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August 11, 2008 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Remember Tibet during the Olympic Games. Jonathan Barnbrook and Pedro Inoue raise awareness through this new site. [Via Computer Love]
posted by wundermint (72 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Is there a single person on the planet with internet access who is not aware of the situation in Tibet?
posted by pompomtom at 6:31 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do you think the logo is supposed to be screwed up on half the pages so that not all the rings are linked?
posted by smackfu at 6:43 PM on August 11, 2008


Is torture an Olympic event?
posted by homunculus at 6:54 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The website www.forgettibet.com will consist of China's government replacing thousands of years of Tibetan history with a 24/7 CGI Fireworks display. During Christmas it will change to a virtual yule log.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:56 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


pompomtom writes "Is there a single person on the planet with internet access who is not aware of the situation in Tibet?"

You're kidding, right? You really think that the MySpacers and bananas-disprove-evolution crowd and the freepers know or care?
posted by orthogonality at 7:00 PM on August 11, 2008


Is there a single person on the planet with internet access who is not aware of the situation in Tibet?

The availability of information has nothing to do with actual absorption of that information. Or should I prepare a quiz for you on all of recorded history?
posted by danb at 7:16 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Looks like an interesting film, thanks homunculus.
posted by wundermint at 7:20 PM on August 11, 2008


A singer songwriter named Halley DeVestern has a song she made some years ago called "I Light Myself On Fire" which I believe is inspired by the Tibetan monks who poured gasoline on themselves and lit a match.

...was that before or after China started being a putz to them?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:22 PM on August 11, 2008


danb: I like quizzes!
posted by pompomtom at 7:25 PM on August 11, 2008


ZachsMind writes "which I believe is inspired by the Tibetan monks who poured gasoline on themselves and lit a match. "

Huh, I always associate self-immolation with Vietnamese monks and Norman Morrison. Have Tibetan momks actually done this too?
posted by orthogonality at 7:28 PM on August 11, 2008


How many medals has Tibet won?
posted by Eideteker at 7:35 PM on August 11, 2008


Eideteker writes "How many medals has Tibet won?"

Or as Uncle Joe Stalin similarly asked, "How many divisions has the Pope?"
posted by orthogonality at 7:37 PM on August 11, 2008



Is there a single person on the planet with internet access who is not aware of the situation in Tibet?


This is the equivalent of Pauline Kael saying in 1972, "Nixon can't have won; no one I know voted for him."
posted by availablelight at 7:41 PM on August 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Just to note that the Tibet situation is not nearly as simplistic as rightwingers would have you believe: Michael Parenti's Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth. Whenever someone assures you there are only two sides of an issue, look for the rest.
posted by shetterly at 7:48 PM on August 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


>Is there a single person on the planet with internet access who is not aware of the situation in Tibet?

This is the equivalent of Pauline Kael saying in 1972, "Nixon can't have won; no one I know voted for him."


Everyone who might potentially care already knows about it. And even a Serpentor made from Gandhi, Dr. King and Richard Gere couldn't muster enough global tut-tuts to shame the Chinese into withdrawing. The Chinese government has no shame, or else it wouldn't be such a perfect mix of repression and contradicted intentions. So that website is as worthless as any other effort that endeavors to preach to the choir.

Want China out of Tibet (to restore a feudal theocracy)? The only answer is force. And the horrible repercussions of said force.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:54 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


So am I bad person for enjoying the competition at this year's Summer Games? Or am I only allowed to watch the games with knitted brow and pursed lips?
posted by NoMich at 8:03 PM on August 11, 2008


I always associate self-immolation with Vietnamese monks

“The face of Buddha in the clouds.”
posted by homunculus at 8:19 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Want China out of Tibet (to restore a feudal theocracy)?

That's a false dichotomy. The Tibetan government in exile rejected that years ago.
posted by homunculus at 8:28 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


homunculus, do you know when they rejected it? I know the Dalai Lama didn't tell the rebels to stop fighting to restore old Tibet until the early '70s, a few years after the CIA stopped their funding. It reminds me of the Confederacy's proposal in 1865 to give up slavery in the hope of winning European support--when the choice is between keeping power and having none, people will surrender the darndest things, but it doesn't mean they've suddenly become nicer.
posted by shetterly at 8:53 PM on August 11, 2008


That's a false dichotomy. The Tibetan government in exile rejected that years ago.

