An Invitation to First Lady, Michelle Obama

Can you think of anything more arrogant than being a guest in someone’s home and criticizing them because you don’t like their drapes?  Maybe yes, criticizing their drapes when you have none decorating the windows in your own home.  Most people would agree that that behavior would cross the line. How could anyone be so lacking in common courtesy and finesse – especially when that person is a brilliant, well-educated First Lady?

Well, that is what happened this week in China. Mrs. Obama did not discuss home décor issues – she discussed something far more important. She made a point of insulting China on freedom of speech issues.  How serious are these issues in China? I am no expert, but I have received many e-mails from friends in China, and there never seemed to be any problem. They never mentioned freedom of speech problems in China, but they often offered sympathy for the problems we have here in the U.S.

No one believes that China is perfect when it comes to the rights of its citizens, but let’s be fair. Could it be that China is just not as good at covering up its abuses as the U.S. is?

Throughout the U.S. violations of free speech are common. Why is this issue under the Radar… because there is often no way to know when there are violations. Speech that is banned is never heard. Books that are banned are not on the shelf. Try finding accurate information about U.S. war crimes in textbooks used in our schools. Libraries do not post lists of books they have censored. There are no billboards at the town line warning that you are entering a no-free-speech zone.

Speaking at Peking University, Mrs. Obama said: “…When it comes to expressing yourself freely, and worshipping as you choose, and having open access to information – we believe those are universal rights that are the birthright of every person on this planet…”.

I mean no disrespect, but I sincerely invite our First Lady to visit.  Sometimes she seems a bit out of touch with the common people. If she accepts my invitation, I would not take up much of her time. It could be a quick visit that would not impede too much on her demanding schedule. On just a brief walk around less than one square mile in my town, I could take her to a public tax supported library that bans certain political books. Then we could visit the public fire hall where some candidates are excluded from debates, depending on their political affiliation.

Since the First Lady is an advocate of physical exercise, we could then do a run up and down Main Street. That would have us passing through many no-free-speech zones.  Then I would like to introduce Mrs. Obama to a disabled vet. At a recent town meeting, the vet spoke in support of the First Amendment. This resulted in an assault by a public official. The assault was accidently caught on a live microphone. The video tape is available.

After just one hour in my small town, the First Lady would have a new appreciation for the First Amendment. Hopefully, she then would look into violations in towns across the U.S.  China may not be perfect, but neither is the United States.

In the  meantime, I offer an apology to the people of China. Seems that sometimes we become so overwhelmed with patriotism that we forget our manners.

Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. Read other articles by Rosemarie.