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Moral Equivalence, Etc.

Xi Jinping, head of the Chinese Communist Party, at a Party meeting on October 18, 2017 (China Daily via Reuters)

Today on Fox & Friends, President Trump said, “We have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi.” Once upon a time, we conservatives had a name for this: “moral equivalence.” We didn’t like it, and we were right.

What manner of man is Xi Jinping? He is presiding over the most brutal, most repressive period in China since Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Jerome A. Cohen made this point to me in an interview last year. (Cohen is the dean of China scholars in the U.S.)

Last Sunday, the New York Times splashed across its front page a report headed “‘Show Absolutely No Mercy’: Inside China’s Mass Detentions.” The quotation in the headline was of Xi Jinping. A leaker inside the Chinese Communist Party had given the Times more than 400 pages of CCP internal documents. They relate to the Uyghurs and other minorities in northwestern China. The Communists have rounded up more than a million of them and put them in concentration camps. Many have been killed, and more are sure to be killed.

This is one reason some of us may react negatively when the U.S. president says he is “standing with President Xi.” We certainly clobbered Barack Obama over less.

Also on Fox & Friends, President Trump again talked about CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity company. It is “a Ukrainian company,” he said. CrowdStrike figures in the theory of the president and many of his supporters regarding the 2016 election. They say that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democratic National Committee and then tried to make Russia look like the culprit.

This theory has been “completely debunked,” as Tom Bossert said in September. (Bossert was President Trump’s first homeland-security adviser.)

Trump continues to call CrowdStrike “a Ukrainian company,” owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. In fact, it is an American company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. It was founded in 2011 by three Americans: George Kurtz, Dmitri Alperovitch, and Gregg Marston. The second of those, true, was born in Russia — the Soviet Union, actually (Moscow, 1980). He came to America when he was a teen. The family lived in Chattanooga, Tenn. Dmitri went to Georgia Tech.

In an interview with Forbes last year, he said, “This country has been incredibly good to me. I’m a citizen and proud to contribute to the economic and national security of the country. I’m very happy my parents made the decision for our family to immigrate to America.”

CrowdStrike is employed by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Apparently, it is the cybersecurity company of choice.

Finally, I would like to call attention to this column by Joseph Kristol and Stephen Petraeus. It is headed “Trump’s ill-advised pardons will damage Americans’ view of the military.” As you know, the president issued pardons for servicemen convicted or accused of war crimes. The co-authors of the column are veterans of the Afghan War.

In my Impromptus today, I quote a tweet by President Trump: “We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!” I also quote a tweet by Ben Shapiro, written on Veterans Day: “Thank you to those who have served and are serving in the US military, the greatest, most moral military on the planet.”

One respondent to Ben said, “Not sure what a moral military is but happy Veterans Day.” I think most of us can understand what Ben meant.

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