The most deadly form of the Chinese Flu may not be physical, but intellectual.
An article published on the Atlantic website this week displayed a kind of oppressive and tyrannical Chinese-style thinking that seems to be spreading through our intellectual classes like the Wuhan Virus itself.
The piece – co-authored by Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith and University of Arizona Law College professor Andrew Keane Woods – was so repellent to any Western sense of morality, ethics, or indeed law, that I wondered if some philosophical mutation of the Kung Flu hadn’t erased the mystic chords of memory from the professors’ brains.
The idea of the piece was that during this Courtesy-of-Wuhan crisis, American tech companies “are proudly collaborating with one another, and following government guidance, to censor harmful information related to the coronavirus. And they are using their prodigious data-collection capacities, in coordination with federal and state governments, to improve contact tracing, quarantine enforcement, and other health measures.”
Far from regarding this as an evil, or at least as an emergency contingency that needs to be walked back when the crisis ends, the professors believe that big business’ censoring and surveilling of Americans should become the new normal.
“In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values,” the piece reads.
Really? Is it too much to ask: Which society’s norms and values are these Chinese-style measures compatible with? If government and big business are colluding to censor speech and destroy our privacy, in what way are their actions compatible with anything resembling American norms and values?
This week on my podcast, I interviewed Steven W. Mosher, a conservative China expert and the author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.” Mr. Mosher gave a heartbreaking eyewitness account of forced abortions he witnessed in the 1980’s. (Under strong pressure from China, Stanford University expelled Mosher in 1985 for publishing these and other accounts.) Listening to his description of a 9-months pregnant woman being dragged off screaming to have her baby murdered and herself sterilized made it difficult for me to continue the interview.
Mr. Mosher also lent credence to almost inconceivable reports that the Chinese are forcibly harvesting the organs of dissenters and other marginalized groups in their concentration camps. These reports – which sound like something out of some preposterous thriller novel – were confirmed by an international tribunal last year. Mr. Mosher says the Chinese are using technology culled from America to render these prisoners brain dead in order to keep the organs fresh.
And yet, many in our academies continue to share our technology and research with China as if they were just another international neighbor. In January, the FBI arrested 60-year-old Dr. Charles Lieber, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Lieber, regarded as a future Nobel Prize winner, was charged with lying about his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Plan. And there are plenty of other top scientists participating in that plan, which the Department of Justice now regards as an espionage operation bent on stealing protected research and technology.
This is deeply disturbing. But just as disturbing is the sickening capitulation to Chinese economic power and intellectual influence among our chattering classes. The New York Times this week ran a typically slanted “news” article, hitting the Trump Administration for its moves to investigate the Chinese sources of the virus. Why shouldn’t they? We’ve seen movie studios, the NBA, and the NFL curtail their support of freedom fighters in Taiwan and Hong Kong to serve their Chinese masters. And, of course, the sort of “if we could only be China for a day” authoritarian longings of writers like Thomas Friedman show an almost complete disconnect from American “norms and values.”
The Chinese – by which, of course, I mean the Communists who run the country – are not our moral equals. They are not just a business enterprise we can compete or collaborate with, as we wish. They are a wicked and oppressive entity with imperialist aims. We cannot allow the intellectual version of the Chinese Flu to extinguish that truth in our minds.
We are going to have to fight these people – hopefully in a Cold War rather than a hot one. And for the good of humanity, we damn well better win.
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