Ted Sprague should be ashamed of and apologize for his offensive article. His perverse account of the facts distorts Liu Xiaobo’s record of commitment to human and civil rights activism, one that Sprague can only pretend to have.
Liu has been a staunch advocate of democracy for over two decades. He participated in the Tiananmen Square protests and helped develop Charter 08 in a peaceful attempt to promote such basic liberties as free speech and free elections. The Chinese government’s response has been to censor his works, put him under house arrest, and sentence him to prison or re-education camp no less than four times. The Nobel Prize Committee’s recognition of Liu’s immense courage follows expressed support for Liu from established writers, non-governmental organizations, and national governments.
Like everyone else, Liu also happens to be human. He could have been wiser than to support what is now seen as an unjust war or to overstate the case for colonialism. Yet, as far as I can tell, Liu is as honest and well-intentioned as one can get.
What disgusts me is Sprague’s suggestion that Liu is untrustworthy, “timorous, inconsistent, and half-hearted.” Sprague comes off as self-righteous (see “The long fight against ignorance” (Commentary, November 19, 2009) for more evidence of this arrogant attitude). He would do well to acknowledge the fact that not everyone who disagrees with him is an idiot. The facts are subtler than he likes to think. Many Hongkongers, including myself, would agree that colonial rule has been a boon for the city. The view that democracy and capitalism go hand-in-hand is similarly widespread in East Asia, for theoretical and practical reasons alike. Despite his claims to fight ignorance, Sprague seems remarkably misinformed.
U3 Philosophy, Mathematics, and Economics