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(Letter from Willow) China’s Ethnic Fault Lines

I would like to bring readers’ attention to this article in the WSJ. As I do not personally live in China, I do not wish to comment at length on the issue though I personally feel the natural regionalism is countered by an equally strong cultural ethos of staying united, especially after so many attempts to divide up the country.

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  1. S.K. Cheung
    July 14th, 2009 at 06:53 | #1

    Interesting article. As an hker, I can certainly attest that the local Chinatown was referred to as “Tang-ren street”, as opposed to any reference to Han.

  2. raventhorn4000
    July 14th, 2009 at 10:42 | #2

    I don’t know why Western media persist in calling China “monolithic”.

    The myth is entirely the making of Western ignorance.

    Hello? 56 ethnic groups? How many years do we have to go for this ridiculous repetition of “monolithic China”?

    Han Chinese are the mix of 100’s of ancient ethnic groups in China, all with distinct cultural contributions to the Chinese cultural heritage.

    Our regional dialects and regional customs are the proof of our ethnic diversity.

  3. Steve
    July 14th, 2009 at 17:35 | #3

    @ R4K: I think you’re confusing ethnicity with government. For instance, Iceland has a monolithic ethnicity but their government is not monolithic. China has a diverse ethnic makeup but a monolithic government. What that refers to is that decisions made at the top levels are transferred down to the bottom levels and can be reinforced from top to bottom. If the Politburo Standing Committee makes a decision, that decision is monolithic in that it can be enforced through all levels of government. Why? Because ultimate power rests in the party.

    Back when speed limits were 55 MPH in the USA, the way the federal government enforced that decree was by tying federal road funds to the enforcement of the speed limit. Montana is too big with too few people for that limit to be practical, so they turned down federal funds and had no limit in rural areas. That is one example of a non-monolithic government. The separation of powers between various government organizations on the national, state and local level is also non-monolithic. Each one has its sphere of influence and power unique to itself.

    So I wouldn’t be so quick to call others names. In this case, your statement is incorrect and I’m sure you wouldn’t want others to call you ignorant.

  4. raventhorn4000
    July 14th, 2009 at 19:20 | #4

    Steve,

    I don’t believe the WSJ was referring to “government”, in fact they were talking about ethnic diversity in China.

  5. Steve
    July 14th, 2009 at 20:15 | #5

    Sorry, I read the article again and you are correct. But you also attributed the “myth” to the non-Chinese media rather than to the Chinese government, who the article said is always saying that China has a harmonious society. Why do you feel the myth is propagated by “western media”?

  6. raventhorn4000
    July 14th, 2009 at 22:17 | #6

    “Harmonious” hardly suggests “monolithic”.

    And “harmonious society” is a goal, like “stability”.

  7. Steve
    July 14th, 2009 at 23:01 | #7

    @ R4K: Monolithic and harmonious are close enough synonyms for me. What you’ve done is read an entire article and attacked the usage of one word rather than commenting on the article itself. It’s completely off topic.

  8. July 14th, 2009 at 23:48 | #8

    I read that article a while ago with interest. I do not really agree the folks in S.China called themselves Tang Man for that reason. At least two dynasties were ruled by folks outside the Great Wall, the Monguls and the Manchurians. Manchurians had a population of only 1 million and had a language about 50 years before they ruled China.

    When they’re treated as one of the 55 minorities, we cannot say China had been conquered and ruled.

  9. raventhorn4000
    July 14th, 2009 at 23:57 | #9

    Steve,

    I don’t think Chinese people consider “harmonious society” to mean “monolithic culture”. Evident from the Olympics and even Chinese state media, China has consistently represented itself as a diverse multi-cultural nation.

    The single word of “monolithic” is a clear indicia of Western misconception about China. Frankly, if West has some rational basis for that misconception, it might be explainable.

    I see no such rational basis.

  10. JXie
    July 15th, 2009 at 02:05 | #10

    Long long time ago waited tables between classes at a Chinese restaurant owned by a Chinese American who migrated from Southeast Asia. His rule was that each “Tang Ren” got a free bowl of daily soup. At least his “Tang Ren” included those who spoke Mandarin (the northerners).

    The people living in Tang, was pretty much a superset of the people living in Han, so trying to distinguish “Han Ren” and “Tang Ren” by the 2 dynasties that way makes absolutely no sense. The only possibly explanation I can think of is that Mongol created 4 castes: Mongol, SeMu, Han & Southerners (Nan Ren 南人). Han included Jurchen, Korean, Khitan, Tangut tribes and Northern Hans in those empires (Jin, Liao, Xiao), and Nan Ren included people of fallen Song, who were actually the real Hans.

