Letters From the March 21/28, 2022, Issue

Holding to Account

For the past 30 years, over nearly 30 books and thousands of articles, I have written about colonialism and imperialism. Some of these articles have appeared in the nation, at the invitation of your editors. A brief conversation with one of your reporters on some of the themes that I have worked on for decades produced in him conjectures and fantasies about what he thinks I believe rather than what I am on the record as having written [“What Should the Left Do About China?,” January 24/31].

In two sentences, David Klion considers my views, and in both sentences speculates rather than elucidates. “This is more or less” what I said, he claims, rather than share my actual words. “In his telling,” Klion writes, “what is happening to the Uyghurs [in China] is analogous to what countries like the United States and Australia did to their Indigenous populations, or what the British Empire did in his native India—but somewhat to my surprise, [Prashad] didn’t mean that in a bad way.” This may have been what Klion wanted me to say or believe. The only problem is that this is not at all what I believe or say.

There is a great difference between a colonial project that destroys the basis of a people’s dignity and subordinates them to an external force, and a people’s project that struggles to find a way to undermine social hierarchies and advance the possibilities for the people. I would like to see caste uprooted from Indian society; does Klion believe that such a process is analogous to the horrendous genocide against Native Americans? I hope not. That your reporter took my views about social advancement and twisted them to imply I support genocide is shocking, deeply shocking.

Vijay Prashad
executive director,
Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

Santiago, Chile

It’s painful to think that there are people on the left justifying the massive violations of human rights occurring in China. China today is doing what the US did to Indigenous and minority peoples and the same kind of “sphere of interest” bullying that it has done in Latin America. Nothing can excuse or justify it. I agree that the historical crimes of the US government make it a problematic vehicle for opposition, but really, folks, let’s show some solidarity! Boycotts and economic sanctions are entirely appropriate. But please: Fight for a global alliance and global institutions for human rights that can hold both China and the US accountable.
Michael Sapol

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