This is great news for all Human Rights activists who have been concerned about the fate of Philip Cunningham, an American citizen who was recently in exile from America, according to an article he published in the Bangkok Post on September 3, 2005:
Philip J Cunningham, Chairman of America Watch (a non-existent, non-profit human rights group founded by American citizens in China in exile from the current US regime).
But now he has returned safe and sound to America, where he is a visiting fellow at Cornell University in New York.
Oh, Philip! How and why did the “current US regime” let you back into the country? After the Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn was forcibly deported from his country in 1974 and then charged with treason, he was not allowed to return from exile until 20 years later, after the Soviet regime had ended. But the Bush administration under which Cunningham went into “exile” is still in office. Philip, what did you do to change the American regime’s mind, to persuade them to let you back into the country?
Now, just in case any readers might search for that article in the Bangkok Post, it seems to have been taken down. But the entire text has been preserved (at least as of this writing) on this blog post.
The author of that post lambasted Cunningham:
I love America. I love China. I acknowledge the deep and unforgivable faults in each. What I find inexcusable is a brilliant and charming American journalist going on CCTV and ranting against America, while never turning the spotlight onto his hosts. But then, Cunningham knows where his bread is buttered.
Yet a year and a half later, in a more recent post in 2008, the same blogger called Cunningham his “dear friend” and linked, with considerable implied approbation, to Cunningham’s most recent hatchet-job article about Stephen Spielberg’s decision to boycott the Beijing Olympics.
The only logical explanation I can think of, for this change of attitude towards Mr Cunningham, is that the Beijing Olympics truly has the power to work magical transformations!
Now, just to ensure that the post in which Cunningham’s Bangkok Article appeared does not, well, disappear, here is the entire post of July 24, 2006, except for the comments:
Philip Cunningham – Again??
Danwei has opened the door for Philip Cunningham to reply to commenters who responded to news of his banishment from Chinapol. [If you plan to go there to comment that’s your choice, but I urge you to avoid insults and snark, and keep the conversation relevant to the topic. Ad hominems and anonymous emotional outbursts only give Philip ammunition to position himself as a martyr, and to point to obnoxious commenters as haters.]
In his reply, Cunningham plays tribute to his host, and explains, to his own satisfaction at least, why so many commenters react to him with hostility.
Danwei is not stuck in the old paradigm, it’s open to the public, savvy, self-knowing. But individuals who post on Danwei frequently sound old paradigm in their shouts and screeds. As Philip Roth has noted in his biographical writing, it was his identity as a Jew writing critically and candidly about Jews that invited, mostly from other Jews, fiece and irrational criticism I find that as an American, trying to write critically and candidly about my own kind, at a time when America is riddled with insecurities, with real and percieved, a similar pattern emerges.
Why is this so? Well, Americans have a deep investment in the American identity as it has been constructed over the years and any truthful comment, or attempt at unearthing certain unpalatable truths about America is not just an intellectual exercise, it touches on identity issues. All the more so if you have been “in government” as many Chinapolers have.
For those Americans whose innate sense of pride and comfort is couched in the terms that US president Bush bandies about with such abandon; freedom-loving, democracy-supporting, generous and benevolent in helping foreigners to a fault, what I have to say is going to shake some deeply-held convictions, convictions so deeply-held that the unreflective are not entirely sure what makes them upset; thus the rants, the lame insults, the flames, in and out of Chinapol. Internet discourse is overloaded and burdened by such hate speech, and I credit Danwei’s Jeremy Goldkorn for trying to combat this quietly in his own way.
Cunningham has drawn a line: on the one side are those who criticize him, flame him and rant against him, and do so because they harbor a deep-seeded belief in the myth of a magnanimous America; on the other side are the open-minded, non-hating truth-seekers like himself. The implication is that those who take issue with Cunningham are, in effect, victims of brainwashing from the American government – the exact same argument made by one Jessica Copeland. Never mind that if Cunningham were to do some research on many of the commenters (and it’s not that hard to do) he’d see that many, perhaps most, have a track record of standing up to the Bush doctrine, of rejecting it, and of criticizing America in no uncertain terms. Philip doesn’t get this: that it is possible to be enraged by the CCP without having been hypnotized by US propaganda. (Maybe he should talk to Hao Wu’s sister Nina; maybe she can help explain why everyday people uninfluenced by American propganda can hate the CCP.)
I made my first observation of Cunningham nearly three and a half years ago, and I have to say I think I saw him for exactly what he is:
CCTV-9 is presenting nightly interviews with a very bright political analyst named Philip Cunningham, a Harvard-educated pundit with excellent credentials. Cunningham is articulate and insightful, and on some topics we even think alike. The only problem is that he’s virulently anti-Bush and anti-the-Iraq-War. That’s his privilege and he at least backs up his points with facts, figures and keen observations. But he goes unchallenged, and his opinions are greeted as universal truths.
