I got a fuller report of the Confucius Prize presser this morning from Yajun…she’s under the impression that the organizers and the judges had no earthly idea what they were in for when they decided to cobble this thing together and invite 200 or so representatives of the foreign media — all desperate for column inches/bytes to fill — to attend.
Seriously…the committee might have been better off bathing in duck blood and telling a pack of sex-crazed wolverines to “bring it, bitches.”
Tan Changliu, the mastermind of this PR fiasco, closed the ceremony by scolding the visibly amused throng of journos that, “In 500 years we will see who is right.”
It probably won’t take that long. Historians are often poor predictors of what is yet to be, knowledge of the past does not guarantee a clear view of the future, but one thing studying history does do is give you a sense of how the present is likely to be remembered. It doesn’t take the wisdom of Thucydides to guess that in a decade or so when PBS does the inevitable “Eyes on the Prize”-style documentary on gay rights and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a generation of kids are going to see 2010 footage of John McCain, turn around and ask, “Mommy, you and Daddy didn’t really vote for that bad man, did you?”
So it will be with Beijing. The stage has been set such that the name “Liu Xiaοbο” will forever be linked with that of “Carl Ossietzky” in Nobel Peace Prize history, and Beijing has been playing its role so perfectly one wonders whether there is a Norwegian mole working in the Ministry of State Security. Round up dissidents? Check. Ban intellectuals from traveling freely? Check. Block international news sites and broadcasts? Check. Pressure your friends and debtors to back you? Check.
And the list of nations, “the majority of the world” in the words of the increasingly reality deprived and irony deficient Ministry of Foreign Affairs, should be entitled “countries you would never ever want to be compared to if your goal is to be seen as a responsible stakeholder in world affairs,” including Afghanistan, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Venezuela, Vietnam and Ukraine.
(It’s like being at The Den around 5:00 on a Sunday morning. Yeah, there are other people there too…but do you really post a group photo of “you and the gang” on Facebook?)
Beijing’s best response was to say nothing and save a little dignity; simply release a statement that while they disagree with the decision, they respect the right of the Norwegians to award the prize to whomever makes their glands swell and hearts go pitter-patter…then put a bag over Liu Xiaοbο’s head and put him on the first flight to Newark. Problem solved.
But by engaging in the shrill, hysterical, psychotic, and paranoid bleating of a gut-shot sheep the Chinese government is just feeding the beast. Every time The Global Times prints an editorial raving about “Western Conspiracies” or Jiang Yu breaks out her thesaurus it gives the international media another excuse to write a Liu Xiaobo story.
Besides, The Confucius Prize organizers missed their golden opportunity when they chose boring Lien Chan over Julian Assange…now THAT would have been a fun press conference.
*Okay, I made that up. This is the “Angel of Peace,” drafted at the last moment as a stand in for Lien Chan, the “winner” of the prize who unfortunately could not attend because the committee forgot to tell him.