I mean, consider the source.
But it was so bad, it triggered a type of gag reflex in me.
In the article, the Deputy Editor of the China Times Chen Weihua said that it made perfect sense for the U.S. Olympic team uniforms to be made in China and chided Senator Reid for suggesting that the uniforms should be made by members of our extended American family. Mr. Weihua then proceeded to lay out a couple of real whoppers.
First, Mr. Weihau stated that if the Congress passed a bill requiring our legislators to wear American made clothing, “most, if not all, would find themselves going around naked and barefoot.” A snarky little quote I have to admit, but complete bullshit.
Just for fun, let’s dress Senator Reid. Senator Reid could choose a fashionable dress shirt made by White Dress Shirts or the Gitman company. He could purchase a Hart Schaffner Marx Blue Suit, currently on sale for $399.00. Senator Reid could buy boxers or briefs from Union House for about $9.00 a pair. Wigwam socks are made in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and would set Senator Reid back about $6.50 a pair.
Senator Reid is known for his ties and he has a large number of American made ties to choose from: Todd Shelton, Andrew David Design Inc, Alex Main, Beau Ties Ltd of Vermont and Carrot & Gibbs. Finally, Senator Reid would do well to wear Allen Edmonds. They wear very well and are virtually indestructible. Which is more than I can say for the two pairs of Chinese made shoes I made the mistake of purchasing in the past at Macy’s.
The next canard put forward by Mr. Weihua is that if apparel manufacturing was reshored to the U.S., “all of the US clothing firms, including Ralph Lauren, would soon go bust because of the high labor costs in the US.” It may be news to Mr. Weihau but firms like Gitman, Allen Edmonds, and Wigwam have been making apparel in this country for more than 75 years and have somehow managed to keep the lights on. Not to mention the hundreds of apparel startups in L.A, New York, and Atlanta. But hey, why contradict your arguments with facts?
But the worst is saved for last. “Reid’s nonsense aside, what struck me most is the silence of the people who should know full well such ideas are madness. Obama and Romney, who probably know better, and other political leaders, who clearly disagree, are afraid to speak up for fear of being labeled “unpatriotic” or “un-American. However, Ralph Lauren and the US Olympic Committee have been forced to compromise by announcing that Team USA for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games will be outfitted with made-in-the-USA uniforms. This is quite scary in a country that claims to champion freedom of speech and a free market economy.” No, what is quite scary is Mr. Weihua’s misunderstanding of the concepts of freedom of speech and free market economics. But not that tough to understand since China has neither.
Let’s set it out for Mr. Weihau. Freedom of speech means everyone in this country can speak out on issues like whether our national olympic team, which represents the American people, ought to be outfitted in uniforms made by some of those American people. We can bicker and argue over the issue. Citizens can write letters to the U.S. Olympic Committee that open with the phrase, “Dear idiots, make sure you hire Americans to make our national uniforms from now on or you can whistle for any further donations from me.” And no one gets thrown in jail or beat up for expressing those opinions.
A free market economy means that firms can choose to locate their production facilities here or in the Middle Kingdom. It also means that consumers who think that it is important that our national uniforms are made by Americans can decide that they will be buying a Hart Schaffner Marx suit instead of a Ralph Lauren Polo suit since they couldn’t believe Ralph would be so stupid as to make our national team’s uniforms in China.
Because of our freedom of speech in this country, Mr. Weihua can write whatever he wants to write. But an editor of the China Daily lecturing Senator Reid on America’s deficiencies regarding freedom of speech is fairly rich. Reporters Without Borders ranks China’s press situation as “very serious”, the worst ranking on their five-point scale. China’s Internet censorship policy is labeled as “pervasive” by the OpenNet Initiative’s global Internet filtering map, also the worst ranking used. Freedom House ranks the press there as “not free”, the worst ranking, saying that “state control over the news media in China is achieved through a complex combination of party monitoring of news content, legal restrictions on journalists, and financial incentives for self-censorship.”
Journalists in China who publish items that are controversial can get hurt. Human Rights Watch reported last year that Chinese journalists continued to face physical violence for reporting on “sensitive” topics. “On April 20, 2010, 10 unidentified assailants attacked Beijing News reporter Yang Jie while he photographed the site of a forced eviction. Police at the scene briefly detained the assailants before releasing them, characterizing their actions as a “misunderstanding.” On September 8, 2010, security guards beat three reporters from Jilin and Changchun television stations attempting to cover a fire at the City College of Jilin Architecture and Civil Engineering.”
Given these facts, if Mr. Weihua ever wants to publish an article taking the chairman of the PRC to task for infringing on the freedom of Chinese journalists to report on (1) the anniversary of Tiananmen Square, (2) Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, (3) Tibet or a host of other subjects the PRC considers “sensitive”, I think it would be in his best interest to pen the article at his office in New York as opposed to the China Daily office in Beijing.