It is commonplace in America today to hear that our president is a dangerous authoritarian, that our government is veering towards fascism, and that we are losing our place as a champion for freedom around the world. For many the desire to feign that they are seriously oppressed is powerful and deep. But a glance around the globe shows how misguided this belief is, and how it minimizes truly serious oppression.
Deeply troubling reports from the BBC show that China is rounding up and imprisoning up to 1 million Muslim Uighur people in the Xinjiang province. These are people who have committed no crime but are nonetheless locked up, and according to some reports beaten and tortured. China’s defense for these actions is that these people are merely being reeducated…
There is likely very little that the U.S. government can do to stop these camps and the internment of these innocent people in China. But at the very least, our elected officials and media could spend more time focused on it and talking about it. A million people being rounded up and thrown in camps because of their religion used to be something that got Americans’ attention. Today, not so much.
It is worth considering that part of the reason for this silence from and in the United States is that many Americans see our own current government as so flawed and oppressive that we have no moral high ground from which to criticize China. This is a dangerous development. Much of the influence that America has used to make the world more democratic historically stemmed from our deep belief that our system of government, our freedom and liberty, are worthy of replication around the globe.
But do Americans still believe in our system? That isn’t clear. Consider, for example, a recent viral article in Marie Claire titled, “Why Trump’s America Makes Me Regret Adopting My Daughters.” The author is worried that she made a “tragic mistake” adopting her girls from China.
This section particularly stood out: “I pulled those two beautiful babies away from a rising power and into a damaged democracy. I brought two girls of color into a society where it’s clear that their word and their bodies are worth less than a man’s—and where open, overt racism has become even more likely now than it was a decade ago. And unfortunately, my worries aren’t exactly tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoia.”