August 10, 2001

Dear (name omitted), I was truly saddened to read your article entitled "The Gong Show." I felt little attempt on your part to understand the Falun Gong, much less capture the terrible persecution it now endures in its homeland, China. Your lighthearted, sarcastic tone was at once both surprising and disturbing.

Yet the issue of Falun Gong is serious -- deadly serious. Literally, tens of millions of lives are at stake.

China's communist regime has worked itself into nothing short of a rage as it tries -- with all the strength of the state -- to "eradicate" the Falun Gong, including any who dare to persist. The last figure I saw put the number of murder victims in the hundreds, the number forced into slave labor in the tens of thousands. Women are raped, children taken from parents, and the elderly beaten with equal disdain. What is happening in China right now is terrifying, tragic.

What a shame to see a member of the press in the free world writing, in absolute comfort and with every freedom a democracy affords, so flippantly about a topic this serious. It's simply inhumane. Many in China have braved threat of torture and abuse to disclose to the outside world the horrors Falun Gong adherents now suffer. This is called integrity. I would hope that you might demonstrate at least a modicum of sensitivity to this.

Your piece at the same time deals readers a major setback in trying to understand the Falun Gong. It not only fails to even begin to explain what it is and why it literally transformed a nation, but even fuels popular misconceptions while confusing the issues. This has been the hope of the oppressor in China all along -- that outsiders would spend their efforts questioning the Falun Gong's philosophy, rather than the communist regime's ruthless actions.

The tens of millions in China who practice Falun Gong have no voice. Journalists in the free world are uniquely situated to give them one, or at least provide accurate, careful, and responsible representations. How unfortunate you have chosen to do something so drastically different... and for what? A good laugh?

When millions of people are ruthlessly persecuted the just thing to do is to ask how you can help. The wrong thing is to mock the victim, or, by way of ridiculing some distorted caricature of his beliefs, suggest that the victim is less worthy of our sympathy and support. Your article, should history unfold for the worse, might be remembered as no more laughable than the Nazi propaganda cartoons and writings that depicted Jews in degrading, absurd ways.

And there is nothing funny in that.


(A College Faculty Member in the U.S.)