Individuals, families and countries are things too complicated to be loved unequivocally. Let’s not belittle them. Our honest affection for them writes itself in ‘even thoughs’ and ‘despite the facts’.
Patriotism is an especially wacky notion because it demands an emotional feeling about a collection of wildly disparate shit gathered together under an umbrella abstraction. (aside – go you all blacks.) Really, our feelings about our home countries should be messier than that and there’s no reason affection for an adopted country should be any less complicated and contradictory.
The place you live, however much you like it, is the place that you have most ability and responsibility to identify problems.
This week it’s been really easy identifying some things.
Early Sunday morning (April 3), police arrested patrons and employees of a new gay bar on the Bund called Q-bar. According to Shanghaiist, they were locked in three cold rooms and kept without food or water and kept until midday Sunday. After being questioned about the bar’s go-go dancer, and in some instances allegedly being asked to sign false statements, most were released. The bar owner, DJ and dancer are still in custody.
The purported reason for the arrests was the dancer’s nudity – stripping is illegal here. But patrons say he wasn’t naked; he was wearing underwear, as hired female dancers do in Bund bars every weekend. In case you’d like a scoop of reverse-xenophobic hypocrisy to go with the homophobia, only local Chinese were arrested.
Chinese journalists, artists and activists have been locked up with increasing frequency in recent weeks. Currently Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist supposedly too famous to imprison, has been behind bars since Sunday and no-one has been able to contact him. He was put under house arrest when his Shanghai studio was demolished last year, but this is a step up from that. He’s now been in jail well in excess of the 24 hours police can hold someone without laying charges. See “The New Yorker’s” Evan Osnos for more here and here. A more background-y write-up (that funnily calls the artist by his ‘first’ name throughout) is on Slate here.
Websites Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, IMDB and others have been inaccessible in China for 1-2 years now.
Last year Google closed down its Mainland China operation in protest after human rights activists had their Gmail accounts hacked by the Chinese Government, Google Docs was blocked, and for a while there we were worried we might lose Gmail.
Subsequently, Google redirected mainland users to its Hong Kong site, and expats adjusted to life with some of our most visited sites blocked. One thing people did was get VPNs, Virtual Private Networks that allow you to access the Internet as if you were in another country.
Now, Gmail is being delibeartely and significantly slowed; fingers crossed it’s not a go-go dance tease before the site is fully blocked. Exacerbating concerns, VPNs are coming under attack. Losing Gmail would be bad. Losing fallbacks for accessing it and everything else would be worse.
I really like living in China despite but although.