For anti-war activists, the preparations for a major war have an aspect that is literally nightmarish. In this bad dream, one watches as if physically or morally paralyzed while a menacing situation approaches step by step until it is too late to avert a foreseeable disaster.
This is exactly how one feels watching the United States government prepare for a military confrontation with China. The technical aspects of this preparation remain largely under wraps, except for demonstrative military exercises and occasional impolitic statements like Air Force General Mike Minihan’s remark last January, “My gut tells me that we will fight in 2025.” But the civilian aspects of this mobilization are increasingly evident and alarming.
A key indicator that civilian populations are being prepared for war is the breaking of relations with the alleged enemy. Across the United States, universities have been forced to close their Confucius Institutes, Chinese-government supported institutions that teach Chinese language and culture, because of unfounded charges that they were stealing technological and military secrets. Academic and scientific collaboration between Chinese and American scholars has sharply declined. Similarly, restrictions on trade between Chinese and American have steadily intensified, culminating in the recent executive order by President Joe Biden blocking U.S. investments in hi-tech Chinese companies.
A second sign of war fever, even more alarming for ordinary citizens, involves concerted efforts by government and news media hawks to defame the character and criminalize the behavior of activists who oppose the continued deterioration of relations with the same alleged enemy.
The anti-China crowd’s latest target is Code Pink, one of North America’s most active peace organizations, well known for its vigorous and colorful opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the NATO attack on Libya, unconditional US support for Israel, and the U.S. refusal to negotiate legitimate Russian security concerns prior to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Code Pink is in the vanguard of groups publicizing and criticizing the push toward military confrontation with China.
On August 5, 2023 the New York Times published an article entitled “Global Web of Chinese Propaganda Leads to a U.S. Tech Mogul” – a purported expose of “a charismatic American millionaire, Neville Roy Singham, who is known as a socialist benefactor of far-left causes.” The article points out that Singham (the son of the late Archie Singham, a well-known leftist professor and writer) holds favorable views of the current Chinese government and has frequently advocated policies favored by that government. It also reports that he is married to Jodie Evans, a co-founder of Code Pink, who strongly opposes the U.S. mobilization for war against China and has also defended certain Chinese policies.
The Times article is strangely worded, no doubt to avoid possible defamation lawsuits, and contains vast evidentiary gaps, but its bottom-line message is that Singham and Evans (and, by implication, Code Pink) are Chinese agents, and that they should be compelled to register as such in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The sole basis for this conclusion is the assertion that these activists agree with various Chinese policies. Anyone who has seen Christopher Nolan’s recent film, Oppenheimer, should recognize this for the McCarthyite smear that it is. Apparently, Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio has not seen the film, or else he has not understood it. Immediately upon publication of the Times article, he called for an investigation of the article’s targets and asserted that they should be forced to register as foreign agents.
Whatever Rubio may think, the “evidence” adduced by the Times reporters to support their allegation is not only thin; it is virtually nonexistent.
They note, first, that Roy Singham shares office space with a company “whose goal is to educate foreigners about ‘the miracles that China has created on the world stage.’” Horrors! Not only is this company being mysteriously unnamed, the Times apparently does not consider lifting a billion and a half people out of poverty and assisting other nations to do the same an achievement worth publicizing.
Second, they report that Jodie Evans, who has criticized Chinese patriarchal attitudes, refused to condemn Beijing’s policies toward the Uyghurs. That’s their evidence of foreign agency! Evans must be a Chinese tool because she did not join the chorus chanting “genocide” to describe Beijing’s repressive response to Uyghur separatism. Whatever one thinks about this issue, the charge that Singham, Evans, and Code Pink are Chinese agents is based on nothing more than their positive views of some Chinese policies. In fact, their real “sin” has been to oppose U.S. imperialism, U.S. refusal to negotiate peace in Ukraine, and U.S. preparations for war with China.
The parallels with the Oppenheimer case are obvious. The great physicist was branded a Soviet agent and deprived of his security clearance because he opposed U.S. nuclear policies, advocated racial and social justice at home, and worked for international peace with left-wing groups. The differences are interesting as well. Code Pink is not privy to state secrets and has no security clearance to lose. The main villain of the New York Times piece, Roy Singham, is a wealthy high-tech entrepreneur who is accused of “buying” support for Chinese policies in much the same way that George Soros has been said to use his fortune to support liberal activism or the Koch Brothers to bankroll conservative libertarian programs.
Money clearly plays a role in politics. The master of “buying support” for political favorites, quantitatively in a league by itself, has long been the U.S. government with its scores of federal agencies and NGO satellites. Compared with that sort of influence, Roy Singham is the smallest of small potatoes. But the New York Times’ allegations against Singham and Jodie Evans do not even rise to the level of an anti-Soros or Koch Brothers expose. In fact, they are nothing more than the feeblest sort of redbaiting.
Roy Singham’s response to the Times reporters’ charges was short and to the point:
“I categorically deny and repudiate any suggestion that I am a member of, work for, take orders from, or follow instructions of any political party or government or their representatives. I am solely guided by my beliefs, which are my long-held personal views.”
Jodie Evans remarks were equally terse.
“I deny your suggestion that I follow the direction of any political party, my husband or any other government or their representatives. I have always followed my values.”
Let us give these accused fighters for peace the last word.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS)