Fox & Friends Support Human Rights – outside of the US

One of the few benefits of China’s harmonized media and the Great Firewall is that Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and the rest of the Fox op-ed team are off limits. But I was in Australia during Hu Jintao’s visit, and Fox was going non-stop the whole time.

After conservatives in Congress blocked healthcare for injured 9-11 first responders (mostly firemen, cops and paramedics. You know – the heroes) and cut off benefits for long-term unemployed (the former middle class), I considered Republicans to be a bit heartless. It turns out, however, that the Fox team is actually quite compassionate – as long as the suffering victims are Chinese. The Fox morning team couldn’t get over the fact that Obama wasn’t making the plight of suffering Chinese the central point in every meeting with Hu Jintao.

In truth, the human rights debate with China used to be a lot more fun. Ever since Bush-Cheney it’s been a little more ‘nuanced’ than Glen Beck and the tea partiers seem to think it is.

5 reasons why the human rights debate with China used to be more fun.

    1. Iraq. Abu Ghiraid, the human toll and the complete absence of WMD. Yeah – I’m sick of it too, but the Iraq war still a buzz-kill when we’re trying to hold ourselves up as a beacon of morality.
    2. Patriot Act. Freedom of Speech used to be our ace in the hole – but I’ve said too much already.
    3. Guantanamo Bay. Yes, I’m against terrorism and pro-liberty. But indefinite incarceration without trial is another one of those gray areas that non-Americans just don’t get.
    4. Wikileaks prosecution. Julian Assange, an Australian citizen residing in Europe is a target of the US Justice Dept for some pretty questionable reasons. Again, it undercuts that whole ‘liberty and justice’ thing we like to talk about.
    5. The financial melt-down and bailout that funneled billions to bankers but decimated the middle class and created a whole new generation of poor. I’d probably do a better job of explaining this if I understood it myself.

The worst part of the Glen Beck crowd is NOT that they are necessarily wrong for criticizing China – they are just botching it. For them it’s all about human rights and the RMB.

Americans in China just can’t apply human rights in the broad strokes we used to. It’s hard making this one work when China is lifting millions out of poverty just as we seem determined to force millions into it.

The tea partiers need to shut up about the RMB. The Chinese are just figuring out that they need a stronger Yuan more than anyone – but if the rabid-right keep screeching about it then Beijing is going to be able to extract all sorts of concessions for doing what’s best for them. China has so thoroughly thrashed Geithner and the White House on the forex issue that the best thing to do is admit defeat and move on – quietly. Even if the RMB floats free tomorrow it’s already too late. Forex should never have been the center of our trade debate with China.

The China debate needs to shift to IP protection and trade barriers. Someone should explain China’s indigenous innovation regulations to the Fox people and give them simple, easy to read flashcards with the major talking-points. The tea party may be a mob of selfish, whining thugs – but they are OUR selfish, whining thugs. Whether we like it or not, those of us doing business around the world are going to be judged by their words. Let’s try to help them get it straight.

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