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THROWDOWN: The Anti-Imperialists Take on China

In Sean Jin’s post about Zach Besaraba’s characterization of the furor over Tibet amounting to little more than “propaganda with the aim of maintaining US imperialism (for his part, Besaraba makes an attempt to clarify his position in the comments section), I suggested that the “anti-imperialism” crowd (substitute “anti-war”, if you like) has little time to waste on protesting against “imperialism” on the part of anyone besides the United States and Israel.

Well, I’m glad to say that in a letter to the editor of the Eugene Weekly, Pete Mandrapa has proven me wrong, taking China to task for its “deplorable” “actions” in Tibet. Indeed, “some human rights activists’ calls for the boycott of Beijing Olympics and disruption of the Olympic torch travels across the globe”, he says, are “understandable. Good for Pete Mandrava for joining the ranks of the decent left and unequivocally condeming totalitarian aggression wherever he sees it.

But wait! What’s this?

Not satisfied to merely take a principled stand against Chinese imperialism, Mandrapa cites actual horrors like Abu Ghraib alongside such hoary old chestnuts as the “hundreds of thousands of Iraqis” “slaughtered” by American troops (la resistance presumably murders civilians for a higher cause) and the “physical destruction” of that country to argue that as awful as the annexation and decades-long Chinese occupation of Tibet might be it isn’t nearly as bad as the American invasion of Iraq. Evidently, Mr. Mandrapa doesn’t spend much time reading the news, since the only way his comparison would really hold is if the Tibetian “resistance” was butchering mourners with suicide bombs and the Chinese military was working with the UN to restore habitat for oppressed minority populations as well as repairing decaying infrastructure and opening schools.

But never mind all that. This is the Eugene Weekly we’re talking about, and high rhetoric (not to mention high drama) is de rigueur.

Expect this meme to become increasingly common as the Olympic trials draw ever nearer. When moral equivalence is the name of the game, it’s safer to suggest that perhaps American athletes should be barred from competing than it is to risk your activist cred by looking like you’re siding with the neo-con imperialists. China might be bad, but the U.S. is always worse.


A similar dodge, this time from The Guardian.

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