The “Spring Festival Gala” is a nationwide television event in China, broadcast annually the eve of the lunar new year. The Economist magazine describes the show as “the most-watched television programme on Earth” and “one of the most vetted by the authorities.” The Communist Party reviews and approves everything in it.
In 2018, according to the Economist, the gala included a skit featuring a Chinese actress “in blackface and African dress, with exaggerated fake buttocks and a bowl of fruit on her head. For no clear reason, she had in tow a blackfaced Chinese man dressed as a monkey.”
Derogatory depictions of blacks that became taboo in the West generations ago remain commonplace in today’s China. A few years back, a horrified reader sent me a video of a Chinese commercial for laundry detergent. It featured a Chinese woman placing a detergent pod in the mouth of a black man and then shoving him into a washing machine. At the end of the cycle, a “clean” Asian man appears. The commercial had been appearing for months in China without incident until outraged viewers in the English-speaking world saw it and the video went viral. Within the country, however, “mostly the ad was met with apathy, perhaps because there is limited public debate about racism in China,” wrote
in the Guardian newspaper.
If these episodes shock the sensibilities of most people in the U.S., they haven’t deterred the
administration from tapping the likes of China to lecture Americans on our racial progress. Last week Secretary of State
invited officials from the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate “systemic racism” in the U.S. This would be the same Human Rights Council whose membership includes not only China but also Russia and Cuba. Remarking on the decision, Mr. Blinken said that the U.S. doesn’t “hide from our shortcomings” and that this move will help “confront the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia.” If only.
These countries are not interested in any honest or objective scrutiny of America’s record on race—our Civil War to end slavery, our civil-rights movement to end Jim Crow, or how we twice elected a black man as president of a country that remains overwhelmingly white. It doesn’t matter to them that black Americans are far more prosperous than other black people. Or that, whatever our faults, very few blacks (or other racial and ethnic minorities) are trying to leave the U.S., while untold millions still want to migrate here.
The Biden administration knows full well that the Chinas, Russias and Cubas of the world are primarily interested in exploiting racial incidents in America to detract from their own repressive activities at home. This is a time-honored tactic of communist regimes, which throughout the 20th century highlighted racial divisions in the U.S. to criticize capitalism and justify authoritarianism. They’d much rather talk about
than about Beijing’s handling of the Uyghurs, or Moscow’s handling of Chechens.
2014 death and the ensuing riots in Ferguson, Mo., Russia’s
told “60 Minutes” that the U.S. had no business criticizing how he handled dissidents in Russia given “the problem in Ferguson.” And the Xinhua News Agency, China’s largest news organization, editorialized: “Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others.”
Sadly, the eagerness of left-wing media elites to play the role of the useful idiot also hasn’t dimmed. The recent anticommunist demonstrations in Cuba are the largest in decades, but apologists for the regime like New York Times reporter
don’t quite grasp what the protesters are fussing about. She has called Cuba the “most equal” country in the Western Hemisphere.
a Fox News anchor who previously covered Latin America for the Journal, tweeted in response that Ms. Hannah-Jones has an odd view of equality. “Cuba is equal only in the poverty and repression it imposes on 97% of its population,” he wrote. “The other 3% is the ruling elite, which gets all they want and is virtually all white.”
Once again, the Biden administration is acting to placate its left flank. It’s one thing to do this by pushing Green New Deal nonsense or by forming a commission to study the effects of packing the Supreme Court. It’s quite another to play footsie with enemies of America and our allies. This is a Human Rights Council, let’s remember, that has devoted far more time to Israel’s supposed sins than to those of Iran, Syria and North Korea put together. The danger here is giving authoritarian regimes the domestic propaganda victories they crave. Such victories only help authoritarians stay in power. They make the world less free and more dangerous than it would be otherwise.
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Appeared in the July 21, 2021, print edition.