But well after the invasion, when they became aware of the power of public sympathy. So it's really sincere. (as shetterly has eloquently pointed out)

But let's be pragmatic-- how do you want to free Tibet?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:57 PM on August 11, 2008


shetterly, I think the Dalai Lama gets a lot of undeserved scorn for decisions made when he was basically a child and didn't have that much influence anyway. I think he's matured quite a bit, and so have those around him. If China collapsed tomorrow and he and his government were restored, I think they'd be a lot like Bhutan, pushing more Democracy on the country than the populace knew what to do with. It would probably be kind of funny.

Mayor Curley, pragmatically speaking, I think they're totally fucked. The Chinese will do to them what we did to the American Indians, and worse, and they will justify it as saving the primitive Tibetans from feudal theocracy just as we saved the Indians from Godless savagery, while conveniently profiting from their gold and timber and uranium. Tibetan culture is doomed, IMO.
posted by homunculus at 9:35 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


homunculus, an article you might like, from the Atlantic: Tibet Through Chinese Eyes. The writer has more sympathy for both sides than Parenti. He also makes the Native American comparison, but I'll add that the Chinese would have a long way to go before they managed to treat Tibetans as badly as the US treated the Native Americans.
posted by shetterly at 10:51 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is there any viable plan to expel China from Tibet? Would arming Tibetans even help?
posted by jeffburdges at 10:58 PM on August 11, 2008


shetterly, I've read that and it's quite good. I agree that the Chinese still have a long way to go to catch up with us, but they're doing it so methodically and consciously that I have a bad feeling they could finish the job more efficiently than we did, especially if they get angry over recent events. On the other hand, they have more history with the Tibetans than we did with the Indians, and most of them don't really seem to want to be there anyway, so my slim hope is that in the long run they'll just decide it isn't worth it and leave them be.
posted by homunculus at 12:19 AM on August 12, 2008


homunculus, I dunno about "methodically." The Atlantic article points out several nice things, and one of them is the problem in the Dalai Lama's wish to limit travel to Tibet. Freedom of travel is a basic human right. That desire to turn Tibet back into an isolated Tibetan Buddhist state is one of the reasons I continue to wonder about the Dalai Lama's motives.
posted by shetterly at 12:36 AM on August 12, 2008


Wasn't Tibet actually worse off before Chinese rule?
posted by jeblis at 12:55 AM on August 12, 2008


shetterly: Just to note that the Tibet situation is not nearly as simplistic as rightwingers would have you believe: Michael Parenti's Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth.

The argument Parenti makes in that article, like pretty much every argument against Tibetan independence/autonomy I've ever seen that isn't "they're Chinese whether they like it or not", basically boils down to the same one as that old favorite of Iraq war supporters- "The Tibetan theocracy/Saddam Hussein was horrible, so that justifies the occupation, or at any rate makes it not so bad." The usually unspoken corollary is that it also justifies whatever atrocities the occupier commits. I don't have any more sympathy for that argument when it comes to China and Tibet than I do with the US and Iraq- imperialism does not, in my view, become more morally justified when the occupier overthrows despotic native rulers and builds a bunch of modern infrastructure, as Parenti harps on China doing in Tibet (which, if he were consistent, would also make him an apologist for the British Empire in India and Imperial Japan in Korea, along with many others). It's an atrocious crime in any circumstances, and it seems extremely clear to me that what China is doing in Tibet more than fits the definition of imperialism- the Atlantic article was an excellent illustration of that.

And frankly, Parenti is, IMO, someone who seriously lacks credibility on any subject related to human rights- he's the bad kind of leftist in my view, a pro-Milosevic Soviet apologist. Pointing that out may be technically be an ad hominem, but I think most people here would rightfully take anything a Pinochet-supporting member of the BNP said about political matters with a giant grain of salt. I'm not inclined to give the left-wing equivalent of such (as I feel Parenti is) any more credibility, even if his politics are at least superficially closer to my own.

To sum up- I don't at all dispute that Tibet was indeed a feudal theocracy before the Chinese invasion and should not be romanticized, but reducing the issue of China and Tibet to that is like reducing the US occupation of Iraq to Saddam Hussein- it is the argument of an apologist for imperialism, IMO, and seeing how many liberals and leftists seem to buy into it on the subject of Tibet is quite dismaying to me.

jeblis: Wasn't Tibet actually worse off before Chinese rule?

