The Corner

A Song and an Obscenity

 

Last week, I had a note in this space about Lang Lang, who has become a kind of court pianist for President Obama and the Chinese leadership — the Chinese dictatorship, to put it more bluntly.

He played at the Beijing Olympics. He played at Obama’s Nobel ceremony. He played at the White House event for Paul McCartney — the one at which McCartney made a ridiculous anti-Bush crack, which caused Lang Lang and the Obama crowd to laugh like hyenas. And he played at Obama’s state dinner last week for Hu Jintao.

What did he play? Most notably and significantly, he played a famous anti-American propaganda song. Famous in China, that is. Wei Jingsheng, the great Chinese democracy leader, exiled in the United States since 1997, wrote a letter to Congress and Secretary of State Clinton. He said, “I listened to that music with a big shock.” Wei explained that the song, “My Country,” or “My Motherland,” comes from “the best-known Communist propaganda movie about the Korean War,” depicting the Chinese army’s fight with the Americans. The movie is called The Battle of Triangle Hill. Wei said that the movie is as well-known in China as Gone with the Wind is here.

The song refers to the Americans as “wolves” or “jackals,” and says that the Chinese will use weapons to deal with them. Wei commented, “Is that not an insult to the USA to play such . . . music at a state dinner hosted by the US President? No wonder it made Hu Jintao really happy.” Yes, no wonder. As Wei pointed out, Hu is not ordinarily given to public emotion, but he emotionally embraced Lang Lang.

An article in the Epoch Times reports on an interview that Lang Lang gave to a Hong Kong-based TV outlet. He said that he himself chose to play that song. “I thought to play ‘My Motherland’ because I think playing the tune at the White House banquet can help us, as Chinese people, feel extremely proud of ourselves and express our feelings through the song.” The act of playing this song at the White House will have, and has had, an effect that most Americans would find difficult to comprehend.

The Epoch Times quotes a Chinese psychiatrist living in Philadelphia, Yang Jingduan: “In the eyes of all Chinese, this will not be seen as anything other than a big insult to the U.S. It’s like insulting you in your face and you don’t know it, it’s humiliating.” In his letter, Wei said that so-called patriotic Chinese — supporters of the Communist party and the dictatorship — were ecstatic over “My Motherland” at the White House. One such “patriotic Chinese” exclaimed, “The right place, right time, right song!” (This is a phrase with roots in CCP propaganda, as the Epoch Times article explains.)

Well, nice going, Lang Lang. In and around every dictatorship, there are official artists. The Nazis had them, the Soviets had them — all the worst have them. Lang Lang has chosen to be an official artist. Of course, the bad old USA has helped him a lot. He came here to complete his musical education. He studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia with Gary Graffman. He has had the countless benefits of living and working in a free society. What a contrast with Lang Lang’s fellow Chinese who languish in laogai, that country’s gulag.

This is one pianist who stands with the persecutors, not with the persecuted. Wei Jingsheng, Gao Zhisheng — those are great Chinese, the pride of the nation. Lang Lang, and Hu Jintao, for that matter, are very different Chinese.

Obama’s hosting of Hu, and what amounts to a celebration of that dictatorship, has been a disaster, from nearly every point of view. George W. Bush did not grant Hu a state visit. Hu settled for a more modest visit — the kind the head of a police state should settle for, in a liberal democracy. Bush gave him a polite lunch and sent him on his way. Obama created the opportunity for a great CCP propaganda victory. The dictatorship is delighted, and the prisoners, dissidents, and democrats feel something else.

Nice going, Obama. Real nice. Is it 2012 yet?

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