Question RT More!

The RT headline speaks volumes: “China’s Forced Rape and Slave Labor Being Excused.” The right-wing RT Eat the Press host Steve Malzberg presents the ludicrous-on-its-face charge that China has some preponderant influence over American corporations. Why ludicrous? Because ever since Donald Trump lost the vote and won the presidency in that bastion of democracy, the United States, the media wonks and White House apparatchiks have stepped up an unrelenting demonization of China. Thus China is blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic, blamed for trade frictions, accused of intellectual property theft (this while Trump tries to purloin Chinese social media phenom TikTok), criticized for undermining democracy in Hong Kong, alleged to engage in aggressive posturing in the South China Sea, and China is asserted to pose a national security risk because of Chinese apps and cutting-edge technology, such as 5G. Simultaneously, the American Establishment continues to stoke interethnic conflict in China’s Xinjiang province, an area where the US and its CIA have long sought to undermine Chinese sovereignty.1

All of this is being pushed by American corporate media, but it is now joined by RT via Malzberg and his guest Justin Danhof, the general counsel for the “conservative” National Center for Public Policy Research. The NCPPR is “dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems.” In other words, it is a right-wing think tank. It is aligned with:

  • the corporate lobbyist group, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC);
  • a project that bombarded senior citizens with “fright mail”;
  • the ill-reputed right-wing lobbyist Jack Abramoff;
  • anti-environmental protection groups and the climate-change skeptics;
  • GroupSnoop, a site that attacks progressivist groups such as the Center for American Progress, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Center for Media & Democracy;
  • several right-wing foundations that fund NCPPR.

Danhof is also a a policy advisor for the right-wing Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is criticized for its climate-change skepticism. It is also loosely affiliated with the deceptively named National Endowment for Democracy — in actuality, a CIA front for instigating coups.

Malzberg and Danhof — and RT through providing the platform — castigate Disney, one of the Big 5 media oligopolies in the US, for seeking profit in wicked China. Danhof criticized the Disney movie Mulan because it was shot in “ZIN-JING.”2 Why is that a problem?

Danhof, an advocate for capitalism, claims,

That is where the Chinese Communist Party has forced labour camps of a minority Muslim population known as the Uyghur, okay? So Disney moralizes and proselytizes us in the United States of America over its quote systematic racism and Black Lives Matter while they are burning our cities down. But they turn a blind eye to actual slave labor … and there is forced rape here…

Sheesh! What is this guy talking about? Proselytizing? More than 39,000 mosques are in China, with 25,000 mosques in Xinjiang. And “forced rape”? Statutory rape aside, whoever heard of consensual rape?

For some reason these two conservatives turned the conversation to protests in the US. It seems they had three targets to try and topple in the interview: China, corporations that do business with China, and BLM.

As for burning the cities down? Who and why? That the state and its police use agents provocateurs is so well known that one should always be skeptical of casting blame without evidence. Besides, what caused the protests to mushroom? If police were not murdering Black people3 and if there were a fair distribution of the wealth in the country, the call of the streets would not have beckoned with such widespread appeal to the marginalized, disenfranchised, immiserated, and social-justice advocates among the citizenry. I suggest that the government in the US and many western nations could learn a thing or two from China in eliminating poverty, thereby quelling simmering unrest.

Malzberg and Danhof seem incapable of drawing the palpable causal link between the police murders and protests. If there were jobs with decent wages for all and were the police peaceably and without prejudice upholding the law, then there would be no fillip for mass protests. The no-brainer solution to the protests, burning, window-smashing, destruction, and looting (committed by whoever: state actors, protestors, or criminal elements) is stop police killings of people and provide a decent living for the people of the nation, as is required by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the US is a signatory.4 To focus only on the aftermath in a system that promotes capitalist enrichment and turns a blind eye to egregious inequality and mass impoverishment instead of focusing on the capitalist government mismanagement of the state of the nation is backwards and obtuse.

And horrors! Danhof informs us that the protestors support Marxism in America. This is simple-mindedness to the extreme. To merely toss out a political-economic label is a non sequitur. It has no logical basis. If it did have a logic, then people of a different politico-economic leaning, for example socialists, could merely state — “that’s capitalism” — to present their disagreement. This is hardly compelling argumentation from whichever angle. Nonetheless, an open-minded, skeptical comparison of the economies and the economic trajectories between Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and US Capitalism should prove quite revealing — for those who are not of the capitalist or petite bourgeoisie classes in the US.

