The Media’s Mixed Messages

  The 1990s were called the decade of irony, but nothing can hold a candle to what we see these days. Take, for example, two stories in yesterday's New York Times. I was reading the Times and I came to page A6, a news report entitled "U.S. to Move Against Japan Over Whales." It says that the White House plans to declare economic war on our major trading partner in Asia. Why? Because Japanese fishermen have expanded their whale hunting, going after the Bryde's and sperm whales in the North Pacific. They're doing so, they say, for scientific research, which gives them protection under international whaling rules. Well, this is a matter of such gravity that, according to the story, Secretary of State Madeline Albright met with Japan's foreign minister to demand they stop. She didn't persuade him, so now the U.S. government will impose economic sanctions on Japan within two months. A trade war with Japan . . . over whales?! Well, I read on. Two pages later, on page A8 there was an article headlined "Wavering Senators Feeling Pressure Over China Trade Bill." It reported the wailing and gnashing of teeth on Capitol Hill over proposed amendments to the bill granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. The Thompson- Torricelli amendment, now being considered in the Senate, would impose sanctions on companies caught expanding chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons exports -- which we know the Chinese have been doing. Dangerously so, in fact, exporting sensitive technology to Pakistan that could incite a war between Pakistan and India. The Clinton Administration is in a panic because, if the Thompson-Torricelli amendment passes, it might scuttle the bill to approve trade with China. China won't get into the World Trade Organization, and American business interests will suffer. Free trade, they argue, is an inviolable principle. Why are some senators opposing trade with China? In addition to selling weapons that can start a war, the Chinese have locked up 138 evangelicals a few weeks ago, including three Americans. They've put 85 Christian leaders on trial for their faith. They've driven out home churches. They use prison labor to produce goods. And they have blocked the Dalai Lama from attending a religious conference at the U.N. just last week. That's for starters. Sanctions on the Chinese for offenses like these? Heavens, no. But hunting whales? Oh, my, that calls for sanctions against Japan! Here are two economic powers, side by side in Asia, both major trade partners and both huge markets. Don't the editors of the New York Times read their own paper and see the inconsistency? Have we as a people been so dumbed down we can't see it? Well, this is what happens, I'm afraid, in a postmodern culture where all values are equivalent and all truth is relative. One moment the President browbeats Congress to pass a trade bill with China. Forget Christians being persecuted. The same day the same President moments later angrily demands sanctions against Japan for hunting whales. There are no principles, just momentary preferences, and everything depends on what's to be gained by those in positions of power. The media won't say it, so maybe it's time you and I spoke up. And those who can see need to say -- and say loudly -- that what's good enough for whales ought to be good enough for persecuted Christians.


Chuck Colson



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