Michelle's Message to China Meant for America's Ears

M. Catharine Evans
The First Lady’s trip to China was advertised as a non-political, people-to-people cultural exchange, so why would Michelle yap on about freedom of expression and the Internet during a speech at Peking University? She has to know it’s a hot topic for the regime.

China consumes a staggering amount of man-hours and money just to monitor, block and filter communications of half a billion users. Then, along comes Mrs. Obama to give a lesson on freedom to a country that is third in the world for throwing journalists in jail, behind Turkey and Iran, with 32 journalists in prison.

Soon after her March 22 comments, ABC, NBC, NYT and HuffPo ran headlines like “Michelle Obama Speaks Out For Free Speech.” The specific remarks were censored by China’s news agency, but circulated in social media. America’s mainstream media praised the First Lady for speaking out, but a close reading of Mrs. Obama’s words sounds more like a warning for us here at home.

“It’s so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media, because that’s how we discover the truth,” she said. “That’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities and our country and our world.”

Believe me, I know how this can be a messy and frustrating process. My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens. 

Has Michelle put “our media and our citizens” on notice that the Obama administration can keep track of any dissenters via the Internet and blogs “to learn what’s really happening?” This doublespeak is characteristic of the First Couple.

When Michelle says she is frustrated with the “messy” pushback from media in the U.S., she’s talking about Fox News and conservative bloggers. The liberal press certainly doesn't question or criticize. The Obamas have been whining about putting up with those that disagree with them since 2007 because we are the last stumbling block to a total transformation of the country.

After reading between the lines of Michelle's speech, it's  no wonder her  husband told his aides in 2011 it would be so much easier being the President of China where "No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square,” as one official put it.  

The First Lady’s trip to China was advertised as a non-political, people-to-people cultural exchange, so why would Michelle yap on about freedom of expression and the Internet during a speech at Peking University? She has to know it’s a hot topic for the regime.

China consumes a staggering amount of man-hours and money just to monitor, block and filter communications of half a billion users. Then, along comes Mrs. Obama to give a lesson on freedom to a country that is third in the world for throwing journalists in jail, behind Turkey and Iran, with 32 journalists in prison.

Soon after her March 22 comments, ABC, NBC, NYT and HuffPo ran headlines like “Michelle Obama Speaks Out For Free Speech.” The specific remarks were censored by China’s news agency, but circulated in social media. America’s mainstream media praised the First Lady for speaking out, but a close reading of Mrs. Obama’s words sounds more like a warning for us here at home.

“It’s so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media, because that’s how we discover the truth,” she said. “That’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities and our country and our world.”

Believe me, I know how this can be a messy and frustrating process. My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens. 

Has Michelle put “our media and our citizens” on notice that the Obama administration can keep track of any dissenters via the Internet and blogs “to learn what’s really happening?” This doublespeak is characteristic of the First Couple.

When Michelle says she is frustrated with the “messy” pushback from media in the U.S., she’s talking about Fox News and conservative bloggers. The liberal press certainly doesn't question or criticize. The Obamas have been whining about putting up with those that disagree with them since 2007 because we are the last stumbling block to a total transformation of the country.

After reading between the lines of Michelle's speech, it's  no wonder her  husband told his aides in 2011 it would be so much easier being the President of China where "No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square,” as one official put it.