Obama Soft-Pedals on Hong Kong Democracy Protests
During his visit to China, Barack Obama made statements about the protesters in Hong Kong demanding democracy free from the oversight of the communist Chinese government. Yet, his words were a whimper out of his Nicorette-chewing mouth, not the soft words of a man who carries a big stick. “Our primary message has been to make sure that violence is avoided as the people of Hong Kong try to sort through what the next phase is of their relationship to the mainland,” Obama said. See? That is the most import point about this protest: that no one gets hurt. But just to show them where we stand, let’s share a bit of our culture with them, take it or leave it. “There are certain things that the United States believes,” Obama said. “We believe in freedom of speech. We believe in freedom of association. We believe in openness in government as befitting our traditions and our way of life.” Then Obama moves in for the kicker. Here’s what he personally thinks about the situation: “I think it would be unrealistic to expect that we set those concerns aside. People have aspirations for freedom and dignity in countries all around the globe.” Twenty-seven years ago, Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall and did not mince his words. Freedom is a universal right. What the East Germans were doing was wrong. Perhaps Obama might have been bolder with his statements if he was sheltered behind his desk in the Oval Office.