Open Thread: Different Societies, Different Solutions

As the great Richard Pryor once said, “People are people, all over the world… they fck with your luggage in Nairobi just like they fck with your luggage in Newark.” And every society has its own workarounds for the universal belief that Tha Gubmint doesn’t want you to know THE TRUTH. Of course, citizens in the PRC have far more reason to be suspicious of their appointed oligarchs:

The People’s Recreation Community bookstore and several others on Hong Kong’s teeming shopping streets specialize in selling books and magazines banned by the Chinese government, mostly for their luridly damning accounts of party leaders, past and present. And at a time when many Chinese citizens smolder with distrust of their leaders, business is thriving.

“We come here to buy books that we can’t read in China,” said Huang Tao, a salesman of nutritional supplements from southeast China, who picked out a muckraking volume recently about corruption among senior party leaders. “There are so many things that we’ve been deceived over,” he said, waving toward books on the devastating famine of the late 1950s and early 1960s, an episode that official histories have muffled in euphemisms. “We can’t learn the truth, so black becomes white and white becomes black.” …

They contain accounts of every conceivable scandal of the past. Then there are the gloomy prophecies about China’s future. One book foretells a war with Japan in 2014, another a toppling of the current leadership that same year. The strongest seller among these feverish jeremiads, “2014: The Great Collapse,” says the fall of the Communist Party is assured, citing what it says are secret party documents. “This is not gossip or soothsaying,” the preface declares…

“It’s like when your National Enquirer becomes your only form of political discussion,” said Geremie Barmé, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra who studies Chinese culture and politics. “This is a tragedy that the party has generated for itself. Its processes are all cloaked from the public.”

Yet many readers of banned publications from Hong Kong are themselves Chinese officials, often eager for gossip that can help them navigate treacherous political shoals. The books and magazines are surviving the onslaught of online material in part because so many of their readers are officials who fear using the Internet to look at forbidden material or lack the skill to thwart censorship, said Mr. Tang.

“You don’t have to read the People’s Daily, because that won’t tell you what’s really going on, but you have to read these,” said Ho Pin, an exiled Chinese journalist who runs Mirror Books, a company based in New York that publishes muckraking books and magazines in Chinese. Chinese officials visiting Hong Kong often buy them as gifts for fellow officials, he said. “In the past, you’d give a mayor a bottle of liquor. But that’s nothing these days, and so is a carton of cigarettes,” Mr. Ho said. “But if you give him one of our books or magazines, he’ll be very happy.”

Somewhere inside the Beltway, Jonathan Karl is weeping for missed opportunities.

41 replies
  1. 1
    RinaX says:

    So I just visited Little Green Footballs, and apparently the wingnuts are outraged by a “quote” from President Obama’s speech today at Morehouse where he supposedly says “I’m a Black Man”. Now, this doesn’t appear to be an actual direct quote, but for the life of me I can’t understand why it would matter if he had said it. But by stating this he is clearly signaling his intent to come for the guns of all hard-working (white) Americans. Or something.

  2. 2
    Redshirt says:

    We’re all precious snowflakes.

  3. 3
    MikeJ says:

    @RinaX: But don’t you dare call them racist! Sorry, raaaa-cist. Because they don’t hate him at all for his race, they just bring it up all the time for no reason whatsoever. Obviously you’re the real racist because you noticed their racism.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    Li Keqiang is worse than Wen Jiabao. He sold us out!

  5. 5
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Of course, citizens in the PRC have far more reason to be suspicious of their appointed oligarchs

    I’d take some serious issue with this statement. Ours are a lot better at lying about their acts, aims and intentions. The Chinese oligarchs will tell you to your face that they hire zoo designers to work out their factory dormitory arrangements. I frankly find that degree of honesty refreshing.

  6. 6
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RinaX:

    Now, this doesn’t appear to be an actual direct quote, but for the life of me I can’t understand why it would matter if he had said it.

    I have this theory about why wingnuts hate Obama so much that I’m going to repeat even though I’m sure regular commenters are sick of it: I really think one of the reasons they hate him is that he consciously chose to live his life as a black man. He didn’t have to — he could have decided to marry a white woman, work for a white-shoe law firm (pun intended), and live on the fringes of the white social and political world without too much trouble. That’s what Clarence Thomas did, and he was able to become a Supreme Court justice.

