What's unsettling some ninety-six hours plus since Liu Xiaobo's name was announced is that the government of China has been allowed to behave badly, as they so often do, and no one in any government anywhere tells them to take a time-out or go boil their heads. Poor misunderstood, practically capitalistic, but still totally totalitarian China. They turned people into dog food in Tiananmen Square in 1989 (how would you like to have been the guy in the People's Army motor pool who had to hose dissident body parts off the tank treads? Those ZTZ 99's don't wash themselves, you know) and aside from Liu Xiaobo, nobody dares say anything.
As cynical as I am, my hat's off to them. Their reaction makes sense to me. Where else are we in the West going to get cheap apparel-though I'm not sure how cheap it actually is since we, and almost every other industrialized nation on earth, destroyed our own textile industries getting bargain basement prices on everything from silk ties to dress shoes made in Sino-Sweat shops.
And how about toys, lead paint and all? And don't forget those special surprises in the Happy Meals, and ten thousand other household items that we buy without thinking about the cost-and NO, I don't mean the tag on the bag with the register price-I mean the cost in health, freedom, pollution and a dozen other dimensions that the Chinese government has long since figured out we really don't give a fried rat's hindquarters about. Orwell's Animal Farm comes to mind and I fear if we all take our gloves off that what we'll learn about hooves may scare us to death.
There doesn't seem much chance his own government will allow Liu Xiaobo to attend the actual ceremony in Stockholm and he may well fear they wouldn't let him back into his own country if he went. Don't worry-there's even less chance anyone will say anything about any of this. You today, me tomorrow. "There are many sides to reality. Choose the one that's best for you. It's like a walk in the park from a cell. And now you're keeping your own kind in Hell."