    Ming and Qing made no such distinction. Mongol’s categorization made little sense other than the timelines it subjugated the people, since the linguistic and outward differences between Shandong (northerners), and Jiangsu (southerners), are quite a bit narrower than those between Jiangsu and Guangdong (both southerners). I don’t see any other way to look at it, but both northerners and southerners are one people with progressive differences from one end to the other.

    BTW, harmonious = 和谐, monolithic = 单一. 人和自然的和谐, harmony between human and nature. I think you will be hard pressed to replace it with “monolith”.

  11. Steve
    July 15th, 2009 at 03:10 | #11

    @ R4K & JXie: I concede! Monolithic is NOT a good word to use. Thanks for the education. 😛

  12. S.K. Cheung
    July 15th, 2009 at 05:07 | #12

    To Tony and JXie:
    I must say, in all my life, I’ve never referred to myself as a han-ren. It’s been Tang-ren all the way, and same goes for my parents. Of course, this is likely explained by the fact that we’re of the S. China persuasion. From time to time, if a buddy did something particularly worthy of praise, we might throw in a “good Han” every now and again.

  13. huaren
    July 15th, 2009 at 06:47 | #13

    Hi Willow,

    I think this idea of an “ethnic fault line” really depends on how you see the glass.

    Generically, if you look at any society, the really big fault line could simply be between men and women. There could be a fault line between one village and another one just over the hill. It could be between straight people and gay people.

    Fault lines become dangerous when a group does not give a damn about their membership within some bigger group.

    If you think about the USA, it manages to hold “it” together with even greater odds and arguably stronger “fault lines” in my opinion:

    1. The Blacks were enslaved for 100+ years.
    2. Native Americans were essentially dessimated in their population.
    3. Mexican Americans were assimilated with territories taken by force.
    4. Places like Hawaii and Alaska were purchased or taken.
    5. Minorities had racist laws enacted against them by the government.

    Under such circumstances, the USA can stay together.

    The Chinese population, even with its 56 ethnic groups, to me are infinitely more uniform than the melting pot that is America today.

    I agree with you about the “strong cultural ethos.”

    When you travel in China from north to south and then east to west – plot on the map each time you see a Chinese man squating on the floor holding a huge rice bowl with meat and green veggies piling on top – and he’s marshalling rice, veggies, meat into his mouth with his chopsticks with such efficiency – you start to wonder where you can buy the same thing – that’s ethos.

    Now try to picture this Chinese man in any other place. I have a hard time.

    Regarding the WSJ article – I think it is rather shallow. For some WSJ readers, maybe thinking China has an “ethnic fault line” makes them want to buy more copies of WSJ.

  14. Steve
    July 15th, 2009 at 18:01 | #14

    @ huaren: I agree with you that all countries have ethnic fault lines in some shape or form. For me, it’s more of a question on how they choose to address those fault lines. There is only one way to judge the policy and that is by results. If the results don’t achieve the objective, then the policy needs to undergo revision or replacement. China has tried to address the fault lines with affirmative action programs that seem to garner resentment from the Han while not satisfying the Uighur. I wonder if a different approach might work better.

    Ethnicity changes over time. The United States started out as a European, African and Native American culture. Over its history, it has gradually taken in more and more cultures until these days, it is based more on an idea than on any particular cultural ethos. Those individual cultural ethos have been replaced by a general American cultural ethos that each individual culture modifies to some extent. The flavors in the melting pot tend to blend better than just about any other culture.

    China is a different culture. Because it is 90% Han, the Han culture is dominant, as would be expected. When you said “Fault lines become dangerous when a group does not give a damn about their membership within some bigger group”, it sounded like you’re putting the onus on the minorities to adapt to the Han culture. Is this true? If this isn’t what you meant, then I didn’t quite understand what you were trying to say. I think over time, the ethnicities in China will be swallowed up by the dominant Han culture, just from sheer numbers. There will always be pockets of minorities, but sooner or later most of the land will be multiethnic with a culture that is based on Han mores. That’s why I don’t think the US and China compare well. Their roots are just too different.

    When you say the Chinese population is more uniform than American culture today, I agree with you if you mean that a 90% Han population would natural be more uniform than the American cultural stew. However, if you look at the gap between cultures, I would say that gap is much narrower in the States. The minority cultures are much closer to the center here than they would be in China. So the measurement definition would lead to different results, depending on how you looked at it.

