In response to the slayings at Virginia Tech this week, upon seeing the shooter's ethnicity prematurely declared to be that of Chinese, many de facto Chinese bloggers were in disbelief, some ran with the false news to further their political agendas, but most were sympathetic to the victims, their classmates, friends and families. Then there were the views like those expressed in journalist and Bullog blogger Ten Years of Chopping Timber‘s post today, in response to two commonly-seen tragedies in China, ‘Waiting for Bush to Reciprocate‘
Waiting for Bush to Reciprocate
Upon news of the massacre of 33 students (including the killer) at America's Virginia Tech, our national leaders immediately sent their condolences, truly a magnificient power, a country of etiquette. Almost at the same time as this massacre was taking place, two tragedies struck this great land China: a mine disaster in Baofeng County in Henan province in which 33 people were unknown to be dead or alive; and a ladle for pouring molten steel at the Qinghe Special Steel Corporation in Tieling city, Liaoning province derailed, leading to 32 deaths. The numbers of victims are so close, and the time was nearly simultaneous, so assuming a principle of reciprocated etiquette, Bush ought to send our government his consolation.
Given that America is the only superpower, and such a bad-ass one, yet after receiving our nation's leaders’ message of consolences, it should also have returned the call to express condolences. Until today there have been no media reports of Bush having sent a sympathetic message, and I'm afraid we'll be waiting forever for this message of condolence to arrive.
At first glance in making this comparison, you might think Bush is a bit of a birdbrain, that he doesn't know what he's doing, that even the people and his own family know it's impolite not to reciprocate. But before you start cursing Bush, you first need to see the attitudes the two governments take towards the tragic deaths of their own people.
In America, everybody lowers the flag to half-mast for a week, and Mrs. Bush visited the campus where the slayings took place to express condolences in person. If our nation dealt with things this way, I imagine there wouldn't be many days when the flag in Tiananmen Square would ever rise to the top of the flagpole, and our national leaders wouldn't ever have much time to leave the country for visits. After these two disasters took place in our country, except for their relatives, how many people expressed sorrow for them? Yet the American government has turned the slayings into national mourning.
When heads of state give condolences over tragedies, it's not important how many of the other side's people died, but the country's government's expression of sympathy in itself. Regardless of how big or small, weak or strong the country is, some people will have money and others none, but attitudes toward life not only depend on whether said people are rich or poor, but also on the rulers’ attitude towards life. If an exceptionally rich family, upon seeing the death of a slave or small animal, merely finds a random place to bury them and be done with it, is anyone going to bother come mourn? Don't they know that putting this much effort into mourning over people amounts to mocking them? If an exceptionally poor family approaches the bereavement of its family members with earnest, people from all corners of the land will come show their respects. To not go would be disrespectful.
So, if Bush's condolences never come, he'll have nobody to blame but himself.