I don't know, was India worse off before the rule of the British Empire?
posted by a louis wain cat at 2:34 AM on August 12, 2008


Jeblis, from the Atlantic article that I linked to: "“95 percent of the population was hereditary serfs and slaves owned by monasteries and nobles.”"

a louis wain cat, the important question with Parenti is whether is honest and respected. A little googling will answer that.

The Iraq War analogy falls apart: historically, Tibet was part of China. The Dalai Lama's title, given to him by a Chinese emperor, reflects that fact. The best analogy I've found is the Confederacy: a slave-owning region was independent until the original government returned and ended slavery.

I'm confused by your Milosevic comment: in that case, Parenti was arguing for nonintervention, which, I thought, is your take also.
posted by shetterly at 3:21 AM on August 12, 2008


P.S. Okay, you could argue that the "original government" didn't return to Tibet, but effectively, it did: when the current Dalai Lama was installed, representives of Mao's government were there to approve his selection, just as representatives of China's emperors had always been present to approve a new Dalai Lama.
posted by shetterly at 3:28 AM on August 12, 2008


Shetterly: No -- the title "Dalai Lama" was "given" to the third Dalai Lama by the Mongolian (not Chinese) emperor Altan Khan. In fact, it wasn't really a bestowed title -- "dalai" is actually a translation of the "Gyatso" part of the Tibetan name of third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso, into Mongolian. Misunderstanding Tibetan names, the Khan -- or his translator anyhow -- thought Gyatso was the lama's family name; it's kind of like the historical Buddha being called "Shakyamuni," or the sage from the Shakya clan. This was happening as the Mongolian emperor was converting to Buddhism.

The history of central Asia is not so neat as the PRC (or the opening ceremonies of the Olympics) would have westerners believe: there were many empires and kingdoms -- including Mongolia, China, and Tibet, all variously occupying and getting free from each other again and again over a very long period of time.
posted by aught at 6:03 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Iraq War analogy falls apart: historically, Tibet was part of China. The Dalai Lama's title, given to him by a Chinese emperor, reflects that fact.

Though there's certainly a case for it, that's... rather debatable (for balance, here's the Tibetan side of that), and even if for the sake of argument one accepts the Chinese take on it completely, I'm not sure it necessarily proves that much. Using that as the determining factor, China has just as solid a claim over Mongolia as Tibet, since Mongolia was also officially under Chinese control for hundreds of years, and also broke away when the Qing dynasty fell. Indeed, China actually took it back in 1919, and might have held on to it if not for (in one of the more bizarre bits of world history) the actions of a psychopathic Baltic German warlord, which arguably could make the claim on Mongolia even stronger than that on Tibet. Yet the position that Mongolia is properly part of China and should be returned to it doesn't have many defenders, especially not among the Mongolians themselves. And though during the times when it was under Chinese control the degree of that control varied, I don't get the impression the degree of total control by China over Tibet that exists now was ever the status quo- if historical precedent is the determining factor here, at the very least Tibet should now have a greater degree of autonomy than it does now.

To me, far more relevant than the strict legalities of it is that Tibet, like Mongolia, was both de facto independent and culturally and linguistically distinct (quite unlike the Confederacy), and the behavior of the Chinese has been quite clearly imperialist. The Tibetans are being treated not as fellow citizens, but the way a colonizer treats the colonized. I'm not, as I say, at all denying that pre-invasion Tibet was an oppressive society (though I have doubts that it was quite as uniquely bad by the standards of the time as defenders of China's occupation paint it, and a strong case can be made that Maoist China, certainly during the periods of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, was an even worse place than feudal Tibet), but I don't think that justifies what China has done in the least- if it's taken as justification, almost any sort of imperialist action becomes similarly justified. I mean, to take one example, Korea before Imperial Japan's occupation wasn't hugely different from Tibet- it was a repressive feudalist society. The Imperial Japanese overthrew the feudal lords and generally modernized the country when they occupied it, but one doesn't find many defenders of Imperial Japan's rule over Korea, for very good reason, and least of all among the Koreans. I don't think that Korea was better off for being occupied by Japan, and I don't think that Tibet is better off for being occupied by China- obviously I don't know how it would have evolved if it hadn't been, but I am inclined to think that it would now be something like Bhutan (which was quite similar to Tibet in terms of culture and government) if it had avoided the Chinese occupation, which seems like a much better outcome for the Tibetans by any measure.