    But instead Obama chose to move to Chicago while Harold Washington was mayor, marry a black woman, and work his way up through black social and political circles with the support of people like Valerie Jarrett. He went around white people to become successful rather than letting them grant that success to him out of the kindness of their hearts. IMO, a lot of wingnuts see that as a rejection of his white roots (and it kinda is) and they can’t forgive him for it.

  7. 7
    Roger Moore says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    The Chinese oligarchs will tell you to your face that they hire zoo designers to work out their factory dormitory arrangements.

    They may tell you that, but I sincerely doubt that they’ll say the same thing to the Chinese press, and I strongly suspect that they’ll try to censor any Western publication that includes a quote to that effect.

  8. 8
    nellcote says:

    OT Has anyone heard from Soonergrunt? Those tornadoes in OK are pretty awful.

  9. 9
    Keith says:

    @RinaX: I’m reading LGF and am kind of in shock. Before my mother died in 2006, she had gone hardcore anti-Muslim, Super-Texas neocon and LOVED LGF. Now, I’m reading it, and it’s a site I could actually read. I mean, he’s on Jonathan Karl like white on rice and seems tenacious as hell. And his bit on the Drudge “I’m a black man” false quote is pretty good, too. The whole theme of his site now seems to be “The GOP has lost their goddamn minds”

  10. 10
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    They may tell you that, but I sincerely doubt that they’ll say the same thing to the Chinese press, and I strongly suspect that they’ll try to censor any Western publication that includes a quote to that effect.

    @Roger Moore: Oh, I wish you were right:

    http://www.businessinsider.com.....z1kIGZNNiw

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    @Keith: Been that way for awhile. Didn’t he have his conversion near the same time as Cole?

  12. 12
    MomSense says:

    @Baud:

    HA!!!

  13. 13
    Redshirt says:

    @Keith: LGF rules, and Charles is awesome. Cooler than Cole, I daresay.

  14. 14
    Keith says:

    @Redshirt: I haven’t added a link to my Favorites list in several years, but LGF is now on my list.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Keith:

    Charles Johnson had an awakening very similar to Cole’s, except that Johnson’s “holy shit, these fuckers are crazy” moment happened over Islam and nutcases like Pam Geller rather than Terri Schiavo.

  16. 16
    Suffern ACE says:

    Man. I thought you were supposed to go through a period where there were giants like Murrow or Cronkite or some real honest to goodness muckraking champions of the poor before decadence set in and you could no longer tell the difference between news and the national enquirer.

    Hopefully it doesn’t get so bad that they start borrowing conspiracy theories from us, changing the names to fit local officials. Like those catholic saints who were de-canonized when it turned out their miracles were actually borrowed from the lives of the Buddha, the future chinese premier will put bongs up as Lunar New Years decorations while his wife will have an affair with the family vet in the Mao Bedroom.

  17. 17
    Redshirt says:

    And I say Charles Johnson is cooler than John Cole for the following reasons:

    1. CJ knows how to work a database and a website.
    2. CJ plays music.
    3. CJ has better Fatwas – Hoft, Britetbart, Pam, as compared to BJ obsession on Sully and Brooks.

  18. 18
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Redshirt: He even shares his code.

  19. 19
    Narcissus says:

    @Mnemosyne: Was it the Times Square Mosque dealio?

  20. 20
  21. 21
    max says:

    @Keith: I’m reading LGF and am kind of in shock. Before my mother died in 2006, she had gone hardcore anti-Muslim, Super-Texas neocon and LOVED LGF.

    Let us not speak ill of the dead, other people’s mothers and my fellow Texans (who aren’t politicians).

    Sorry, screw it. I’m sorry for your pain. Also, it sucks to not have a mom.

    The whole theme of his site now seems to be “The GOP has lost their goddamn minds”.

    Booming business, that. To be a bit unfair to Comrade Cole and LGF, ‘Oh, NOW you get around to noticing.’ Oh, well, better late than never. (One notes here the distinction between being a conservative I disagree with, and an asswipe lunatic/fascist right-winger, which is almost the entirety of the Republican party for awhile now.)

