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Almost all modern U.S. presidents have received 'criticism from Confucius'

(People's Daily Online)

13:42, June 27, 2012

Zhang Tao, a professor at Sichuan International Studies University, thought Americans lacked a basic understanding of China, when he first went to the United States as a visiting scholar.

At the time, Zhang was looking through early U.S. media archives to study the formation of American national consciousness. Much to his surprise, he found Chinese cultural traces in this "purely American" academic field.

Zhang ran across an issue of the New York Weekly Journal published in 1743, when the country had not become independent, at the library of the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. The four-page newspaper devoted its entire front page to an article about the morals of Confucius and the Chinese people's advocacy of Confucianism.

Afterward, Zhang spent seven years collecting nearly 10,000 Confucius-related articles from 15 U.S. newspapers and studying the image changes of Confucius in these newspapers. Based on his studies, Zhang wrote a book named "Confucius in the United States of America."

Confucius is not just an ancient Chinese philosopher in the eyes of U.S. media outlets, according to Zhang Tao's book, Confucius in the United States of America. The media have not only mentioned his name, but also used his teachings to comment on various domestic events.

Just as ancient Chinese emperors often had to endure the admonitions of imperial censors, U.S. presidents sometimes have to face "criticism from Confucius."

The New York Times, one of the most influential newspapers in the United States, once published an article criticizing George W. Bush for his malapropism. "Confucius said that if language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion," the newspaper said, asking Bush to learn the teachings of Confucius. The San Francisco Chronicle suggested that Bush should learn etiquette from a Confucianism expert.

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