If there is one thing we can count on from Russia and China, it’s to kick us while we’re down.

The U.S. is reeling now, as we should be, from national protests over the unjust killing of George Floyd and a long overdue reckoning with racism and police brutality.

But in another disorienting signal of the surrealism overtaking everyday life in our nation, we must deal now with lectures from autocrats and authoritarians whose sense of freedom runs exactly as far as it serves their own interests. Beyond that, well, disappearing and death are on the menu.

Predictably, China has mocked the U.S. for hypocrisy, citing broadly expressed concerns about the crackdown on protests in Hong Kong. The overly aggressive response of police to protesters here opened the door for the charge.

But it’s worth noting that the protesters in the streets of Hong Kong are risking everything for the rights we have here—rights that must be respected for our own protesters. And, of course, we say this loudly and proudly and without fear as the local press.

Russia’s foreign ministry—arm of strongman Vladimir Putin—had a similar criticism. Putin has been in power since 1999 as Russia has descended ever deeper into an aggressive, totalitarian state with an aim of accruing power by diminishing democracies throughout the world, and nowhere more than America.

Even as they lecture us publicly, Russia and China are using social media in the way it works best—to stoke social division. As Politico reported this week, both nations are flooding Twitter with material hashtagged to George Floyd’s death.

The idea is to make the U.S. appear to be a hypocritical nation on the brink of unraveling.

What these abusive regimes fail to recognize is America’s freedom is its strength. What they see as an unraveling (because they fear all unrest) we understand as evolving.

America can struggle through pain and discord toward reform and harmony because we have the freedom to engage in that struggle as a people. Even now, on the streets and in city halls and in statehouses and in our nation’s capital, we are considering how we can become a better America. We will argue, and we will disagree, and we will vote, and we will change.

The struggle on the streets is a part of our becoming what the Russian and Chinese regimes cannot accept because to accept it would require subjecting themselves to the will of their people. And instead, they opt to silence their people.

What should be evident from what’s happening in America today is that our people are not silenced. Our people are demanding their rights. And they will be heard.

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