Unethical Quote of the Week: The White House

“Any suggestion that this was an insult to the United States is just flat wrong.  As Lang Lang has stated before, he plays this song regularly because it is one of his favorite Chinese melodies, which is very widely known and popular in China for its melody.  Lang Lang played the song without lyrics or reference to any political themes during the entertainment portion of the State Dinner. He simply stated the song’s title and noted it was well known in China.”

White House Spokesman Tommy Vietor, arguing that Chinese pianist Lang Lang’s  playing of a Chinese  song that referred to Americans a “jackals” at a White House dinner was as innocent as the day is long.

The song was well-known in China all right—well-known as an anti-American song. I don’t advocate starting a war over this, or even making it into a diplomatic rift. Still, what Lang Lang played at the White House was an insult, a calculated one, and for the White House to pretend otherwise is either dishonest, or demonstrates a disturbing absence of sensitivity to the nation’s honor and dignity. It should have said nothing, and registered a quiet complaint to the Chinese. If it did the latter and told the American public otherwise, that is wrong too.

I am also amazed that so many media reports say that objections to the song being played in the White House, by a guest, secretly sending a message of contempt for the U.S. that Chinese citizens instantly recognized, are coming only from “conservatives.” If only conservatives are offended by this obvious breach of common etiquette and demonstration of disrespect, then non-conservatives have serious cognitive problems. I don’t believe it, but the White House statement isn’t encouraging.

4 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Week: The White House

  1. If *I* were the President,
    (and believe me, all of you should RUE THE DAY!!!)
    I think I’d take a “sticks and stones” approach to this, which may be what the White House is doing.

    I’ve been insulted plenty of times in my life and I’ve learned that I rather prefer it to pleasantries because I learn far more about the insulter in the process. I know who you are and I know where I stand with you.

    …and watch out, for I may decide to apply the Golden Rule…. 😉


  2. Jack,
    Or perhaps conservatives are the only ones willing to latch onto it because it’s embarrassing for Obama and makes him look silly? I’d venture to say it isn’t a big deal because similar things happen all the time in diplomatic relations. Forcing nations with drastically different cultural identities to interact is bound to cause friction and, occasionally, problems. I don’t know enough about the planning of the event or Lang Lang’s history as a musician to know whether it was an intended insult, or accidental .. but either way it doesn’t really matter in the long run.

    The fact that the China, in general, dislikes America is nothing new and I find it much more refreshing to be insulted on home soil, than calling them out from across the Pacific. Assuming that was, after all, the point ..


    • It’s bad diplomacy, and terrible precedent for the US, which lost a lot of men in Korea, to ignore outright disrespect to the President, the office and the nation, as well as the Korean War casualties. It makes Obama look foolish and weak indeed. If it doesn’t bother some liberals to see that, they have bigger problems than I thought.

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