    Mnemosyne: IMO, a lot of wingnuts see that as a rejection of his white roots (and it kinda is) and they can’t forgive him for it.

    I don’t think it involves that much complicated reasoning, so much as straight-forward rationalizing: “There that nigger goes again, being all black and talking back to his betters.” You can pad that out with many many twisty words, but if you started from that, the journey is not worth the candle.

    As the great Richard Pryor once said, “People are people, all over the world… they fck with your luggage in Nairobi just like they fck with your luggage in Newark.”

    Yup. No doubt about it.

    Stannis appears to have relocated his good sense. About time.

    max
    [‘I got twenty bucks on the drunken Tyrion against weenieboy Joffrey.’]

  22. 22
    patroclus says:

    Hong Kong is really cool in a wide variety of ways. I used to live there and when the PRC re-asserted sovereignty back in 1997 pursuant to the Joint Declaration with the U.K. and promised 50 years of a continued way of life, there was a lot of doubt that that would be so. But there were some that predicted that HK would influence the PRC more so than the PRC would subjugate HK, and 16 years later, it seems that that prediction was accurate. The HK press is kind of wild and the people are very savvy (and hence cynical) and both highly distrust all forms of sovereignty. The “black market” in books and pamphlets criticizing virtually everyone was rampant back in the colonial days as it appears to be now.

    (Thankfully, I’m predicting that Joffrey’s days are numbered.)

  23. 23
    Yatsuno says:

    @jeffreyw: ZOMG KING CHARLES SPANIELPUPPEH!! SQUEE!!!

  24. 24
    Ash Can says:

    @jeffreyw: LOL! That tail is going at the speed of sound.

  25. 25
    Redshirt says:

    I am covered in ticks.

    Seriously. I’ve pulled off 17 so far tonight.

  26. 26
    michelle says:

    Tammy’s gone.
    Perhaps the cats got a better deal in the whole exchange.

  27. 27
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Narcissus:

    I honestly can’t remember what the final break was, but I think the Times Square Mosque happened after he had already walked away. I think it was when Johnson was thinking about going to a conference with his new anti-Muslim friends and realized that every speaker on the panels was a white supremacist.

    @max:

    There’s a “tell” for if you’re dealing with someone who’s angry that Obama chose to be black — they say things like, You know, his mother was white, so he’s just as white as he is black.

    @Redshirt:

    Dude, what the hell were you doing, rolling around nude in the underbrush?

    Wait, I may not want to know the answer to that.

  28. 28
    Yatsuno says:

    The Pens lost. JC is about to go on a serious drunken rampage. Someone watch teh Twitterz.

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    @Narcissus:

    Was it the Times Square Mosque dealio?

    The story I’ve heard about Charles Johnson’s conversion is that he went to some sort of international conference for activists against “Islamo-fascism” or whatever they’re calling it these days, and found himself surrounded by European neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers. That was a bridge too far even for him, he then brought it up on his blog in a “let’s be careful who we associate with, okay?” kind of way, and had his fellow righties open up on him with both barrels as an appeaser, “objectively pro-Muslim,” or whatever. At which point he finally realized that the cause he’d been working for really were a bunch of complete fucking psychos.

    I wasn’t following it at the time and didn’t find out about it until a few years later, so I could be wrong. But that’s what was explained to me later, either by someone here or on Sadly, No!

  30. 30
    Redshirt says:

    18 – back of the neck. After all that looking and inspecting, still, somehow, on the back of the neck. Ticks!

  31. 31
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Chris: yep. Apparently, there’s a few anti-Muslims for whom the notion that there is a Judeo-Christan tradition is not kosher. A Semite is a Semite whether Arab or Jew.

  32. 32
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @michelle:

    Tammy looks like a real sweetheart. I am so sorry, and wish I had something more than inadequate words for you.

  33. 33
    Chris says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    The far right in Europe has been a lot less embarrassed about its fascist history than its American counterpart – the Jonah Goldberg shit doesn’t fly over there. You occasionally have someone like Geert Wilders, who calls himself a libertarian and plays the “they’re the real fascists!” game, but for the most part it’s very well understood that the people who’re afraid of Eurabia are the same ones who were afraid of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion eighty years ago.