    For your American examples:
    1) Black Americans have not been slaves for 150+ years and have not lived under racist segregation laws for 45+ years.
    2) Native American populations were decimated mostly from a lack of immunity towards European diseases, but their populations have increased over time. The greatest change is that intermarriage has almost eliminated “pureblood” Native Americans.
    3) The majority of Mexican Americans in both Texas and California supported the break from Mexico and many fought in both the Texican and Californian armies.
    4) Alaska was purchased from the Russians, not the Eskimos, so it was already part of an imperial state. Virtually no one lived there and even today, virtually no one lives there. Hawaii was taken by the Americans but if it hadn’t, Japan had every intention of doing so. Japan still had designs on integrating Hawaii in WWII. Unfortunately for Hawaiians, they would have been part of someone’s imperial empire regardless of whether the United States invaded or not.
    5) Absolutely true. The other travesty was unequal enforcement of the law.

    Honestly, I don’t think most WSJ readers care much about China except how it affects their investments.

  15. huaren
    July 15th, 2009 at 18:59 | #15

    Hi Steve, #14,

    I agree with you – the best way to judge the policy is by results. I also agree, the US has this melting pot blended better than most any other place on this planet. It is quite impressive. It would be very instructive to find out how the U.S. is able to achieve this.

    (For other readers, I have stated that the U.S. is also a work in progress as there are certainly huge race issues still.)

    My view of the U.S. culture is that it is European-centerred and formulated by this European-centerred majority over time. Every other minority mostly “conform” to this majority. Within the 90% Han population, it is also varied just as you would argue the variation between British or Italian American.

    I think it boils down to this:

    1. The majority needs to be accepting of the minority culture as much as possible.

    2. The minority needs to be pragmatic about their differences within the context of the majority.

    3. Governments need to make laws as equal as possible for both the majority and the minority.

    4. Anyone attempting to undermine #1 and #2 should be viewed as criminals against humanity.

    I personally don’t believe in afirmative action. As some reader here said, it formalizes segregation in peoples minds.

    When I said about the fault lines becoming dangerous – I meant generically.

    From practicality stand point, there is indeed quite a bit of onus on the minority’s part which I think we take for granted.

    Below is an example:

    Can Mexican Americans protest on the streets that they don’t speak perfect English and as a result they are at a disadvantage? Mexican Americans must conform to the fact that they need to speak “perfect” English in order to be as competitive in American society.

    Will learning to speak “perfect” English be a detriment to their Spanish language skills? Again, from a practicality standpoint, I believe so in general. Is that the majority squashing the minority’s culture? I think so. I find nothing wrong with that.

    On the American examples – thx for the nuance, Steve.

    Still, those are bigger fault lines in my view, and to the credit of the Americans, the stew is still intact.

  16. Steve
    July 15th, 2009 at 19:17 | #16

    Very nice post, huaren. I’m always learning something from you. 🙂

    I think the way the US has been able to achieve this melting pot is by providing opportunity for its newer citizens. The history of the country is one of immigrants taking the tougher jobs but their children becoming educated and eventually well paid and then accepted into the overall society. Because we don’t have a permanent aristocracy (that’s why I support the so-called “Death Tax” or “Inheritance Tax” providing it has a relatively large exemption amount) these newly affluent people can blend in with the older affluent to form a more cohesive society. Because of the melting pot culture, the basis of being “American” is based on ideas rather than ethnicity or religion. I’m not sure it can be replicated in other countries because of their historical past and more ethnic culture.

    Are there race issues? Absolutely. But those issues are nothing like when I was young. The difference is night and day. As I’ve said before, if I had married my wife 50 years ago we might have been ostracized from both of our cultures.

    I agree with all four of your points.

    I’m not sure that learning to speak perfect English will necessarily quash foreign language skills. I know many Chinese American kids who speak both languages though obviously their English is better than their Chinese, but they speak to their parents in Chinese at home. In three generations, I’d guess the Chinese would either be more remedial or disappear completely. Even the values disappear. One of my wife’s relatives refers to it as becoming “disoriented”. 😉

  17. huaren
    July 15th, 2009 at 23:02 | #17

    Hi Steve, #16,

    Thx, and the feeling is mutual. I think you have a very open mind which enables you to connect with many perspectives.

    I like this idea of equal access to opportunities and the believe that you (especially the minority) have the same chance as the majority at success.