I'm confused by your Milosevic comment: in that case, Parenti was arguing for nonintervention, which, I thought, is your take also.

I wouldn't have a problem with arguing for non-intervention at all, but he goes well beyond just that. One could, and many did, make a principled argument for non-intervention in the Balkans without being actively pro-Milosevic- which Parenti was and is. He was, after all, the head of the United States chapter of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic. And if you read that article he wrote that I linked to, he claims Milosevic was "democratically elected" and presents him as some sort of socialist champion of the poor (and a "proud and devoted father to his children" besides) heroically standing up to Western capitalists and Muslim "drug dealers, terrorists, and ethnic cleansers"- he literally fails to find one bad thing about Milosevic in the entire course of the article, while accepting without a trace of skepticism all manner of negative claims about his enemies. All sorts of highly relevant details are simply not spoken of. Then, of course, there's the bit about the Srebrenica massacre in that article, which seems to make an attempt at implying that it wasn't actually committed by the Serbs ("not more than 2000 bodies of undetermined nationality"). In short, he's pretty much the moral equivalent of a Pinochet defender, as far as I'm concerned, and that being the case, I'm not inclined to find him at all trustworthy.
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:07 AM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Okay, you could argue that the "original government" didn't return to Tibet, but effectively, it did: when the current Dalai Lama was installed, representives of Mao's government were there to approve his selection, just as representatives of China's emperors had always been present to approve a new Dalai Lama.

So all claims that imperial China made are now legitimate? Somebody better tell Mongolia, Russia and Vietnam!

I know it's fun to be all contrian, but you really sound like a stooge who is just reciting CCP talking points. If you really want to talk about Tibet, please address issues as they actually stand, instead of attacking a 50 year old straw man.
posted by afu at 8:23 AM on August 12, 2008


China has been settling Han people in Tibet. Such moves are "illegal" under international law, exactly like Israeli settlements. But you can't really stop them. So after some time Tibetians must either accept Han rule or depose the Han minority. To depose the Han minority either means direct military conflicts or else major democratic reforms in China. I'd be lovely if Tibet was an independent nation, but I don't see it ever happening now.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:38 AM on August 12, 2008


Seduced by the Dalai Lama: He may be a global icon of goodness, as Pico Iyer's biography reminds us. But is the Dalai Lama the political leader Tibet needs?
posted by homunculus at 9:24 AM on August 12, 2008


aught, yes, the emperor of China was a Mongol. The people in power changed, but China endured, and Tibet kept paying taxes and recognizing Chinese authority. That's how empires work. The retroactivity of the Dalai Lama's title is a side issue, made to obscure the fact that it's a title given by the Chinese emperor to his loyal servant.

a louis wain cat, good warlord link! But what you call the Tibetan side is the CIA/Dalai Lama side--it's rather like linking to a Cuba site created by the people who had benefited under Batista's dictatorship. It's only "a" Tibetan side, not "the" Tibetan side.

Tibet was a brutal slave state. If you have doubts, you can look at the footage from the 1939 expedition, which is here and elsewhere. Brutal slave states do not develop well on their own.

Because there are people who only believe conservative sources, I put together a Tibet FAQ that doesn't use any sources more liberal than the Atlantic here.

afu, the "stooge" charge is always tricky to make. The Dalai Lama's group was financed by the CIA and is still supported by the CIA front, the NED. Suggesting that you're reciting CIA talking points doesn't help the discourse, I'm sure you'll agree.

jeffburdges, that's not illegal. That's free movement, a basic human right. Read the Atlantic article that I linked to above. But with that quibble, I do agree with you.

homunculus, more propaganda. By the time the writer mentions a million Tibetans killed, you know it's nonsense. At the time, Tibet's population was 1.2 million.
posted by shetterly at 11:43 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


a louis wain cat I don't know, was India worse off before the rule of the British Empire?


