WHAT DO YOU do if
you're scared - with good reason - to buy the kids Christmas toys made in China? There is help, which I'll get to in a minute.
I wrote last week that I don't trust, don't want and won't buy anything made in China. Does that mean I hate Chinese people?
Actually, I pity the Chinese for their lack of freedom - political, artistic, speech, travel, worship - and the hopeless misery of hundreds of millions of powerless peasants whose lives
haven't improved since the Ming Dynasty.
I don't trust, don't want and won't buy anything from China because of the endless recalls of Made-in-China products. They have been proven unsafe. My feelings are based on cause, not on color of their skin.
In a spectacularly misguided letter published last week, Anna Perng, vice president of the Organization of Chinese Americans - Greater Philadelphia, painted me as a racist peddling "yellow peril." (She must have missed my endorsement of David Oh, a Korean-American, for City Council.)
Perng's race-baiting letter did not refute a single fact in my column, which didn't even mention China's notorious religious persecution of Christians and its despicable treatment of animals, including dogs, whose fur
has been used as trim. China gets bad marks from groups as diverse as Human Rights Watch and the Humane Society of the U.S.
In addition to not sharing our ideals of democracy, the Communist government doesn't share our concerns about safety, sanitation and working conditions.
But with 80 percent of American toys made in China, what can a parent do?
You can let Sydney Hay help you.
A 52-year-old Flagstaff, Ariz., grandmother, Hay was shopping at Toys "R" Us for gifts for her grandson, Caleb, two years ago. Every item on his wish list, except one, was made in China.
The one not made in China? Scotch tape.
She discussed this with a few friends, who were alarmed that America was exporting its future to China, which may be a trading partner but is not a friend.
When the recalls starting pouring in this year, Hay and friends swung into action. Just after Halloween, they launched www.ChinaFreeChristmas.org, a Web site that explains the damage done by China to human rights there and to the U.S. economy here.
American consumers "have the power to make a difference," Hay told me, "to force China to clean up its act, to make serious human-rights reforms."
On the ChinaFreeChristmas page, you can click on "American Alternatives" for retailers and manufacturers that don't import from China. A list of safe toys and household products is at www.chinafreechristmas.info.
A nation that manufactures nothing but excuses is a pauper. American corporations, with the connivance of bargain-happy consumers, have sold our souls so far down the river (the Yangtze) it's hard to find some products not made in China.
You have to search; they may cost more.
I was shopping Target for ordinary steak knives. A pegboard display had about a dozen different sets, all from China, for around $4.99 each. In the upper corner, one set cost $9.99 - from Japan. I paid $5 more, but supported a democracy, dependable ally and friend.
It's our choice. We may have to do without, or spend more to buy from a friendly nation.
Or we can buy from China, which wants to own us - like its powerless peasants.
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