    In the U.S., I see magazines dedicated to Black or Latino businesses teaching the minorities on how to succeed. Over time, I believe this sort of things will have positive and lasting effect.

    JXie’s true love – Tibetan singer, Alan – I’d think many ethnic Tibetans would see the success in Alan – in her ability to speak Mandarin and tap the general market with her Mandarin songs. More of such examples would help.

    The Chinese government has the incredible task of ensuring economic development throughout China, and as long as that continues well, then I think the trend of more minorities succeeding will help with this issue. It also cultivates more respect from the majority for the minority.

    My friends who are second generation Chinese Americans are completly “disoriented.”

    There are some vocal few in this world ready to label this “disorientation” “cultural genocide.” I think they are nuts.

  18. raventhorn4000
    July 15th, 2009 at 23:21 | #18

    Good point Huaren,

    The idea of a melting point is not someone who drops 1 culture for another.

    Chinese admire other Chinese who can speak Chinese and English well, as well as any Foreigner who can speak Chinese and foreign language well.

    There is indeed “disorientation” among Chinese Americans, who simply dropped much of their Chinese cultural heritage and became “assimilated 1 way only”.

    I became “diverse” because I chose to “assimilate” a new culture into myself, rather than let the new culture assimilate me.

    If all “assimilations” are 1 way, then diversity becomes a this-or-that proposition, and US is not a “melting pot”.

  19. huaren
    July 15th, 2009 at 23:46 | #19

    Hi raventhorn4000, #18,

    Thx.

    “I became “diverse” because I chose to “assimilate” a new culture into myself, rather than let the new culture assimilate me.”

    Good for you! That’s a really responsible attitude, as opposed to the “feed me” type.

  20. raventhorn4000
    July 15th, 2009 at 23:55 | #20

    If China is to stand on her own feet, China must never become “feed me” type.

    We Chinese must preserve the our culture as well as learn new cultures. This is how we have changed and survived over the 1000’s of years.

    If we had simply dropped everything we are for the what was dominant superpower of the times, then China would have been gone a long time ago.

  21. Otto Kerner
    July 16th, 2009 at 04:33 | #21

    @huaren and Steve,

    “1. The majority needs to be accepting of the minority culture as much as possible.

    2. The minority needs to be pragmatic about their differences within the context of the majority.

    3. Governments need to make laws as equal as possible for both the majority and the minority.

    4. Anyone attempting to undermine #1 and #2 should be viewed as criminals against humanity.”

    This strikes me as a dangerous train of thought, because #4 appears to set up a category crime on the basis of a person’s opinions rather than their material actions. #4 says that it is a crime against humanity to undermine minorities’ being “pragmatic”. But, obviously, different people will have very different ideas about what is pragmatic and what isn’t. Almost nobody would self-describe as being against pragmatism.

  22. huaren
    July 16th, 2009 at 05:55 | #22

    Hi Otto Kerner, #21,

    I understand your point.

    To me, “difficulty” in determining “pragmatic” enough is very similar to determining “intentionally” enough or “motive” enough as is done in all criminal cases. Maybe our lawyer readers here could comment.

    I just want to make sure – your point is that it is difficult to implement – not that those inciting racial hatred is not criminal, right?

  23. Steve
    July 16th, 2009 at 06:07 | #23

    @ Otto Kerner: Yes, you’re right. “Criminals against humanity” is pretty strong. What I got from huaren is that both groups need to meet somewhere in the middle instead of both sitting on the edges waiting for all the movement to come from the other side.

  24. JXie
    July 16th, 2009 at 17:58 | #24

    SKC #12

    We all know the term “Tang Ren” exists and mostly used by oversea Chinese of southern varieties. The question in hand is whether Tang Ren is just a synonym of Han Ren, i.e. does it include northern Hans? If not, then where is the line of “Tang Ren” and non-“Tang Ren” Hans drawn?

    BTW, “good han”, i.e. “好汉”, originated from “汉武征匈奴二十余年,马畜孕重,堕殒疲极,闻汉兵莫不畏者,称为『汉儿』,又曰『好汉』,自后遂为男子之称。” It developed as a connotation loosely translated as “stand-up adult man” in English, before the word Han carried any meaning of ethnicity. Basically, you can call any man as a “good han”, even if that person obviously is not a Han.

  25. Otto Kerner
    July 18th, 2009 at 01:24 | #25

    huaren,

    “I just want to make sure – your point is that it is difficult to implement – not that those inciting racial hatred is not criminal, right?”

