A Little Lady Who Started A Great War
by Mark Joseph - April 26th, 2006 - TownHall.com
As a responsible citizen I'm supposed to be outraged at the actions of Wenyi Wang, the Chinese woman who disrupted ceremonies honoring Chinese President Hu at the White House last week. To be sure, I do generally have a position against such outbursts at least in those places where a constitution guarantees the right to free speech and freedom to assemble. But when it comes to people who live under brutal regimes that suppress free expression, I find myself rooting for the shouters.
One of Ronald Reagan's favorite stories went like this: a Russian and an American were talking about their respective countries. The American was telling the Russian how free he was. "Why I can march into the White House, pound my fist on President Reagan's desk and tell him I don't like the job he's doing." "So what," replied the Russian. "I can go to the Kremlin, pound my fist on President Gorbachev's desk and tell him I don't like the way President Reagan is doing his job."
Getting heckled is now part of public life but throwing food at Ann Coulter or shouting down Hillary Clinton are simply not the same as what Wenyi Wang did on the South Lawn.
What we as a free nation do to people who heckle foreign leaders is complicated. Granted, diplomatic immunity and diplomatic courtesy means we cannot allow people to physically harm a foreign leader. However the threat that we will send this lady to jail seems to be a different form of political persecution than we have ever previously allowed. It is a complex problem, as we need to protect our own diplomats by not allowing things to go to far. The question comes down to, how far does our current government feel it has to go in stripping those in America of freedom of speech to protect diplomats in countries such as China? Would we not be better off simply ending diplomatic relations when things are as bad as they are now?
I wish I trusted George Bush more but this is another issue where he sometimes seems to be deaf to what our citizens want.