Likewise the surest way to turn the people against someone they otherwise admire is to insinuate that person is taking advantage and unjustly dipping into the people's pockets. We've seen this in America with the positively absurdist right-wing rhetoric against public servants (don't look at the banks' record profits or those multinational tax-dodgers who claim they'd create more jobs here if the US corporate taxes were lower [meaning so they got billions more in tax rebates than they already do], no...all your economic woes stem from those greedy middle-class teachers).
In short, if you want the public to turn against someone, suggest that person is unfairly costing the public money. And so, we have out of China today, news that the government there is charging Ai Weiwei with "economic crimes:"
What's particularly insidious here is that it seems the Chinese government is clearly shopping around for the "crime" most suited to their twin goals: Ai Weiwei's silence and international breathing space:
“To my understanding, Ai Weiwei is suspected of economic crimes, and the Public Security Bureau is conducting an investigation according to law,” Hong Lei, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a regular news conference in Beijing. “China is a country under the rule of law, and relevant authorities will work according to law.”
Mr. Hong did not give further details, and he did not say why the authorities had yet to notify Mr. Ai’s family members of the detention. His remarks followed a cryptic one-line report that was posted on the Internet by Xinhua, the state news agency, around midnight that said the same thing. The report was deleted hours later from the Chinese and English Web sites of Xinhua, deepening the mystery around Mr. Ai’s detention. The government has convicted citizens of financial fraud before when trying to silence them.
Mr. Ai’s mother, Gao Ying, 78, denounced the government line in a telephone interview, saying: “Economic crimes! They say one thing now and another later. It’s ridiculous.” [...]Perhaps other countries have no power to interfere, but as China is asking to be taken seriously as an equal contributor to the dialog of contemporary art, the rest of the world has every right to demand some answers. It's entirely ludicrous that China would arrest Ai Weiwei on apparently trumped up charges and yet expect a place at the table as respected members of the international arts community. China needs to release Mr. Ai now.
Mr. Ai’s case is the most prominent one to pit the Communist Party against liberal Chinese and Western nations since that of Liu Xiaobo, the dissident writer who was sentenced to 11 years in prison here and awarded a Nobel Peace Prize last October. In response to calls by Western governments for China to release Mr. Ai immediately, Mr. Hong said Thursday, “Other countries have no right to interfere.”