This post is related to the last post about Grace Wang’s experience. What I want to say in this blog article is, mixing and confusing issues is not a good strategy (George expressed the same thing in a comment)
Disagree with One Side in a Debate does not Mean Support the Other Side
It is quite common for people to make this mistake. I made this mistake all the time.
Just like the media war between CCTV and CNN. When I say CCTV is not reporting the truth, I can guarantee that I will receive one comment or two claiming that “don’t you think CNN won’t do this?” The problem is, I do think CNN will also do this, but by stating CCTV is doing something wrong does not imply that I support CNN. The same thing happens when I said CNN is reporting something wrong, I didn’t imply that CCTV is always right. It is “you” who think I am implying something, not me.
For a much bigger topic of China, it is even so. I often comment on news and issues in China. When I wrote about the negative side (for example, my blog started to get banned by GFW these days from time to time, due to the “sensitive” topic we have discussed), some people claimed that I am biased, and gave me evidence to show the economic development. Again, the point is, talking about the existence of the GFW does not imply that China don’t have a good economy. The other example is topics like Mega-Projects. Describing the exciting highways, and bridges didn’t imply I don’t know the cases of abusing tax payer’s money. I admit I don’t know everything (who does?) but not mentioning everything in every article does not mean I don’t know the existence of them.
It is the same for the recent hot discussion I saw in many threads. It is just like this: one guy says: “This apple is red”, and the other disagrees and says “Why do you think banana is not yellow? Here is the evidence to show how yellow a banana is” or “No. I don’t think so, didn’t you see the farmer who grow the apple is experiencing economical crisis”. Both arguments may be valid, but they make people confused, or in a frequently used term: “out of topic”. So, sticking to the discussion itself may be more helpful.
Not many people are interested in debating with Einstein about his theory of relativity, anyone can comment on the shape of a building. This is the reason why the life of an architect is more tougher than a physician, and pop-star is easier to be the daily topic than both architect or physician…
Just like that, everyone can talk about current international affairs, and everyone has something to say. So the concepts are often mixed, muddled, and confused. If most people (including myself) did it without a strong intention, media, organization, and governments did it very well intentionally. My reader George W. Shen commented about it better than I can:
My biggest problem with the Western media is that many issues are conveniently muddled. It applies to both sides of the propaganda but more so to the Western media outlets than to the Chinese side given the latest Tibet and Olympics chaos. There are many different issues involved and they should be debated separately. To name a few here, not in any particularly order –
The issue of Tibet
The issue of Dalai Lama
The issue of Western Media
The issue of Chinese Government
The issue of Olympics
The issue of Freedom & Democracy
The issue of Human Rights
Just because one supports freedom & democracy in China it doesn’t mean he/she must support the independence of Tibet. Just because one supports the autonomy of Tibet it doesn’t mean he/she must support Dalai Lama. Just because one supports Olympics it doesn’t mean he/she must support the communist party. And just because one supports freedom & democracy it doesn’t mean he/she must support the Western media. Similarly, just because there is free speech in the US, it doesn’t mean media outlets here are fair, unbiased, or even truthful. Just because there is no free speech in China, it doesn’t mean the government has no right to enforce the rule of law to ensure the safety of majority people.
These are totally different issues. It seems to me many people don’t get that. THE WORLD ISN’T JUST BLACK AND WHITE.
For the China side, it is the same. Among all the voices, the official way to call the whole group is Zangdu (or Tibet-Independence) since this is the most unacceptable thing people in China and can “unite” most of people to fight for the whole group. Just as I said, I disagree with this specific muddling strategy from both side, and I believe wise people should try to stand firmly at the side of truth, logic, rationale, instead of having to choose one from the existing two sides.
On Grace’s Case
So, based on the two stated reasons, I said “death threat” is not acceptable in any situation. Whether what Grace did was right or wrong is another issue, and please don’t mix it with the death threat or the illegal things happened in Grace’s home in Qingdao and please don’t draw a conclusion that Grace did everything right.
I also feel angry for the Chinese translation with analysis (thanks to lin posted the original Chinese here). The analysis is interpreting what Grace said to the worst extend,. Taking any article from my blog (or almost any article from any where), and adding sauces that way, you can demonize a person easily. Due to the ambiguity of language, there is no “right statement” under that kind of intentionally negative “analysis”, especially an article written by university student, not a seasoned politician. We did that for too many times during culture revolution, and anything can be interpreted to be evidence to show you are traitor of the country.
I agree that Grace is naive, or as in some comments, “politically naive“. Who aren’t? My question is, does someone have the right to be naive, or say something wrong? For sure, as adult, for anything we do, or we say, we need to be responsible for it, and accept all the consequences. Grace is of no exception. However, whether the consequence of “saying something incorrect”, or “standing on the wrong side of a perceived political movement” is criticize, or death thread is a question we need to discuss.
The reason I feel Grace was treated unfairly is because I clearly know that I will be treated the same way one day in my country, and so does many people who dare to show his/her opinions. The other reason is, although we have every reason to say Grace didn’t do everything right, she is doing great for her age. For the guess of her motivation of getting refugee status in US – a key reason many people don’t like her – this is not something worth debating. The chance to get famous by this way is lesser than winning a lottery. For the opinion that by publishing an article on newspaper, she did something that negatively impacted China’s image. I agree that it has negative impacts, but it is not all her fault. I would rather fight to make things right in the systems in China and remove mob mentality from people, instead of pretending those don’t exist. I hope my country can be better by solving all the problems we have, so we can be more confident to face the world, instead of complaining a girl who happened to be used as an ideal case to reveal the existence of these problems.
P.S. Before someone asks about my statement of whether I am at the side of Grace Wang (as I am often asked), I want to clarify – in case there are misunderstanding for this post – that I try to avoid simply saying: “I am on this side or the other side”. Just as I am not on the side who claim Grace is a traitor, I am not on the side of Grace either. What I can say is, I agree with Grace on this, or disagree with her on that, instead of simple statement like “with her or against her”. To be more exact, in this post and in the last post, I even didn’t specifically tough the topic of what Grace did, or write. I just stated the fact that I don’t agree with how she is treated.
I have past the age to claim whatever some person said (Grace or whoever) is what I believe in… In this sense, I am not on her side.