by Xinhua writer Wang Lei
BEIJING, April 30 (Xinhua) -- More than a century ago, then U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase "bully pulpit" when inviting journalists to the White House to share his thoughts on public policy.
The term has been commonly used to describe a prominent position of authority that provides an opportunity to speak out and be listened to. As the world's sole superpower, the United States has with little doubt an unparalleled power to sway or shape global public opinions for its own purposes.
In recent years, as Washington has turned ever reckless in the international arena, its mega bully pulpit seems becoming a strong-arm bully's pulpit. The most recent case is some Washington politicians' incessant rhetorical attacks that smear China amid a ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past months, it seems that some beltway politicians like U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House trade advisor Peter Navarro seldom open their mouths without defaming China. Using groundless and brazen theories, they have tried to promote ridiculous conspiracies about the origin of the virus, accused Beijing of craving a bigger global role, and tried to let China take the blame for the outbreak.
Washington has treated the World Health Organization (WHO), the backbone of the global public health response system, in a worse manner. This U.S. administration has not only bombarded the global health body with similar gratuitous verbal attacks, but also moved to defund it at a time when the WHO needs more, not less, support to do its job.
Sober minds around the world know that those politicians are launching their desperate misinformation campaign to cover up Washington's botched response since the outbreak, and to turn the pandemic into an excuse to legitimize their strategy to contain China.
Just as some U.S. citizens did ingest bleach or other cleaning agents after the White House hinted it might help kill the virus, those malicious allegations could not only kill cells of common sense in some people's brains, and even claim lives, but also fan fears, feed racist sentiments, help grow mistrust globally and undermine solidarity, which is extremely crucial to stamping out the virus at the moment.
Washington in fact has a history of abusing its power for global domination. One infamous example is former Secretary of State Colin Powell's UN presentation, in which he used fabricated "evidence" to prove to the world that Iraq was concealing weapons of mass destruction, paving the way for America's invasion of the Mideast country, and a long-running war that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Powell later called this episode a "blot" in his life.
When Theodore Roosevelt came up with the term "bully pulpit," he meant to use the influence of his power to command attention, and to inspire his people with high-minded ideals.
Today, the United States, with all of its mighty military, economy and technological prowess, can still easily command the attention of the world, yet what those Washington politicians did by smearing others in the high-stakes global fight against the pandemic shows that the country has failed to inspire and lead in a way a responsible superpower should do.
With great power comes great responsibility. The Peter Parker principle has never been so relevant at this challenging moment when the world is plagued with the deadly virus, which so far has infected more than 3 million people and claimed over 200,000 lives worldwide.
These U.S. politicians should purge themselves of those outdated mindsets that might always makes right, call off their blame game, and join the rest of the world to beat the pathogen and save as many lives as possible. Otherwise, Washington's bully pulpit will only serve to expose the abusive and high-handed nature of a U.S. hegemony. Enditem