Wash Post: Guantanamo Undermines Criticism of Chinese Repression

Just as segregation in the South “blunted the force of moral outrage against the Nazis” during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Washington Post arts critic Philip Kennicott contended in a Saturday lead “Style” section piece on a new exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on the 1936 games, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have also undermined arguments against Chinese political repression before the Olympic games there this summer.

Deep into his May 10 treatise, “Playing With Fire: U.S. Holocaust Museum Revisits Fascist Iconography of 1936 Games and Beyond,” Kennicott asserted:

It's impossible to walk through the current exhibition without feeling a repetition syndrome. Just as Jim Crow laws blunted the force of moral outrage against the Nazis, the specter of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo has blunted the force of arguments about Chinese political repression.

Even accepting the premise for 1936, a key difference is that Jim Crow laws impacted an entire segment of American citizens while Abu Ghraib was soon-corrected misbehavior by a few soldiers and Guantanamo holds a small number of people captured in a war launched against the U.S., very few of whom may be innocent. The U.S. versus China is a particularly invidious comparison in the midst of a presidential campaign to replace the current U.S. leadership, an opportunity not allowed in China. Many Americans loudly oppose the Bush administration, yet none are imprisoned -- not even Keith Olbermann.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center