(Editor’s note — I told Ronnie ahead of time that he would get nowhere with this. I know from experience that CustomInk might seem good from far but it’s very far from good. I also suspected that they were stuffed to the gills with the kind of pogues who pride themselves on detecting badthink. He chose to go ahead with his idea anyway… —JB)
My rabbi for many years, R’ Avraham Jacobowitz, taught me that the most basic of commandments is to show gratitude, hakarat hatov in Hebrew, recognizing the good. Xi JinPing and the Chinese Communist Party are now engaged in a worldwide public relations campaign to make sure everyone thinks that their country has selflessly helped the world contain and turn back the Covid-19 pandemic. Color me skeptical about the CCP’s altruism.
However, in light of my rabbi’s teaching and the CCP’s craven need for gratitude, about a week ago I decided to see if I could financially exploit the current crisis by selling t-shirts that said, in English and Chinese, “Thanks, China!”, red shirts with yellow ink, just like the Chinese flag.
I’ve been 3D printing face shields for first responders (my nephew is a NYC EMT) and N95 equivalent masks for friends, relatives, and neighbors. I haven’t been charging for them and I was hoping the t-shirts would help defray the costs – antimicrobial printing filament is about 5X the price of regular stuff.
I do machine embroidery but don’t have screenprinting or a direct-to-garment printer, so I set up an account at Custom Ink!, an apparel printer and fulfillment house. Why them? It was the easiest and fastest way to get it set up. Maybe I should have tried Cafe Press instead.
Anyhow, since I know that some crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter in particular, sometimes use political litmus tests to qualify campaigns, I was exceedingly careful not to say anything critical of the *Middle Kingdom at all. I said that the campaign was set up to thank Xi JinPing and the CCP “for all that they have done in regards” to the Covid-19 pandemic. The whole thing, including setting up the graphics in GIMP, took about a half hour.
I posted links to the campaign in a few comment streams, and possibly on my Facebook page, but haven’t sold any yet. No biggie, it’s not as if I need to sell them to eat, and I have about a dozen “Forever” rolls of Charmin. I’m pretty well set for the lockdown.
Today I received the following email from Custom Ink:
Thank you so much for setting up your fundraiser with Custom Ink!
My name is Enigma, and I’m one of the Inkers taking care of your order as it moves along. I want to touch base regarding your design and page content.
While reviewing your campaign, I noticed your design uses offensive material that doesn’t align with Custom Ink guidelines. In order for us to proceed with your campaign, we will need to remove all disparaging remarks regarding China from the design and fundraising page.
If you would like to redesign your design and update the verbiage on the page, please send it to me. I can make the update for you.
If you do not wish to make any changes, I’m able to cancel the fundraiser for you as well.
Please let me know which option would work best for you.
Your order is currently on hold until we work through this. I’d love to hear back from you as soon as possible so we can avoid any potential delays.
You can message me back by replying to this email, but if you would prefer to speak over the phone please give me a call at my number listed below. If I’m not available, any Inker would love to help you.
Custom Ink Fundraising Account Manager
In case you’re wondering, as a lifelong troublemaker of course I carefully read the Content Guidelines and was exceedingly careful to follow them and did not say anything offensive or disparaging. To be honest, with a name like “Enigma” I’m thinking that some bot picked up the world China, not an actual person, and autogenerated a boilerplate email. I’m planning on calling their office tomorrow for some clarification. but in the meantime, here’s how I replied to the email:
Enigma,What on earth is offensive about saying “Thanks, China!”? It’s clear that Xi JinPing and the Chinese Communist Party want the world’s gratitude in regard to its actions concerning the COVID-19 virus. How is it disparaging to show that gratitude? Nothing at all negative about China was said in either the design or in the campaign’s text. Please indicate what you consider to be offensive or disparaging so I know how to proceed further.Would “Thanks, Xi!” be acceptable? What about “Thanks, CCP!” Are politicians and political parties immune from comment at Custom Ink, or just those from China?I’ll note that you mention “disparaging remarks regarding China”, without indicating that the policy covers remarks about other countries. Not that my design or campaign disparages China in the least or, heaven forbid, the Chinese people, but will Custom Ink produce designs that Custom Ink believes are critical of any other country besides China?Will you make a shirt that says “Thanks, Trump!” along with an image of the coronavirus? What about “Thanks, Republicans!”?Ronnie Schreiber
I’ll keep you apprised of any further responses.
A couple of further notes about the Covid-19, or Wuhan Flu, or Winnie the Flu, or CCPneumonia, or Chinese Lung Rot, whichever you prefer, I won’t call you a racist. The next time someone does call you a racist for accurately referring to the current pandemic’s origin, ask them if they call it borrelia burgdorferi or Lyme disease.
I live in Michigan. Our governor, Karen… er Gretchen Halfwhit… er Whitless.. er Whitmer, is a national embarrassment for the way she has handled the Covid crisis. In a “Hey, Joe, pick me, pick me,” gesture, she provoked a fight with President Trump over medical and protective equipment that Michigan was actually getting, then tried to ban doctors and pharmacists in the state from treating Covid patients with Hydroxychloroquine, likely out of pique with the chief executive, then she tightened her emergency lockdown orders by banning big box stores from selling gardening stuff including seeds, landscape companies from cutting grass, recreational boating with any powered watercraft (Michigan has the second most boats registered of any state), and said people couldn’t ride out the pandemic in their cabins up north as the tri-county Detroit area was getting hammered with the virus. Thousands of Michiganders gridlocked Lansing in a socially distanced vehicular protest, and now four county sheriffs have publicly stated that they will not enforce the governor’s unconstitutional abuse of power.
At the same time, much as I think Gov. Whitmer has screwed the viral pooch eight ways to Sunday, I realize that there are many Americans that feel the same way about Pres. Trump. I disagree with them, but for the purposes of argument, let’s say that Whitmer and Trump have both fucked up. Add to that the multiple layers of bureucratic screw ups at that FDA and CDC. All of that nothwithstanding, no American is anywhere near as responsible for the deaths of now over 20,000 Americans (and hundreds of thousands worldwide) and the wrenching economic disruption the world is seeing, as Xi JinPing and the Chinese Communist Party. It’s pretty clear that Chubadao quality standards at a viral research lab let the virus escape and that multiple layers of the CCP obfuscated, lied, suppressed evidence, and disappeared researchers, doctors, and whistleblowers. Then the CCP shut down internal borders with Hubei province, while simultaneously allowing 5 million travelers to leave the epicenter of the epidemic for international destinations. That seems to me to be indistinguishable from deliberately trying to spread the contagion outside of China and infect the world. Maybe Xi and the CCP central committee decided that if their economy was going to take a hit, they’d make damn sure the rest of the world, particularly Europe and the U.S., would get fucked.
We’ll have plenty of time to point fingers, fix our responses, plan for the next pandemic, and vote our governors and president out of office if we care to, but we should never lose sight of the fact that this is entirely the fault of China. I have nothing against Chinese people, but if the CCP is going to say that it is identical with China, well then China’s got to take the blame for this pandemic.
*Lest you think that China, XinHua, the Middle Kingdom, is some kind of geographical description, or has anything to do with the series of dynasties that have ruled over China, it could also be translated as “Center of the Universe”, #hansupremacism.