Faced with charges that she was making a relatively content-free trip to China and stiffing the press while she’s there, First Lady Michelle Obama appears to have made some adjustments, allowing normal press coverage and extolling free speech.
We’ve pointed out all the deficiencies of the trip here. So let’s give credit where credit is due.
Michelle, who began her trip Thursday, has been followed around by a regular press pool of reporters since Friday. And today during remarks at Peking University, she touted free speech in a country where speech is curbed:
And that’s why it’s so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media, because that’s how we discover the truth. That’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities and our country and our world. And that’s how we decide which values and ideas we think are best –- by questioning and debating them vigorously, by listening to all sides of an argument, and by judging for ourselves.
And believe me, I know how this can be a messy and frustrating process. My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens. And it’s not always easy, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Because time and again, we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices of and opinions of all their citizens can be heard.
And as my husband has said, we respect the uniqueness of other cultures and societies, but when it comes to expressing yourself freely and worshipping as you choose and having open access to information, we believe those universal rights — they are universal rights that are the birthright of every person on this planet. We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to fulfill their highest potential as I was able to do in the United States.
So kudos, Mrs. Obama. Now meet with some Tibetan dissidents while you’re at the Tibetan restaurant in Chengdu next week and I’ll feel better about paying for this trip.