Danhof, with Malzberg chuckling in agreement, talks of human rights abuses right in front of people’s eyes. The video showed no such human rights abuses. A genocide of Uyghurs? As CGTN informs, “… the Uygur people, had always enjoyed preferential population policies. In the four decades between 1978 and 2018, the Uygur population in Xinjiang doubled, from 5.6 million to 11.7 million.” Uyghurs are found throughout China, and I have never noticed any animosity to them. In particular, many are prominent for owning and operating restaurants and food stands that are quite popular.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in a release stated, “Issues in Xinjiang are nothing about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but combating violence, terrorism and separatism.”

How the US combats terrorism versus China’s handling of terrorism

What is not disputed is that Xinjiang has suffered terrorism. This is also true of the US (which also wreaks most of the terrorism elsewhere in the world). How China responds to terrorism is starkly at odds with how the US responds. In the below two videos, two westerners living in China (unlike Danhof and Malzberg) discuss the responses to terrorism.

The right-wing think-tank functionary Danhof claims that the Chinese Communist Party is “one of the greatest propaganda machines in history of mankind.” Presumably that includes womankind as well.

Combating disinformation on Uyghurs in Xinjiang

Danhof calls this a “hypocrisy issue.” Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing the opposite. Americans criticizing others while ignoring the plank in their eyes is quite condemnatory. Danhof falsely claims, again without evidence, a genocide of Muslims in Xinjiang; yet, according to professor Gideon Polya, the Zionist-backed US genocide of Muslims has resulted in 32 million avoidable deaths in 20 countries since the American 9-11.5 The heinous crimes of the American state against Muslims are too numerous for this article to extensively list. To briefly state some of the more recent outstanding human rights abuses, there is the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse in Iraq, the Bagram prisoner torture and abuse in Afghanistan, the Guantanamo Gulag prisoner torture and abuse, extraordinary rendition, the occupation of Syrian territory and theft of its oil, supporting the Saudi genocide and starvation of Yemenis, participation in the violent overthrow of the Libyan government giving rise to slavery and impoverishment in what heretofore was the richest country in Africa, and complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the slow-motion genocide against Palestinians. Thus, Danhof ignores his own backyard and appeals to hypocrisy when he criticizes Chinese human rights abuses, without an iota of evidence, while ignoring the indisputable litany of US human rights abuses, including those in the US homeland, which Danhof belittles.

The need to demand that RT adhere to its stated principles

Given the paucity of rigorous reporting in news media, especially among state and corporate media, RT has for the most part been a necessary and much appreciated breath of fresh air. For this media consumer, RT, CGTN, and Press TV (of those media that I am most aware) are among the most credible of news media.6

RT has a slogan it promotes: “question more.” It is excellent advice, and RT on-air personalities should abide by it. However, episodes like this one hosted by Malzberg make “question more” seem like an empty slogan. There was no questioning by the media critic Malzberg. There was no asking for evidence. It was an example of what does not pass the most basic journalistic muster. By all means report about concentration camps, rapes, genocides, and other crimes in China, the US, Canada, wherever. Such outrages against humanity must be reported. Malzberg, contrariwise, takes exception to revealing the monstrous crimes of the US. Malzberg again, as is his wont, without evidence accuses Assange of illegal hacking and opines: “Assange should be locked up for what he did.” Assange is the victim of kangaroo court proceedings in the Britain for exposing, among other war crimes, an incident where US helicopters gunned down journalists and civilians walking on a street in Iraq. A conscience-bound journalist would applaud the exposure of crimes against his fellow journalists, but not Malzberg.

To iterate, these horrific crimes must be reported and brought to public awareness. However, scrupulous viewers will, and must, demand evidence for the commission of crimes. The famous scientist Carl Sagan insisted: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Although this Malzberg-hosted episode accused China of propaganda in the extreme, in actuality, this RT episode was not only propagandic by definition but worse, it was rife with disinformation. Through presenting unquestioning propaganda on its channels RT insults its viewers and undermines its integrity.

As RT anchor Rick Sanchez is fond of saying: “It is time to do news again.” That means questioning more and demanding evidence of itself, its presenters, and guests.

  1. Read Thomas Laird, Into Tibet: The CIA’s First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa (2003). []
  2. What kind of China expert is Danhof anyway? He cannot even pronounce the name of China’s largest province correctly. []
  3. Whites and other ethnicities are murdered by police as well, but Blacks are killed disproportionately relative to Whites. []
  4. Article 25(1) of the UDHR reads, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family…” []
  5. Gideon Polya, US-Imposed Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide (Korsgaard Publishing, 2020): xxvii. []
  6. The Real News has had quite a drop off since the departure of many on-air personalities and Democracy Now! can be highly problematic; e.g., falling for the contrived Russiagate fiasco and its pro-imperialist orientation toward the attack on Syria. []
Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: kimohp@gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.