Use vast sources to stay most informed

Debate and discourse, as I’ve frequently noted in this very column, are critical to ensuring we are well educated on decisions involving our present and our future.

I personally enjoy reading or hearing well framed arguments from those who feel passionately about their beliefs — but only when those arguments are researched, fact-based and attributed to reputable sources.

I’d love to tell you this newspaper is all you need, but that’s simply not true. Rather, to be really educated, you information must come from varied sources.

Some might even describe my demand for different information sources as obsessive. One example is my insistence on having one of our side-by-side newsroom televisions constantly tuned to FOX News and the other to CNN. Talk about variety!

Last week, I read with interest an editorial in the generally conservative Wall Street Journal issuing a hearty “Bravo” to the Biden Administration.

At first glance, you might be stunned by that. However, any defender of freedoms, including freedom of the press, likely won’t be too surprised. You see, the “Bravo” came on the heels of Biden’s decision to extend temporary safe haven status for another two years to Hong Kong citizens currently in the United States.

The decision means extended protection for thousands of residents of the once autonomous city where dissent and support for democracy have been criminalized, the Wall Street Journal explained in its Jan. 27 editorial.

The U.S. first offered safety to Hong Kongers in August 2021, with some 5,600 who were already here eligible. President Biden said Beijing “has continued its assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy, undermining its remaining democratic processes and institutions, imposing limits on academic freedom, and cracking down on freedom of the press,” the Journal stated.

He said “at least 150 opposition politicians, activists, and protesters” have been arrested under the national-security law that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and more than 10,000 others have been arrested “in connection with anti-government protests.”

Huen Lam, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong Democracy Council, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, is among those at risk. “I have participated in a lot of political work here in the U.S., all of which are considered as breaking the National Security Law,” she told the Journal via email, so “if I were to go back to Hong Kong now, I would be arrested and jailed.”

It’s hard, in this nation where we are free to debate, argue, disagree and, yes, protest peacefully, that in 2023 so many parts of the world are banned from such activities.

Two days later, on Jan. 29, the Chinese-controlled China Daily news service issued its own opinion on the Biden administration’s decision to protect Hong Kong citizens. It came in a very clear counterpoint to the Journal’s words.

The China Daily noted “the U.S. has accused Beijing of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

The editorial states that these people suspected of criminal wrongdoings in China are “being provided safe haven as ‘freedom fighters’ worth protection.”

It continues, “What in the (Chinese) mainland authorities’ eyes is a means of maintaining stability and order is being distorted as a tool of suppression. … The true purpose of the U.S. memorandum is to provide ‘those who oppose China and disrupt Hong Kong and fled overseas’ with safe havens by manipulating visa policies, which ‘fully exposes the malicious U.S. intention’ to destabilize the SAR (Special Administrative Regions).”

The editorial adds, “The enactment of the national security law has played a decisive role in realizing Hong Kong’s transition from chaos to governance and continued prosperity, by effectively countering the efforts of outside elements to instigate chaos in the SAR using local proxies. Due to its implementation Hong Kong is once again stable, united and thriving.”

Words are powerful. Obviously, the descriptions offered and subsequent arguments by each of these publications are contradictory, and should serve as an important lesson to all consumers of news.

To regularly read these publication in a vacuum, indeed, would alter one’s outlook on current events and the world as a whole. The same holds true for always watching the same cable news network.

Information is the key to understanding and education. Without varied information, we risk losing sight of the big picture.


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