Sunday, February 22, 2009

Leithart on China: He Probably Speaks for Many...including me

Peter J. Leithart is a Biblical scholar widely respected and read by people from all camps of the Church, conservative, liberal, and moderate. Few of his blog posts deal with political issues, like this one, where he shows no restraint.

There's an argument to be made that his negative reaction Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statements in China isn't really a political pronouncement either. Instead, I see him playing the role played by prophets in ancient Israel: speaking truth to power, demanding that those in power consider what is just. Clinton's statements ignore the call of justice altogether.

In expressing disappointment that the US Secretary of State doesn't want little things like the Chinese government's massive human rights abuses, repression, or persecution of people for their religious views, to get in the way of Chinese investment in the US, Leithart is not just expressing a view held by millions of Americans who don't like the regime in Beijing. He's also speaking of for millions for whom the Biblical call to justice, whether in ensuring equality here at home or abroad, is deeply important, be they liberal, conservative, or moderate.

I hope that someone points out to our Secretary of State that it was primarily to keep business flowing--the apparent touchstone of her policy toward China--that a guy by the name of Chamberlain gave Czechoslovakia away to Hitler. That didn't turn out very well.

Every US administration since that of Richard Nixon has, more or less, sucked up to the tyrants in Beijing. The Chinese, as a result, may have a bit more money in their pockets, but they're no more free and we in the US have lost two things: the moral high ground and an economy unencumbered by a malevolent, amoral regime that cares nothing for human life.

Clearly, the US government cannot and should not go out of its way to pick fights with Beijing. We must cultivate as positive a relationship as possible without earning the enmity of future generations of Chinese who will, inevitably, throw off the shackles of the current regime. (We must also work to contain the Chinese government and its political, economic, and military aspirations to dominate Asia, the Pacific, and the US by working mightily on our relationships with Japan and India.) But statements like those made by Clinton in China would seem to make the US a co-conspirator with the Beijing thugs. That's not change anyone can believe in!

Let's hope that the new President will hear the voices of people like Leithart and change his Secretary of State's mind on China.

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