We will celebrate Independence Day this weekend with plenty of red, white and blue — plus fireworks. Those seeking to disparage the American flag and all that it stands for should look around the world and compare our greatest with other countries.
More than one million immigrants arrive each year in the United States. We have more foreign-born citizens than any other country. America outranks the next closest nation by nearly four fold. People yearn for the freedoms and opportunities uniquely available in our homeland.
In contrast, the country with the fewest foreign-born citizens is China. According to a report from the United Nations, they have almost no migrants coming to their country.
The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China is being observed this week. Why aren’t more people from around the world opting to move to China? The answer is their fundamental lack of freedom and opportunity under the oppressive Communist regime.
With all of the festivities this week, I must have missed the special tribute to “Tank Man.” Remember the brave Chinese man who stood in front of the tanks leaving Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989? His image spread around the world. It was one of the most iconic images of all time. We still do not know what happened to “Tank Man” more than three decades later.
Amnesty International said this about China during 2020: “The year was marked by harsh crackdowns on human rights defenders and people perceived to be dissidents, as well as the systematic repression of ethnic minorities. The beginning of the year saw the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, which killed more than 4,600 people in China. People demanded freedom of expression and transparency after authorities reprimanded health professionals for warning about the virus. At the UN, China was strongly criticized and urged to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang.
“Stringent restrictions on freedom of expression continued unabated. Foreign journalists faced detention and expulsion, as well as systematic delays to and refusals of visa renewals. Chinese and other tech firms operating outside China blocked what the government deemed politically sensitive content, extending its censorship standards internationally. China enacted its first Civil Code, which received thousands of submissions by the public calling for legalization of same-sex marriage. Hong Kong’s National Security Law led to a clampdown on freedom of expression.”
Other groups are sounding the alarm about China. A Human Rights Watch report alleges crimes being committed by the government including “imprisonment, deprivation of liberty in violation of international law, persecution of an identifiable ethnic or religious group, enforced disappearance, torture, murder, inhumane acts intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to mental or physical health, forced labor and sexual violence.” There is increasing evidence that China has detained more than one million Uyghurs in “re-education camps” over the past few years.
At the same time, the Chinese government continues to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong with a new “national security” law. Universities have been muzzled. The Apple Daily newspaper is no longer in existence. Many of the activists are in prison or exhale while protesters are facing sentences of up to life in prison for speaking out about the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. It’s more than ironic that many of the freedom fighters in Hong Kong carried the American flag while singing our national anthem while some woke American athletes can’t stand for the flag or anthem.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping signed the “national security” law on June 30, 2020. With it, the former British colony is now firmly under the control of Mr. Xi and the Communist Party as they crack down on dissent.
Oppression against religious minorities, broad police powers for the elite, censorship of the press, taxation without representation, crackdown on freedom of expression, use of the military to stifle opposition to the government; these are the things that our Founders fought against during the Revolutionary War. These are exactly the things that caused us to declare our independence on July 4, 1776.
We live in red, white and blue privilege. Those of us who were blessed to be born in America — as well as those who were brave enough to venture here — have the privilege of living in a country founded on liberty and justice for all.
Our ancestors declared that all of us are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain undeniable rights — including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We also declared that governments are formed to protect these rights and they derive their just powers from the consent of the people.
That’s why we celebrate on the 4th of July and not on April 15th. In America, we celebrate our independence from the government, not our dependence on it. Happy Independence Day!
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @ScottWalker.