Human rights conference brings up controversial topics among academics

by Jessica Morgan

Richard Miller brings to the U his expert knowledge as well as his controversial ideas about global power and America.

Rachael Boettcher, a law student at the University of Utah, stood in the hallway after class and chatted with a group of friends. Like many students at the U, she worked hard during the week so she could spend her weekends as she pleased. Today she was planning a worry free weekend with some of her law school friends.
Boettcher has always enjoyed the freedoms America has to offer. She was able to attend university as a woman, something many women in other nations simply aren’t allowed to do. Beyond that, Boettcher often walks alone downtown late at night with little worry or harm.
“I am lucky that I am able to do what I want on the weekends, or everyday for that matter,” Boettcher, 25, who often lets loose when not in school, said.
Yet, her freedoms, at least her views of what she had always taken for granted, were about to be challenged.
“I’d like to propose an idea, one that I believe is an inevitable truth: that we are so indebted to China that we will eventually lose our power as a country and a global power,” Richard W. Miller, renowned author and professor of philosophy at Cornell University, said Thursday at an event hosted by the University.
The United States is in a great amount of debt and China holds a large portion of that deficit. This number continues to grow with time.
According to the Federal Reserve, as of January 2011, foreigners owned $4.45 trillion of the U.S. debt. That is approximately 32 percent of the total debt of $14.1 trillion.
And as of May 2011 the largest single holder of our governments debt was China, with 26 percent of all foreign-held U.S. Treasury securities: 8 percent of the total public debt.
The topic of America’s debt to China has long been debated, but along with debate often comes humor, something that seems to accompany similar prominent subjects.

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However, Miller did not bring much humor to his lecture that was part of the Human Rights Conference. Instead he brought controversial ideas.
“I’d like to go even further…I suggest that we surrender to China before the inevitable occurs. I believe this is in our best interest as a country,” said Miller.
There are many people who would agree with Miller when it comes to the nations debt to China. Those in agreeance would likely argue that the numbers do the talking.
“To put China’s ownership of U.S. debt in perspective, its’ holding of $1.2 trillion is even larger than the amount owned by American households. U.S. citizens hold only about $959 billion in U.S. debt, according to the Federal Reserve.” (usgovinfo)
Yet, simply because America owes a debt, it does not mean that our nation must surrender, many disputed after the lecture. There were many students and attendees who were not afraid to voice their opinions, even if they were disapproving of Millers controversial views.
“I respect Miller, and think he is an exceptionally well educated man, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with him,” said Garreth Long, a law student at the U.
Fellow student Joseph Taggart agreed. “You will always find competing views on a subject…although I disagree with his idea that we should surrender ourselves to China, I can still respect him and his opinion,” said Taggart.
And although Miller’s lecture may have been controversial and perhaps even uncomfortable, his views were not disregarded.
“We are lucky to have someone as reputable as Richard Miller come speak to us and share his knowledge and understanding on the topic…It is important to listen to ideas that you may not agree with and even make you uncomfortable,” said Professor William Richards.
For Boettcher, Millers speech seemed radical and even uncomfortable, but after leaving the lecture hall she was able to go back to her life like normal. After all she was looking forward to her fun filled weekend. She likely walked around downtown late at night without harm. However this time she was likely acutely aware of the freedom she was so readily enjoying, all because of Millers controversial lecture.