Worse — the interviewer leads him on and provokes him to go even further in criticizing America, breaking every rule about the role of the interviewer. Every question is loaded and reeks of the state-sanctioned party line: “Considering the unprecedented disregard the US has shown for international law and its contempt for the rights of its citizens, wouldn’t you say….” (That’s not an exact quote, but trust me, it’s quite close.)
I don’t believe there is a word of hatred there, of prejudice or inanity. I believed then, as I believe now, that it is possible to criticize Cunningham using old-fashioned common sense and critical thinking. I am eager to praise Cunningham for his brilliance and charm, as I am eager to criticize him for allowing himself to serve as CCTV’s marionette. If anything, I believe I was too easy on Cunningham back in 2003. It wasn’t until much later that I realized his loathing of the US was pathological. Again, from today’s Danwei letter:
China has not invaded any sovereign state recently, nor has it had in my memory the temerity to roll its tanks down the streets of someone else’s capital city, shooting and killing foreign civilians with impunity, but the US gets away with such abominations in the name of spreading freedom and democracy. Increasingly, in no small part because of the mean-sprited, divisively-partisan Bush administration, American self-confidence in America’s proud manifest destiny has had cause to be shaken. Yet for the recalcitrants, it’s shaken but not stirred. For many Americans, despite a distaste for Bush, remain mired in a self-perception of unspoken superiority, assuming the American governmental bureaucracy has genuine altruistic intent and presumed democratic benevolence, which if ever was the case, and I’m not entirely sure it was, would have been a cogent argument only for a brief window of time, sometime between the liberation of Nazi death camps and the start of the anti-communist witchhunt and the wars it engendered in Korea and Vietnam.
While I agree the US government hasn’t always been noble and our history is pockmarked with horror stories, to juxtapose it against China in a manner that absolves the Chinese of similar guilt (and that’s exactly what Cunningham’s lead sentence in the above quote cunningly seeks to do) is rather, um, bold. If the Chinese weren’t shooting foreigners, they were shooting their own citizens. And while some Americans were getting drunk on Bush’s BS about liberty and freedom and democracy for the whole world, many more in China were sucking on the teat of the CCP propaganda machine, being force-fed utter crap about the CCP’s glorious achievements while stories about SARS were being covered up. And Americans like me, who saw Bush was giving us a snow job, were free to organize and set up blogs and launch campaigns to change things. Philip can’t credit this, because he would have to face the fact that in China there are no such options.
I don’t want anyone to take my word for it. I believe Cunningham’s own words paint the clearest picture of how his mind works and how he sees the world. Let’s revisit an article he wrote a year ago, An Open Letter to Hu Jintao. (The original article is gone, but luckily it was kept over at this blog, where you’ll find some excellent comments as well.) Attempting to be witty, Cunningham creates a a parody using fictitious human rights group, America Watch. Despite the usual brilliance, there are a couple of surprising typos (don’t they teach at Harvard that there is no such word as “irregardless”?), and the article borders on the unhinged – which is unusual for Cunningham, who usually strives to contain his vitriol. I urge you to read every word of this extraordinary article, and then see his essay today in Danwei in which he accuses those who criticize him of engaging in hate speech. Read the piece below, then talk to me about Cunning Ham’s sense of balance and objective journalism.
From the Bangkok Post, September 3, 2005
The wok calling the kettle black
By PHILIP J CUNNINGHAM
From: America Watch, Beijing OfficeRe: America needs help now. Your Excellency President Hu Jintao’s upcoming visit to the United States is a welcome development with regards to China-US relations, but is at the same time fraught with political risk, as you will be dealing with a regime that is on one hand deeply in debt to China, but also burdened with natural disaster, a war with no end in sight, massive corruption, government malfeasance and documented human rights abuses.
China should first offer condolences to the Americans dead, displaced and dispossessed by the violent natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina. China, with its long history of battling floods, taming rivers and staging massive relief operations, is in an excellent position to offer money, manpower and engineering advice to the storm-battered American south. Although such humanitarian aid may ultimately be rejected by face-conscious US politicians for reasons of nationalistic pride, the offer should stand as a goodwill gesture between peoples.
China has a long-standing policy of non-interference in the domestic politics of other nations, but at this critical juncture, in dealing with a deeply divided debtor nation struggling to save the sunken city of New Orleans, a gas-guzzling nation facing rising prices and energy shortfalls, a politically divided electorate perhaps on the verge of economic collapse due to profligate spending on military adventures abroad, China can offer a helping hand.
In doing so, it needs to reach gingerly beyond the current narrowly partisan Bush administration to consult with the political opposition and express solidarity with all Americans, regardless of political persuasion.
