For the last several months, secretary of state Antony Blinken and U.S. diplomats have been telling wobbly global allies that the struggle for control over the emerging new world order will pit “liberal democracies” against “authoritarian regimes.” In order to protect free speech, freedom of religion, due process, rule of law, and democratic government, the story goes, Europe must join with America in keeping the power of China and Russia in check.
Take a gander at these two recent headlines, and tell me how well the “liberal” United States is distinguishing itself from “authoritarian” China:
In the first news story, the Daily Caller’s Thomas Catenacci details the travails of Tong Ying-kit, a Hong Kong protester who was recently convicted of “inciting secession” and “acts of terrorism” for driving around on his motorcycle with a sign saying, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” during last year’s protests against Beijing’s crackdown on what remained of the city’s U.K.-inherited freedoms.
Tong participated in demonstrations on July 1, 2020, to protest China’s new national security law that drastically curtails Hong-kongers’ rights to criticize the Chinese Communist Party by restricting their freedoms of expression, assembly, and association. As if to put an exclamation point on the new law’s purpose, Tong was scooped up by police five days later for taking part in the protest and has remained in custody ever since.
Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific regional director Yamini Mishra released a statement after the conviction in which she lamented: “Today’s verdict underlines the sobering fact that expressing certain political opinions in the city is now officially a crime[.] … To convict Tong Ying-kit of ‘secession’ for displaying a flag bearing a widely used political slogan is a violation of international law, under which expression must not be criminalized unless it poses a concrete threat. This feels like the beginning of the end for freedom of expression in Hong Kong.”
How outrageous! How dare those commies roll up in the jewel of China’s economic crown and throw a peaceful protester in prison for waving around a flag with a popular Hong Kong political slogan! To criminalize personal opinion as a thoughtcrime? To accuse someone of “secession” for demanding freedom? To designate an ordinary citizen a “terrorist” for assembling with other like-minded citizens petitioning their government for a redress of certain grievances? This is what naked authoritarianism looks like!
This is why Secretary Blinken is correct when he argues that free, liberal democracies around the world should join hands and resolve never to allow China’s inexcusable, blunt-force totalitarianism to spread beyond its shores. I tell you, this is what separates America from those tyrants on the other side of the globe.
Wait…what’d you say? Take a look at the second article about the January 6 show trials in America? Why not?
Ron Paul writes: “The recent felony conviction and eight month prison sentence of January 6th protester Paul Hodgkins is an affront to any notion of justice. It is a political charge and a political verdict by a political court.”
A felony conviction? Surely the young American must have done something horrible to merit that type of punishment from our unbiased and politically agnostic criminal justice system. Hmm, it looks as though his crime consists of having taken selfies in the Senate chamber while wearing a Trump t-shirt and waving a Trump flag. Well, we don’t punish free expression in the “land of the free.” There must be something more here. Let’s take a look at this nefarious Mr. Hodgkins in more detail.
Okay…he has no criminal record. Well, you know how terrorists like to keep “clean skins” to stay under the authorities’ radar.
He has not been accused of committing or encouraging any violent crimes or property destruction on January 6. Even so, I bet he was thinking violent thoughts and destroying things in his mind!
And the government concedes that Hodgkins is “not under the legal definition a domestic terrorist.” Wait a second, what? Oh, there’s more. Even though he cannot legally be considered a terrorist, the government believes his actions should nonetheless be seen “in the context of terrorism” for “imperiling democracy.” Just as Chinese authorities have convicted Tong Ying-kit for “inciting secession” by engaging in peaceful protest, American authorities have determined that Paul Hodgkins’s peaceful protesting should be seen as sedition, too.
Oh, shoot! Mr. Hodgkins made the unforgivable mistake of trespassing as a conservative protester instead of as a BLM-Antifa Marxist. When are these kids going to learn? If he had only been waving a BLM flag around in the Senate chamber, the Capitol Police would have let him loot and burn the whole place down. Heck, Secretary Blinken would have celebrated his fight for “social justice” by flying his flag outside American embassies around the world. Some political thought, after all, is more protected than the rest. Some political thought, it seems, gets you a one-way ticket straight to America’s new gulag system for wrongthink violators.
The great fighter-writer Jim Bovard cracked the code on the U.S. system of selective justice: “For January 6 defendants, federal prosecutors are using a simple formula: Trespassing plus thought crimes equals terrorism.” The judge presiding over Hodgkins’s case, Randolph Moss, put Bovard’s formula to good use: By carrying a Trump flag into the hallowed halls of Congress, Hodgkins was guilty of “declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the nation.” So much for freedom of association!
That’s not so hard to understand, is it? In a free country, you must prove your loyalty by never disagreeing with the government. To protest the government against the government’s will is tantamount to terrorism, and to express thoughts that make the government feel uncomfortable ups an ordinary trespass charge into a crime against the state.
Wait, I’m starting to think China’s new national security law reining in Hong Kong freedoms might have been written by the good and honorable folk in D.C. Or does despotism occur only when China does it? Maybe “liberal democracies” and “authoritarian regimes” aren’t so different when Secretary Blinken’s comrades grab hold of power. Perhaps the “beginning of the end for freedom of expression” is not just a Hong Kong problem, but a D.C. problem, too. Quick, someone call Amnesty International before it’s too late!
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