At­ti­tudes on dis­sent

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

Three ma­jor gov­ern­ments ex­hibit their at­ti­tude to­ward dis­sent in the world to­day.

Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia usu­ally as­sas­si­nates his chief com­peti­tors. Not openly, of course.

Xi Jin­ping of China di­rects the full weight of his bu­reau­cracy against his dis­si­dents. One ex­iled dis­si­dent, Yu Jie, stated, ac­cord­ing to a story printed in the Demo­crat-Gazette, “In front of the world, Liu Xiaobo is be­ing mur­dered by Xi Jin­ping. Yet not a sin­gle Western po­lit­i­cal fig­ure is con­demn­ing Xi Jin­ping.”

Our politi­cians are prob­a­bly not even aware of the bold and ar­tic­u­late stand Liu Xiaobo took against Chi­nese gov­ern­ment sup­pres­sion of dis­sent in both his speeches and his writ­ing be­fore he was tried and con­victed of ex­cit­ing sub­ver­sion and sen­tenced to 11 years in prison back in 2009. When I vis­ited his home­town of Changchun in 2010, no one even knew that he had won the No­bel Peace Prize and was not even al­lowed to travel to Stock­holm to ac­cept it be­fore he went to prison.

Back in the Nixon era, former Sen. J.W. Ful­bright stated that po­lit­i­cal dis­sent was not only a right, but a duty.

To­day, re­gard­less of their stature, Don­ald Trump tweets against his po­lit­i­cal dis­senters all kinds of vile words. There is no ques­tion about how he feels to­ward a free press which has re­vealed his ap­par­ent com­plic­ity with the Rus­sian oli­garchy to wrench the pres­i­dency from its duly elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

I mourn for a brave dis­senter, Liu Xiaobo, 61, who died Thurs­day. BILL B. RHODES Moun­tain Home

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