Honest, hard-working Americans, just beginning to wake up and make themselves heard after four long years of being manipulated and misled in the name of a values revolution and a poorly executed political campaign on terror, are now beset by an unprecedented environmental disaster, a war no one wants and an increasingly fragile economy. Furthermore, the Iraq quagmire and emergency measures at home in the US have caused an unprecedented erosion of human rights and limited free expression. America’s traditional sense of fair play, long an inspiration to others, is less and less evident as a wealthy minority wrap themselves in material comfort while the poor die on the battlefield and before the neglected dykes and levies, bearing the brunt of gratuitous war and mis-governance.
Here in Beijing at America Watch, we understand that state-to-state relations must be preserved according to diplomatic protocol, irregardless of how incompetent the current US administration may be, and we are pleased that China has taken the high road, doing its best to constructively engage America at this during these trying times, in order to keep the peace. We look forward to the day when China and America can again fully engage as constructive Pacific partners committed to peace and justice. Reading the Chinese press, we are pleased to see that China has a profound appreciation for world affairs and has generally shown itself to be on the right side of history with its principled stands on current issues of war and peace, racism and social justice:
– China has consistently opposed the unpopular and unjustified American war of invasion in Iraq.
– China supports the United Nations and a multilateral approach to problem-solving among nations.
– China roundly condemns the shocking use of torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other US military prisons.
– China is outraged that American religious fundamentalists are permitted to openly promote terror, especially those with close White House ties such as Pat Robertson, who recently called for the assassination of Victor Chavez, the elected president of Venezuela.
– China is dismayed that the US continues to harbour known terrorists such as Luis Posada Carriles, a Venezuelan citizen accused of terrorism by Cuba and Venezuela for bombing a Cuban Airlines flight.
– China notes the increase in US military spending and is concerned that the US has long been engaged in research and development of new nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological warfare agents and other weapons of mass destruction.
– China notes that over 50 journalists have been killed in Iraq, many by so-called “friendly fire”.
– The Chinese media is following the case of Bunnatine H Greenhouse, the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers who lost her job for raising legitimate questions about defence industry corruption. Ditto for whistleblowers Joe Wilson and Richard Clark.
– China takes note that America maintains a vast gulag, as documented by Amnesty International, of unauthorised and inhumane detention centres in America and around the world.
If, during the upcoming presidential visit, a meeting with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cannot be avoided, it is highly advisable not to permit any photographs of a potentially embarrassing handshake with the architect of the attack on Baghdad. Ditto for Vice President Dick Cheney, a key power behind the throne with deep ties to the bloated war industry.
These men, however controversial, should be treated with the same restrained courtesy that President Hu extended to Japanese Premier Koizumi Junichiro.
Bearing in mind that the American taxpayer pays the bill for environmental neglect, weapons production and war-profiteering that in the end benefit mainly the wealthy political base of President Bush, it would be encouraging if China would avoid doing business with Enron, Halliburton and the rest of the war industry.
According to the precedent established during US presidential visits to Beijing, President Hu’s Yale University speech on peace and cooperation should be carried live in full, without interruption, spin or prejudice by all major US television networks, including Fox TV and the Christian Broadcast Network. The question and answer session at Yale should not be pre-scripted by the American hosts as it was by Harvard during former president Jiang Zemin’s lecture at Sanders Hall in 1997.
Finally, China might consider establishing a short-wave radio programme called Radio Free America, to beam news reports into America around the clock to provide information that is unreported, under-reported or otherwise obscured or obfuscated at home, thus enabling Americans to get a fresh perspective on what is really going on in their country, and to better understand the profound effects current US policy is having on the rest of the world.
The American media, which once held itself to be the gold standard in news reporting, has in recent years lost its fabled objectivity and balance due to the incessant spin and pro-war propaganda disseminated by the White House.
Wishing you a safe and productive journey to my homeland.
Philip J Cunningham,
Chairman of America Watch (a non-existent, non-profit human rights group founded by American citizens in China in exile from the current US regime).
Yeah, we all know America’s sins, particularly under our Codpiece in Chief. But most of our Constitution remains intact. Public outcry and law suits have resulted in most of the Guantanamo prisoners being freed. Once we re-take the House Bush’s crimes will be investigated. We can and will throw the curent (sic) group of thugs out of office, a luxury the Chinese people do not share with us. No blogger ever gets put in jail in America. And for all of America’s warts and China’s magnanimity, I know of no Americans hiring snakeheads to get them out of America and into China.
I love America. I love China. I acknowledge the deep and unforgivable faults in each. What I find inexcusable is a brilliant and charming American journalist going on CCTV and ranting against America, while never turning the spotlight onto his hosts. But then, Cunningham knows where his bread is buttered. No one ever accused him of being stupid.
Baked by Richard TPD at 10:43 PM | TrackBack (0)
And now, see what kinds of magical transformations are happening? Think it’s “impossible”? Think again! As Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother sings, “Impossible…things are happening every day”, during this Olympic year! Thank you, Fairy Godmother, for creating “strange bedfellows”!