    Generally, I don’t think that expressing any opinions should be illegal. If you say something like “The Danes are subhuman, like cockroaches. Kill them!”, that could potentially constitute part of a conspiracy to commit actual murder, and could reasonably be treated as a crime. Even if you say something a little more indirect, like “The Rumantsch are pathetic vermin. They deserve to die!”, that could be treated as a thinly veiled command in certain circumstances. But, if all you say is “I detest the people of Andorra, and you should, too!”, I think that falls into the category of free speech and should be protected.

    I’m also not sure where “inciting racial hatred” fits into the four points you made. None of them mention racial hatred specifically. You say, “The minority needs to be pragmatic about their differences within the context of the majority”, but some people might say that racial hatred is the pragmatic attitude to take in some situations (not an opinion, I share, needless to say). I suppose few of them would describe their own opinions as racial hatred, but what seems pragmatic to one person might seem like racial hatred to another. I can’t help but have the feeling that your four points would criminalise Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Nation of Islam.

  26. huaren
    July 18th, 2009 at 05:22 | #26

    Hi Otto Kerner, #25,

    At least I think we agree on what the U.S.’s First Amendment is all about – it does not allow one to incite another to commit crime. There are tons of other limits by the way.

    I am not sure where China’s laws are in terms of equivalence to the U.S. First Amendment. So I think you would agree that Chinese citizens have to operate within Chinese laws and their interpretations.

    On “inciting racial hatred” – I guess this idea (I’d thought) has always been crystal clear in my mind until you raised it here that it is ambiguous. I kind of see your point. How does raising legitimate ethnically motivated grievances become inciting racial hatred? How do you draw the line?

    I’m really curious what other FM readers here think too.

    If we take Kadeer as an example: If her accusations are proven false and she continues to make those accusations. Wouldn’t you consider that as inciting racial hatred? If she’s physically within China’s jurisdiction, then I can see this implementable. If there is extradition agreement with her host country, then China could try to make a case.

  27. huaren
    July 18th, 2009 at 05:25 | #27

    Btw, if the Chinese government has hard evidence that Kadeer help coordinated the riot which resulted in the death of so many, and they found her guilty, I am fully for justice against her and WUC.

    Now we are simply talking about “expressing opinion” part.

  28. raventhorn4000
    July 18th, 2009 at 19:17 | #28

    “Inciting Racial Hatred” is not isolated to “inciting” vs. “racial hatred”. It is to be taken as a whole as a “true threat” in legal terms. (True threats are not protected in US, and are prosecuted as crimes in US.)

    Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Nation of Islam may have their own “racial hatred” as opinions, but if they speak them loudly such “opinions” in the Middle of the LA riot, that would go BEYOND merely having “opinions”, that would be a “true threat”/incitement to cause imminent violence.

    Kadeer did exactly that.

  29. Otto Kerner
    July 18th, 2009 at 20:42 | #29

    Raventhorn,

    You are quite wrong if you think that nobody in America expressed inflammatory opinions during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Americans may have regarded such opinions with scorn, but they were obviously not considered to be illegal. If you made the same comments while physically on the ground during the riots within earshot of a mob in such a way that you seemed to be egging them on to acts of violence, that would probably be a crime.

    Also, I have never heard anything from Rabiye Qadir that I regard as inciting racial hatred. Can you enlighten me? Perhaps, “I unequivocally condemn the use of violence by Uighurs during the demonstration as much as I do China’s use of excessive force against protestors”? Oh, the true threat of it! My ears are bleeding.

  30. raventhorn4000
    July 19th, 2009 at 00:55 | #30

    Otto,

    “You are quite wrong if you think that nobody in America expressed inflammatory opinions during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Americans may have regarded such opinions with scorn, but they were obviously not considered to be illegal.”

    Name 1.

    “Also, I have never heard anything from Rabiye Qadir that I regard as inciting racial hatred. Can you enlighten me? Perhaps, “I unequivocally condemn the use of violence by Uighurs during the demonstration as much as I do China’s use of excessive force against protestors”? Oh, the true threat of it! My ears are bleeding.”

    Yeah, I’m sure White Supremists can say the same about their “defense of the White race”. Isn’t it rather typical of racists to openly condemn “violence”, and then on the other hand, blame race problems to other side?

    By your definition, is “cross burning” a “true threat”? Is it a Holy ritual, a threat?

    Well, in US, it is a crime of “true threat” in some States now. Supreme Court has upheld those laws.

    I don’t know why some people choose to be so blatantly blind to gleeful “incitement” of ongoing violence.

