Today on the Senate floor, Ted Cruz blasted Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Democrats for their fear of offending China. “It is a sad statement when the United States of America cannot stand up and say ‘You who are imprisoned unjustly, we stand with you,” said Cruz during his reply to Feinstein.
The name of the street on which the Chinese embassy in Washington is located was to be changed, and quickly, ahead of the visit from the President of China. Currently called International Place, the name would become Liu Xiaobo Plaza. Xiabo is an imprisoned Chinese dissident. He is also a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Changing the name of the street would be not only a reminder of human rights abuses in China, but an act of defiance against those abuses and a gesture of solidarity to those who suffer them. Such a move is not unprecedented. In the 1980’s, the section of 16th Street NW that was home to the Soviet embassy was named Andrei Sakharov Plaza in much the same way.
And this is not as sudden as Feinstein is portraying it, either. Members of the House proposed the name change over a year ago to mark the anniversary of Tianamen Square. Senator Cruz also supported the idea in a letter to the mayor. China was not happy. Today, Senator Cruz was asking for unanimous consent on his resolution to rename the street immediately. As Conservative Review reports, at first there were no objections. But then …
Originally, Democrats had no objection to the move, until Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) stood up to object. Feinstein attempted to make it seem as if Cruz and Republicans were simply pulling a political stunt, but it is the Democrats who pulled the stunt. Feinstein and Democrats had not objected until the middle of Cruz’s floor speech.
Senator Feinstein’s objection to the resolution, which prevented the issue from going forward at all, was absurd on its face. To state that showing solidarity and standing up to tyranny is merely playing politics is the height of Washington hubris and insularity. But it is especially galling from the hashtag activism party. Perhaps the Senator from California would be more amenable if the street were to be renamed #YesAllUnjustlyImprisonedChineseDissidents?
In any case, Senator Cruz did not let her get away with it. And though she callously walked out of the room as Senator Cruz obliterated her crassly partisan objection, his words stand against her craven antics nevertheless. Below is a partial transcript from the Senator’s office. You can also view the entire floor speech to which Senator Feinstein objected from his site.
“Madam President, I would note this is a sad day for this body when standing up to the Soviet Union, Democrats and Republicans were able to come together in support of Andrei Sakharov, and it worked. It made a difference, speaking up for human rights. The senior senator from California’s correct that this was expedited, and she is correct as to why, as I just said on this floor speech, the presence of President XI in this country is precisely the reason that we should stand in unanimity in support of human rights. It is what makes it timely until a few minutes ago, we had been informed that there were no objections on both the Democratic side and the Republican side. And it saddens me, I know there are many Chinese-Americans in the state of California, there are many Chinese-Americans in the state of Texas and across the country. There are millions of Americans who care for human rights. Just this morning, we sat on the floor of the House of Representatives and listened to Pope Francis talk about putting aside petty partisan differences and coming together with a voice of compassion.
“Madam President, Dr. Liu is in a Chinese prison, and the senior senator from California is standing and objecting to recognizing this Nobel Laureate’s bravery, is standing and objecting because presumably it would embarrass his Communist captors. I, for one, think as Americans we should not be troubled by embarrassing Communist oppressors, and I would note, as the senior senator from California leaves the floor, that this is not an issue that is abstract to me. My family, like Dr. Liu, has been imprisoned by oppressive regimes. My father as a teenager was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba. He had his nose broken. He had his teeth shattered. He lay in the blood and grime of a prison cell. In Cuba, my aunt, my Tía Sonia, was a few years later imprisoned and tortured, this time by Castro – my father by Batista, my aunt by Castro – imprisoned and tortured by a communist regime. And it is a sad state when the United States of America cannot stand up and say: You who are imprisoned unjustly, we stand with you.
“If any of us listened to a word Pope Francis said this morning, that is a word we should have heard, that we should be a voice of freedom, a clarion voice of freedom across this globe. What we just saw on this Senate floor saddens me greatly. I understand that Democrats feel partisan loyalty to the White House and that this White House Secretary Clinton said at the beginning of the Administration: Human rights are off the table. America no longer stands for human rights. We will coddle up with oppressors if they make cheap calculators to sell in our stores. I think they are values that transcend the mighty dollar, and it is entirely possible to deal with foreign countries and yet maintain our principles and speak with unanimity.
“You know, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit with Natan Sharansky, the famed Soviet dissident. He and I visited in Jerusalem. He talked to me about how when he was in the Soviet Gulag, the prisoners would pass from cell to cell notes: Did you hear what president Reagan said? Evil empire; Ash heap of history; Tear down this wall. That the leadership of the United States of America – and mind you, it wasn’t partisan leadership – it was clear bipartisan leadership and America shined a light to the dark of those prison cells.
“Madam President, I pray today that Dr. Liu, in his prison cell, does not hear word that Democratic senators are unwilling to stand with him. That is heartbreaking at a level rarely seen. It’s one thing for us to disagree on partisan matters. We can have disagreements over the appropriate rate of capital gains taxes, but for standing with an oppressed Nobel Peace Laureate, for standing up to Communist oppression, that should not be a partisan divide. The objection raised by the senior senator from California is deeply disappointing, and I intend to continue to press this issue because the voice of America, the voice for freedom that Pope Francis urged us to aspire to will not be extinguished. It is who we are. It is essential to our character and to our integrity.”