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E-Letter To Chris Matthews, Jude Wanniski and Mark Weisbrot Re: Great China Commentaries

In our opinion, the three of you have written three of the best commentaries on the recent standoff between the United States and China. Your writings, separately and combined, represent a voice of reason in the midst of a turbulent political storm that caused many to fly off at the handle in an anti-China rage, fueled by uninformed patriotism and more than a whiff of American imperialism. Far from an exhibition of American self-hatred, your opinions and analysis were fair, thoughtful and demonstrated deep reflection. We applaud your efforts and hope that each of you will continue along the path of peace - paved with constructive criticism and independent thinking.

Here are our brief thoughts on each of your contributions:

Chris Mathews - "New Strategy For China", San Francisco Chronicle

Your courageous stand on your Hardball program on MSNBC caught the eye of our editor, Charles Muhammad, who was thoroughly impressed with the manner in which you brought a historical context to the heated debates taking place on the political talk shows. When many, even in the United States Congress, were, in effect, calling for China's head on a platter, you were reminding the legislative body of this country as well as your viewing audience that 5,000 years of Chinese history, culture and pride preceded not just this incident, but the very birth of the United States. Your column continues this valuable and balanced perspective emphasizing that the John Wayne-posturing, so common among American politicians, can reach a point of diminishing returns. We also share your opinion that it was a good thing that Colin Powell's statesmanship prevailed. At we throw up a red flag whenever Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's voice overpowers General Powell's. Sure enough, immediately after the standoff ended and Secretary Powell was in the Balkans, Rumsfeld was rallying the hawks in the defense establishment around the belief that the Chinese pilot was reckless, out of control and responsible for the accident. This was only days after President Bush had written a letter offering his condolences to the wife of the pilot and a day before the 24 Americans were back on the soil of the continental U.S. How's that for good timing?

Jude Wanniski - "Moral Equivalence or Golden Rule",

Your commentary offers a lucid explanation as to why China and the rest of the world quite often view and speak of the United States in very unflattering terms. Your reference to "moral equivalency" and how the United States applies one set of rules to itself and another to the rest of the world really hit home with us. Last Friday we had the opportunity to watch the China state news, looking for the Chinese side of things, only to be greeted by pictures of the riots, which took place in Cincinnati last week. Here we were watching China's "nightly news" awaiting another perspective on the standoff and what we received alongside of it was an argument broadcast on Chinese television, that America has some nerve to lecture China about human rights violations when it has yet to solve its own racial problem and when its police officers are still murdering young Black men. Interesting stuff that dovetailed rather nicely with your point that America expects China to tolerate US spy planes operating only 12 miles from its border when it won't even allow foreign planes to come within 200 miles of its own shores. Because America is "more moral" than China, or any other country in the world, such a peculiar arrangement is to be accepted. You did us all a service in questioning the validity of this worldview and how hypocritical it makes America appear, especially overseas.

Michael Weisbrot - "Should We Police World", Philadelphia Inquirer

Your commentary made us reflect over the belief held by many, that America is a modern Rome. Dr. Martin Luther King made that comparison decades ago and Nation Of Islam Leader Minister Louis Farrakhan makes such an argument today. Both men, being serious students of scripture and history, recognized the stunning similarities between the United States of America and Rome of yesterday. Your column raises one of the areas that serve as the basis of comparison between the US and the Roman Empire - the US today, like Rome of yesterday, has an enormous standing army that seeks to police a world far beyond its borders. You clearly articulate the costs of such an undertaking and the contradictions that eventually are exposed by such a strategy. You make an excellent point in your commentary that President Bush and the "non-apology apology", attempted to balance America's role as the world's policeman, with the changing landscape of a global economy and the interests of America's corporate elite, who may actually love Chinese profits as much as they love the United States. You do well to compare America's ambitions with that of the emperor. American imperialism, in our estimation, is alive and well. Maybe America will heed your advice, the very opinion that Rome ignored, leading to her demise.

So, Chris, Jude and Michael, in our opinion, you are all patriots of the first order. Men who are willing to tell their countrymen and leaders truths that they do not wish to hear. You may not win any elections or popularity contests behind the truths that you have spoken, but you have certainly earned our respect. The three of you are certainly in the minority among your peers but hopefully not for long. So keep writing and always remember, the pen is mightier than the sword.


Cedric Muhammad

Tuesday, April 17, 2001

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