I keep in touch with an acquaintance who lives who lives in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with her husband who is a Chinese national. Through carefully coded communiques, she has revealed that they and their young daughter (she is pregnant) have been forced from their home in advance of the games. And, they are not as at risk as some because she is still a U.S. citizen.
Not only that but report after report leaking out from behind the Great Wall indicates that people who are potential “embarrassments” to the PRC are being rounded up in advance of the Beijing Olympics and… and what?… no one knows where they are or what is happening to them.
Congressman Wolf has been a leading advocate for oppressed and downtrodden people world wide throughout his entire career. He is never more passionate than when he’s talking about a trip to China, the Sudan or another hotspot where he encountered the persecuted, the dissidents and the displaced.
For the better part of a year, Congressman Wolf has been sounding warning bells about the human rights violations of the communist Chinese government in advance of the Olympics. Despite promises to allow free media access in advance of the games and to treat their citizens with basic human dignity, the PRC has instead stepped up persecution and tightened restrictions on foreign journalists.
Wolf has repeatedly called on Americans, including his congressional colleagues to boycott the games in Beijing, comparing them to the games held in Germany as the Nazi’s were slaughtering their Jewish neighbors.
When President Bush expressed concern that boycotting the games would offend the Chinese, Wolf responded sharply. He called on the President to express the moral courage that Reagan did in speaking out against communism.
Wolf said that if Bush attended the games “it will be an affront to the Catholic bishops, protestant pastors” and others who have been persecuted and murdered under the PRC.
Wolf is right. Bush is MIA when it comes to moral leadership.
But here is the larger point. Wolf is right for calling Bush to a higher standard.
Over and over, we hear from old guard Republicans who try to whip the grassroots into shape with accusations that they are breaking Reagan’s 11th commandment. Holding a Republican elected official accountable — even to his or her own promises — is frequently met with accusations of “Republican treason” against the offending member of the grassroots. We are supposed to shut up and be good little soldiers even while the folks we elected to represent us betray us on the issues over and over again.
The 11th Commandment was never meant to suppress honest discussion of issues or accountability. It has always been a call to refrain from slandering a fellow Republican.
So here is the question: is Wolf breaking the 11th Commandment by challenging Bush to boycott the Beijing games? Or is he being a man of principle?
And, if Wolf is doing the right thing, then shouldn’t we? Tell your legislators what you care about and remember they are elected to represent you. Our party isn’t – and shouldn’t be a top down affair. And, when they do the right thing, thank them.