Since 1841, war has shifted the control of Hong Kong from China, to Britain, to Japan, and back to Britain. Jurisdiction was peacefully returned to China in 1997. This hand-over included a promise from Beijing to leave Hong Kong with its British-constructed governance for 50 years. Now nearing the mid-way mark, the politicians in Beijing are doing what centralized governments do best — which is try to convince the people to give the central government more power “for their own good.”

In September, the Communist Party of China introduced an extradition bill that would make Hong Kong citizens subject to the court system of China. The bill was so unpopular that one in four residents marched against it. They marched with U.S. flags while singing our National Anthem.

After five months of protests, the bill was withdrawn. The protesters continue to demand other reforms and to march against the treatment they receive from the Hong Kong police.

Have Americans nothing to protest? We certainly do, but much effort is expended on diffusing the perception of our grievances.

The best recent example of this shell-game was played with post 9-11 surveillance. Through a massive media effort, Americans were led to believe that the entirety of the spying problem was related to “telephone metadata.” After the public was fooled into believing that metadata constituted the entire issue, the policy magicians strategically placed some headlines pretending to have fixed the metadata concern. The trick lulled enough people into thinking the issue was solved that one has a hard time organizing protests around the still-encroaching surveillance state.

Americans could protest the NSA data center in Utah. The complex is so large that security experts such as former high ranking intelligence official William Binney disclose it is too large to process all of the metadata on earth. Experts conclude the government must be collecting data they claim they are not collecting. Part of the disclosure provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden noted 90 percent of the data collected by the NSA is intimate information on unapproved domestic targets. The NSA is aware the targets are unapproved, yet they refuse to delete their data.

Americans could protest the U.S. government charging whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden under the espionage act. By charging under this provision intended for acts of espionage, the leak is assumed to have no redeeming importance. Those accused are not permitted to bring up any motive for the leak, even if the leak exposed criminal acts.

Americans could protest the way whistleblowers are being treated in prison. Whistleblower Bradley Manning was tortured by sleep deprivation in solitary confinement for a year, to the point of attempting suicide, twice.

Americans could protest how hospitals collect DNA from newborns without permission.

Americans could protest civil asset forfeiture. This is where the police seize assets without having convicted anyone of a crime. The process is so rampant that since 2014 such seizures have been running even with, and occasionally exceeding, the value of goods stolen in burglaries.

Americans could protest indefinite detention. The maximum time which can pass before someone who is being detained is charged with a crime in the vast majority of the free world is 28 days. The U.S. has no limit.

Americans could protest that the federal government has borrowed $179,688 in the name of every household in America. That amount does not include a dime of the unfunded mandates such as Social Security, Medicare, or pensions for the employees of the federal government.

Americans could protest the quantity of U.S. dollars was tripled in order to bail out the bad bets of rich bankers. Historically such dilution eventually results in punishing price inflation.

Americans could protest “parallel construction.” Parallel construction is where federal investigators hide the fact that evidence was collected by unconstitutional methods. Their training includes instruction on how to purger themselves when the case goes to trial by lying about how the evidence was obtained.

Americans could protest how media outlets have been caught resetting story popularity counters in order to kill the momentum of stories, such as articles exposing the list above, which powerful interests would rather have suppressed.

While the citizens of Hong Kong protest under the American flag, U.S. remain silent under a white flag of distraction.

We should strive to be the America which Hong Kong thinks we are.

John Burd lives in Coal Township.

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