    Kadeer’s “condemnation” is akin to the man with White Hood on at the cross burning saying “but we don’t hate them, and we don’t condone violence. But God will strike them down. And our weapons are only for self-defense.”

    Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more.

  31. raventhorn4000
    July 19th, 2009 at 02:08 | #31

    “We love our own kind enough to stay separate,” countered Karl Gharst, of Hayden, Idaho, one of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian/Aryan Nations. “We don’t ask people to commit crimes.”

  32. Otto Kerner
    July 19th, 2009 at 05:06 | #32

    @Raventhorn #30,

    “Name 1.”

    I don’t know the specifics, because this fact is so obvious that I didn’t bother to research it at all.

    “Kadeer’s ‘condemnation’ is akin to the man with White Hood on at the cross burning …”

    It is apparent there your view of her is far from neutral. I’m sure she will always seem like a racial supremacist to you.

  33. Otto Kerner
    July 19th, 2009 at 05:15 | #33

    @huaren #26,

    “I am not sure where China’s laws are in terms of equivalence to the U.S. First Amendment. So I think you would agree that Chinese citizens have to operate within Chinese laws and their interpretations.”

    I certainly do not. Some laws and some interpretations of laws are unjust and people should attempt to ignore them when possible. So, it would depend a lot on what the law is and what the intrepetation is.

  34. raventhorn4000
    July 19th, 2009 at 12:22 | #34

    “I don’t know the specifics, because this fact is so obvious that I didn’t bother to research it at all.”

    It’s only obvious that you “don’t know the specifics”, and you “didn’t bother to research it at all”. I don’t know where you got the “so obvious” part from.

    *
    “Kadeer’s ‘condemnation’ is akin to the man with White Hood on at the cross burning …”

    It is apparent there your view of her is far from neutral. I’m sure she will always seem like a racial supremacist to you.”

    It is apparent that you can’t quote my complete sentence, I’m sure that has something to do with your apparent blindness to Kadeer’s “incitement”.

  35. raventhorn4000
    July 19th, 2009 at 14:50 | #35

    http://www.thetalkingdrum.com/prison1.html

    Other revolutionary organizers suffered similar
    entrapments. The Revolutionary Action Movement’s (RAM) Herman
    Ferguson and Max Stamford were arrested in 1967 on spurious
    charges of conspiring to kill Civil Rights leaders. In the
    same year Amiri Baraka (the poet and playwright LeRoi Jones)
    was arrested for transporting weapons in a van during the
    Newark riots and did a brief stint in Trenton State Prison
    until a successful appeal overturned his conviction. SNCC’s
    Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, and other orators were
    constantly threatened or charged with “inciting to riot” as
    they crisscrossed the country speaking to mass audiences.
    Congress passed so-called “Rap Brown” laws to deter speakers
    from crossing state lines to address mass audiences lest a
    disturbance break out, leaving them vulnerable to federal
    charges and imprisonment.

  36. raventhorn4000
    July 19th, 2009 at 15:02 | #36

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/04/26/AR2005042600490.html

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005; Page A01
    A prominent Muslim spiritual leader from Fairfax County was convicted yesterday of inciting his followers to train overseas for violent jihad against the United States.

    The jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria decided that Ali Al-Timimi’s words, coming shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, were enough to send him to prison for what prosecutors said will be a mandatory life sentence.

    *
    Otto,

    you can certainly try to “attempt to ignore” the “unjust laws”, but governments can still try to put you away.

    And it’s not “your interpretation” that will matter, it’s the jury of “12 angry men”.

  37. raventhorn4000
    July 19th, 2009 at 15:21 | #37

    Incidentally, one should read what Indonesia considers “inciting religious hatred”.

    1 Muslim cleric was sentenced to 2 years for teaching bilingual Islamic Prayers.

    http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?we_cat=9&art_id=14909&sid=7160632&con_type=1&d_str=20060324&fc=10

  38. huaren
    July 19th, 2009 at 22:27 | #38

    Hi Otto Kerner, #33,

    @huaren #26,

    “I am not sure where China’s laws are in terms of equivalence to the U.S. First Amendment. So I think you would agree that Chinese citizens have to operate within Chinese laws and their interpretations.”

    I certainly do not. Some laws and some interpretations of laws are unjust and people should attempt to ignore them when possible. So, it would depend a lot on what the law is and what the intrepetation is.

    Wow, this sounds really dangerous to me.

    Could you enlighten us then what Chinese laws are “unjust”?

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