, A Year Without “Made in China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy, has been written by Sara Bongiorni who tried to do the same thing for a single year.)

Maybe it would have been impolitic for an empty chair protest. And maybe for diplomatic or other reasons we needed to have a State dinner (after all Jesus dined with tax collectors). But there is no excuse for ignoring the largest repressors of religious freedom in the world. Instead of an empty chair at the White House dinner, perhaps we should all empty our shopping carts of Chinese products.