17 February 2020
Ann Chiang wrote on Facebook that the Las Vegas tragedy is the 'price of too much freedom'. Photo: RTHK
Ann Chiang wrote on Facebook that the Las Vegas tragedy is the 'price of too much freedom'. Photo: RTHK

Idiot of the Month: And the winner is…

The hotly contested title of Hong Kong’s Idiot of the Month has been won by Ann Chiang of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong who is never shy in contending for this accolade.

This time, she has excelled herself by trying to make political capital in the wake of America’s worst ever civilian massacre that left 59 dead and 527 people injured in Las Vegas.

While others were paying respect to the dead and injured and some tried to reignite the debate on gun control, Chiang wrote on Facebook that this tragedy “is the price of too much freedom!”.

Where do you start in answering this sort of nonsense? Maybe it’s better to simply ignore it but silence is not the answer in the face of such aggressive stupidity and determination to exploit a tragedy for the sake of cheap political point scoring.

However, just for the record, let’s be clear that the world’s safest countries are exclusively numbered among nations with functioning democratic systems, while the world’s most dangerous countries exclusively consist of dictatorships and states where democracy is not functioning.

The annual survey by the Institute for Economics and Peace gives top ranking to Iceland for safety, followed by New Zealand and Portugal. All the other top spots are also occupied by democracies. This compares with the bottom of the list where Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq reside. And, yes Ms Chiang, the United States is not doing at all well in this ranking, coming in on the 114th slot.

Those of us who live outside the United States continue to be gobsmacked by the laxity of its gun ownership laws but at least there is open debate about this subject even if the outcome of this debate has consistently been disappointing.

So much for the facts, now let’s examine the mindset of Ms Chiang and others like her who scour the globe for examples of why democracy does not work.

Some of them, such as Regina Ip, choose to perpetuate well-known lies such as her favourite lie about democracy bringing Hitler to power in Germany. The facts are that the Nazis never secured a majority of votes in the Weimar Republic but they were able to stage a putsch to displace the government.

Other anti-democrats indulge in the favourite pastime of Beijing’s most rabid apologist mouthpiece, the Global Times, which goes that extra mile to find examples of where democracy is not working. Some of these idiots got rather excited over the fact that Dutch parliamentarians have failed to form a government despite it being months since the general election. What the dimwits do not know or chose not to know is that the strength of Holland’s constitutional system means that the country functions pretty well even while protracted coalition talks continue.

The problem for the apologists of authoritarianism is that they have so little to offer in support of their claims, aside from vague mumbling about “stability”. Thus they have to go through special contortions to find examples of why democratic systems are not up to the job.

When it comes to the anti-democrats nearer to home we find that much of their thinking is encased in a form of racism that clings to the view that Chinese people are somehow inherently superior and thus immune to universal forms of democratic behavior. They attribute this to a special thing called “the Chinese way”, a form of exceptionalism that turns out to be not that exceptional at all. It is merely another gloss on the “exceptionality” of all dictatorships that in the past have advanced notions such as “Soviet democracy” and “Nazi freedom”.

Thus, there is little to be found in claims of Chinese exceptionalism but there remains a special space in hell reserved for those who seek to exploit massive tragedies to advance their own warped ideology.

We are still in the early days of October but it seems unlikely that another contender will emerge to seize the title of Idiot of the Month from Chiang but who knows…

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Hong Kong-based journalist, broadcaster and book author