Editorial: Who decides who's 'good enough'?

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

In a case of "Milli Vanilli comes to Beijing," it has been revealed that the little girl in pigtails and red dress who sang "Ode to the Motherland" at the opening ceremony of the Olympics - 9-year-old Lin Miaoke - was actually lip-synching.

Seems the talented 7-year-old who actually did the singing, Yang Peiyi, was replaced at the last minute by a member of the Chinese Politboro who found her face "not suitable" for prime time. "The national interest requires that the girl should ... look good on screen" and be "flawless in image," said the ceremony's music director. Peiyi was too chubby, apparently, with too many Tooth Fairy visits. Miaoke, meanwhile, has become a national celebrity, dubbed the "smiling angel."

Many here in the West have taken great offense to this revelation, trumpeting it as further proof that those Communist meanies run a morally bankrupt, dishonest, vicious system - see, they don't even love their own children unconditionally. Our way, on the other hand, is superior in every way. Why, we'd never do that to a child.

The easy thing to do here would be to jump on that bandwagon, but we can't work up the lather that many have. Oh, this was undeniably mean-spirited and control-freakish; we're confident the world would have found Peiyi every bit as darling as Miaoke. It's just that many of us need a long, hard look in the mirror.

Indeed, not a day goes by here in America, in Illinois, in Peoria that some child isn't informed by some adult who matters to him or her that he or she isn't pretty enough, or thin enough, or smart enough, or athletic enough, or just plain good enough to represent the town or school or team or cheerleading squad or musical cast or whatever. Some make the cut, others don't - sometimes for legitimate reasons, sometimes not. Many a popular reality TV show is based on the premise of someone seeing how nasty they can be telling others they don't measure up. Welcome to the real world, kids.

We hope Yang Peiyi accomplishes great things with that beautiful voice of hers - no one achieves anything significant without running into naysayers along the way, and self-esteem zealots can overdo it - and that her story penetrates the conscience of many an adult. Don't trash the Chinese; just be nice to somebody who looks up to you today.

Peoria Journal Star