    Also, found a good article on Johnson’s conversion – http://washingtonindependent.c.....logosphere. Here’s the relevant paragraphs:

    Johnson’s former allies can pinpoint the month, if not the moment, when he started to turn on them. In October 2007, some of the leading terrorism-focused conservative bloggers flew to Belgium for a Counterjihad Summit sponsored in part by the Center for Vigilant Freedom (now the International Civil Liberties Alliance), an outgrowth of the LGF-inspired blog Gates of Vienna.

    “It was the best conference I ever went to,” remembered Geller. But the summit included members of Vlaams Belang, a controversial Belgian political party that criticizes Islam and Shariah law, and had been attacked within the Netherlands for its connections to extremism and racism. Johnson went to work exposing this, and the attendees reeled from the negative attention.

    “He chose to portray the Brussels Conference as evil and he unconscionably slandered the people who attended,” said Dymphna, one of the editors of Gates of Vienna. Baron Bodissey, the other site editor (both editors use pen names), worries that Johnson “did serious damage to the American blogosphere’s view of European nationalists who oppose the EU, even those who have no anti-Semitic tendencies.”

    “Not only that,” said Bodissey, “he made it harder for certain American anti-jihad groups to raise funds if they failed to repudiate his designated ‘fascist-enablers’ like us.”

    Johnson is unapologetic about his actions. While he was attacking the attendees of the Counterjihad Summit, he was also blasting Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) for taking money from, and being photographed with, the owner of the extremist Web site Stormfront.org.

    “Some people at that summit in Belgium were not people we should have been associated with,” Johnson said, pointing out that since 2007 the terrorism-focused conservative bloggers have become supporters of Dutch politician Geert Wilders , who wants to outlaw Islam in his country. “Some of these people outright want to ban Islam from the United States, which I think is crazy, completely nuts. That’s not something we do in this country. These people will outright defend banning the Koran or deporting Muslims. That’s popular with the Geller/Spencer crowd.”

    When they talk about Johnson today, the rest of the terrorism-focused bloggers alternate between anger and regret. He has smeared them, they say, and according to Dymphna he’s “destroyed a lot of networking that was beginning to emerge” between American and European critics of Islamic extremism.

  34. 34
    MikeJ says:

    @Chris:

    even those who have no anti-Semitic tendencies.

    Sort of says it all.

  35. 35
    Yatsuno says:

    @Chris:

    LGF-inspired blog Gates of Vienna

    Wow. Subtle they ain’t.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chris:

    [A]ccording to Dymphna he’s “destroyed a lot of networking that was beginning to emerge” between American and European critics of Islamic extremism.

    If Johnson managed to disrupt communications between US right-wingers and people like Anders Breivik, the whole country may owe him a round of thanks.

  37. 37
    James E. Powell says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I think you have something there. But I have to add that one reason that the Obama haters are so apoplectic is that Obama has not really failed. They need him to fail, he just has to. If he is successful and even more, if he is generally perceived to be successful, their entire worldview is shattered. A black president? This just cannot be. Not in their America.

    If the next president is a Democratic woman, expect sales of guns, liquor, and prescription drugs to reach all time highs.

  38. 38
    James E. Powell says:

    @Redshirt:

    Maybe so, but who would you rather have a beer with?

  39. 39
    piratedan says:

    blew out (popped) my right hammy this afternoon, looking forward to three days of vicodin induced posting, so apologies in advance :-)

  40. 40
    Johnny Coelacanth says:

    I applaud Johnson for his road-to-Damascus moment but I have difficulty mustering up the will to read him, mainly because of the savaging he used to get at the hands of Sadly, No! As a response, he would redirect traffic coming from Sadly, No! to a landing page with an obnoxious animation on it and the words “You are a idiot.” I can forgive him his political trespasses, but fuck anybody who murders grammar like that.

  41. 41
    TenguPhule says:

    I am reminded yet again, in China they shoot the too obviously corrupt officials.

    And I look at the Republican party and think that the only reason they survive and thrive in America is because of the very freedom and tolerence they want to destroy.

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