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Letters to the Editor

The quality of Tech columns sank to an all-time low with Matthew Hersch's opinion piece ["Have nothing better to do? Overthrow Red China," Oct. 16]. Hersch's article not only demonstrated his ignorance about Chinese affairs, but also managed to be insulting to Chinese as well.

Hersch's offhanded dismissal of China's one billion people as "among the most docile and ignorant people on the planet" is as disrespectful and contemptuous as that Japanese official who characterized American workers as lazy and uneducated. In fact, indicators such as literacy and school enrollment rates show China's population to be among the most well-educated of all developing nations. And although the communist government does control the media and distort the truth, the "masses of rural poor" are by no means entirely ignorant of important events -- indeed, most are acutely aware of the economic reforms that are transforming their country today.

Probably even more offensive than Hersch's condescending attitude toward the Chinese is the flippant tone of his suggestion that the United States try to overthrow the Chinese government. Just read the title: "Have nothing better to do?" What are we discussing here? We are discussing the destiny of a country, a culture, a civilization, a people. Hersch's facetious style is entirely inappropriate for the gravity of the issue.

Besides, what right does the United States have to meddle in China's domestic affairs anyway? The idea that America should step in and straighten things out is atavistic, a throwback to pre-Vietnam days when the United States was still confident in its ability to project its power to the far corners of the globe. The idea that America should step in harks back even further to the nineteenth century notion of Manifest Destiny, by which Americans idealized their imperialism as bringing civilization to savages.

Perhaps Hersch forgets that China's nationalist government, which the United States supported militarily, financially, and diplomatically, fell to the communists because it lacked the support of the "masses of rural poor." Perhaps Hersch is unaware that international protocol these days doesn't allow countries to overthrow other countries' governments on a whim.

Why was this column written in the first place? Certainly not to help the President formulate his foreign policy. I suspect that the author had nothing better to do than overthrow Red China's government in his imagination. In this fantasy world of his, everything is black and white, and overthrowing the evil communist emperor of China is a simple ten step exercise. That's fine if he has nothing better to do. But why does the entire MIT community have to suffer his ignorance and offensiveness? Just because he happens to be on The Tech's editorial board?

In the future, The Tech's managing board should select its opinion editors not by how voluminous or controversial their opinions are, but by the quality of their commentary. After all, anybody can come up with ignorant and offensive opinions.

Glen H.G. Cheng G