'Talk Is Always Better Than Shooting,' He Said
I was standing in line at the Chinese takeout place a few blocks from my house. A guy I guessed to be in his early sixties, dressed in brown corduroy trousers, burgundy shirt and tweed jacket, entered the building and took a place next to me. He looked like an academic to me.
“This place has the best Chinese food around,” he said.
“Yes, it does,” I replied. “And the prices are good, too. I come here often for takeout.”
“So do I,” he said. “I get food here about every ten days or so. It sure beats the sub shop on Union. The price of their small sub has gone up from five dollars to seven dollars. You get more for your money here. I just can’t believe how much prices are going up.”
“Well,” I said, “I guess considering the economy, we can expect inflation.”
He raised an eyebrow that seemed an exclamation point of condescension. But I scolded myself for attributing motives.
“Actually, I think we are in for a round of deflation. I know that sounds crazy,” he said.
Yes, I thought, it did sound crazy, but I decided I was here to pick up food, not to start a political debate.
So I decided to acknowledge there are two sides of the issue: “Deflation like that of the Great Depression, when bread was a nickel a loaf -- if I remember correctly from my reading -- is very hard on a lot of people. So is inflation. It’s too bad, but depending on who’s doing the writing, it looks like we’re in for either Great Depression style deflation or Weimar Republic style hyperinflation.”
I gleaned from his body language and expression he was not pleased with my answer. He switched to another subject.
“Actually,” he said, “what we have still going on are a lot of unsettled issues from World War I. It’s a mess today.”
I smiled. I was committed to being nice.
“Yes, the world is a mess. It has always been a mess. Welcome to the world.”
He was looking uncomfortable.
“Yes, the world’s a mess, but we have a means to deal with the mess. I just don’t get why people don’t avail themselves of the institution put into place nearly one hundred years ago. Why don’t they settle their issues by talking them through within the UN?”
I looked at him. It was on the tip of my tongue to say, “Well, if I might point out a minor technicality, the League of Nations came before the UN, which has not been in existence for one hundred years.”
But I didn’t say it. I was there to pick up Chinese food, I said to myself, not give a lecture on the origins or failures of the UN.
“Your order is ready,” said the Chinese young woman behind the counter. She, along with her fellow workers, had been listening intently to every word of the conversation. “That will be seven dollars and fifty cents. You want any sauce?”
“Two hot sauces,” he replied, handing her the money and reaching for the brown paper bag holding the food. He leaned forward slightly to hand the woman the money. He looked up sidewise at my face.
“Talking is always better than shooting,” he said.
A little voice in my head said, “He’s hopeless. Don’t even bother to go there.”
“Enjoy your food,” I said.
But as I picked up my own order, my mind was racing.
“Talking is always better than shooting!!”
Are you kidding?
Obviously you, dear professor or whoever you are, don’t know that some of these hard working cooks and servers are probably the grandchildren of Chinese who no doubt wished shooting rather than talking had been employed during the rape of Nanking. Doubtless their ancestors profoundly wished that bullets had been used to execute the butchers of Unit 731. What would dialogue about experimentation on humans have accomplished?
Sometimes evil requires a bullet to the brain.
What about what is going on in China today? Could the people running the restaurant be the relatives of prisoners trapped in the Chinese laogai (gulag) of today? Would those prisoners welcome bullets that rescued more than endless talk that left them to their horrible fate? Do any of the patient workers who are making your lunch, dear professor, long for the daring rescue of relatives they left behind?
Professor, have you ever read any of the research done by the Laogai Research Foundation, which in one of its recent pieces states:
“…the same sorts of dissidents who in Mao Zedong’s days were charged with “counter-revolutionary” or “‘anti-socialist” crimes are today charged with “inciting subversion of state power” or “revealing state secrets.” The so-called national security laws are so broad and vague that the Party can effectively use them against anyone whom it believes presents a challenge to its rule or even a threat to its image. As a result, the laogai has been filled not only with common criminals, but also with journalists (China is the largest jailer of journalists in the world), authors, cyber-dissidents, China Democracy Party members, public interest activists, human rights lawyers, underground “house church” leaders, Falun Gong practitioners, and discontented members of China’s oppressed ethnic minorities, especially Uyghurs and Tibetans.”
Professor, do you know that as hard as these Chinese immigrants have to work in order to support themselves, they’d rather be here than in the gulag working as slave laborers? The Laogai Research Foundation again:
“Today, while the intense political study sessions common during Maoist times are no longer employed, many prisoners are still compelled to confess their crimes, recant their religious beliefs and political opinions, and, possibly, attend special reeducation classes. The entire process may entail peer pressure, humiliation, and physical abuse by fellow inmates as well as torture at the hands of prison staff. Collective forced labor continues to be regarded as the primary means by which to transform the thinking of prisoners.
The Chinese Communist Party views forced labor not only as a vital reformative tool but also as an important source of economic growth, functioning to support the national economy. Soon after its creation, Mao Zedong came to see the prisoners held within the laogai as a valuable untapped resource -- free labor.”
Professor, I suspect -- don’t know for sure, but am inclined toward less than positive profiling due to my experience with the left -- that in your emphasis on talk rather than bullets to secure the rights of the oppressed, you actually support the trends toward suppression of free speech, academic freedom and religious freedom right here in the United States of America.
I suspect you would be among those who insist on “dialogue,” in sitting down at the bargaining table with an Iran committed to the annihilation of Israel; with an ISIS committed to the elimination of Christians and just about everyone else; with a North Korea committed to apocalypse now for South Korea and Japan and maybe the whole world.
I also suspect the only talk you tolerate is talk from your liberal associates and allies. I doubt I or any other person who disagreed with you about talk as the solution to the mess the world is in would be allowed to contribute to any dialogue in which you and your colleagues participate.
That’s because I, along with millions of other freedom loving people, don’t speak your language.
As far as I’m concerned, sometimes the language of bullets is required to end oppression wherever and whenever it exists. Sometimes bullets are the way to establish righteousness and peace.
Life and freedom are most often dearly bought.
Talk is cheap.
Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and many other online publications. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org