Excuse me for a moment while I self-indulge just a bit more than usual. The University of Michigan just finished a "themed year" (meaning a year-long set of campus-wide activities, presentations, etc) related to China. The editor of the U-M alumni magazine invited me, last week, to contribute a first-person essay based on my experiences in China. So I did.
"Everything we know about China is wrong."
This went live yesterday morning.
By 1:30 PM, I had received this (cc'd to 22 or so people):
"Well Professor, your article reads like an ad for a travel agency.
Am I wrong to think that China has been stealing secrets from our military and corporations for years? Am I wrong to think that many Chinese fathers still dump female babies in their local rivers? Am I wrong to think that the Chinese still pollute their land, water and air with disease causing toxins? Am I wrong or did I see on the news where their military was shooting so much artillery into their sky to try to cause a cleansing rain prior to the Olympics? Am I wrong or did I see the Chinese government skimming up a toxic algae bog in a bay near Beijing, again in preparation for the Olympics and once again to mask what a filthy place Beijing really is? Am I wrong or do the Chinese allow local farmers to raise shrimp in nothing more than back yard swimming pools while dosing them with massive amounts of antibiotics so they survive the trip overseas? Am I wrong to think the Chinese really don't care if their lead based painted toys make our chidren sick? Am I wrong not to share your rosy perspective on China?"
And, at 5:00 PM, the Editor had received this one (cc'd to Bill O'Reilly, no less):
"You Professor should stick to test tubes and Bunsen burners and leave his politics at home. Does the University of Michigan really want to present a pro-China, anti-American point of view on the front pages of our school newspaper? According to your liberal professor, who obviously lives in the educational world bubble, sees the USA as glutinous garbage producer and China as a charming, diamond-in-the-rough Renaissance nation. Are ya kiddin'?"
Tomorrow: my reply.
Your homework: what do you think my reply should have been?