I don't know, but either way, what's that got to do with the price of tea in China? err... I mean quality of life in Tibet? Characterizing all imperial rule as bad and the same is a gross simplification. There's a lot of propaganda, misinformation about Tibet.. and most people's understanding of the situation is a simplistic invasion=bad, communism=bad, china=bad without any real understanding of the situation.
posted by jeblis at 12:31 PM on August 12, 2008


Oh and those things may be true about Chinese rule, but why put things back as they were if things were worse?
posted by jeblis at 12:34 PM on August 12, 2008


Shetterly: You must be confused. Some Mongol Khans might have ruled parts or all of China at other times in history, but the Altan Khan was not a ruler of China, nor was he Chinese. If I remember correctly, he actually spent a fair amount of effort trying to attack China's Ming Dynasty, and some portion of the Great Wall was built as a defense against his forces' incursions.
posted by aught at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2008


jeblis, no one wants to see Tibet go back to the way it was before. It seems more likely that the government in exile would continue its reforms and follow the Bhutanese model. Bhutan is not perfect, but I'd rather be Bhutanese than Tibetan under Chinese rule. I don't believe the Dalai Lama or his government have any desire to go back to the old ways, and they know it would be impossible anyway.

shetterly, I don't hold it against the Dalai Lama that he's accepted aid from the CIA. In his shoes, I would have too. But what would you like to see happen in Tibet, ideally? I assume you wouldn't want the Dalai Lama's government to return, but what would you see as the ideal outcome?
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on August 12, 2008


Discussing Tibet, Without the BS
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on August 12, 2008


aught, for some historical perspective, here's the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica entry: "Jenghiz Khan had founded the Mongol empire, and his grandson Kublai Khan became a convert to the Buddhism of the Tibetan Lamas. He granted to the abbot of the Sakya monastery in southern Tibet the title of tributary sovereign of the country, head of the Buddhist church, and overlord over the numerous barons and abbots, and in return was officially crowned by the abbot as ruler over the extensive domain of the Mongol empire. Thus was the foundation laid at one and the same time of the temporal sovereignty of the Lamas of Tibet, and of the suzerainty over Tibet of the emperors of China."

homunculus, if you look at the people the CIA was helping in the 1950s, it was a pretty despicable group. Most famously, that's when they overthrew democracies in Guatemala and Iran. So I sure hope that in the Dalai Lama's place, I would not have accepted their aid. I hope I would've done what other Buddhist leaders did, like Dorje Phagmo, who chose to stay with the people and work to make things better.

The ideal outcome is analogous to the situation with Native Americans here: provide education and health care and leave them free to keep developing their culture within the national culture. The Chinese are offering education in the Tibetan language. The key is to encourage more dialogue with China, not less.
posted by shetterly at 3:59 PM on August 12, 2008


ZachsMind: "...which I believe is inspired by the Tibetan monks who poured gasoline on themselves and lit a match. "

OrthoGonality: "Huh, I always associate self-immolation with Vietnamese monks and Norman Morrison. Have Tibetan momks actually done this too?"

Oh was that Vietnamese monks? I thought it was Tibetan. My bad. I said "i believe is inspired" and what one believes is rarely what is actually happening.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:49 PM on August 12, 2008


shetterly: a louis wain cat, good warlord link! But what you call the Tibetan side is the CIA/Dalai Lama side--it's rather like linking to a Cuba site created by the people who had benefited under Batista's dictatorship. It's only "a" Tibetan side, not "the" Tibetan side.

I don't claim what I linked is unbiased, and granted that it's basically the Tibetan exile viewpoint- but I do have the impression that what's presented there is far closer to the views of the average Tibetan than the PRC view. I've seen nothing to give me the impression that the Tibetans in general are at all happy about things as they are now, or have any fond feelings towards the PRC. Not that it's all that easy to find out what the average Tibetan thinks, which itself does not exactly say good things about the current situation.

(And as for the CIA thing, pretty much every insurgent movement out there got aid from either the US or the USSR during the Cold War. Does it discredit the South African ANC that they received support from the Soviet bloc? Both the CIA and the Soviet equivalents were monstrous, but in Cold War circumstances it was incredibly difficult to survive without aid from one of them.)

Tibet was a brutal slave state. If you have doubts, you can look at the footage from the 1939 expedition, which is here and elsewhere. Brutal slave states do not develop well on their own.

"But Saddam Hussein gassed his own people!"

Look, I totally get that Tibet was feudalistic and oppressive. If Saddam's brutality didn't warrant the US invading, neither did Tibetan feudalist brutality warrant a Chinese invasion. Would you have supported the US invasion if it had been more competent? I mean, that would be a consistent position, at least. I wouldn't agree, obviously- my position is that there's no such thing as a humanitarian colonial occupation, that it's essentially a contradiction in terms. What benefits imperialism brings to those on the receiving end are accidental (since they are done in the interest of the colonizer, not the colonized) and are entirely attainable without the experience of imperialist rule, as those few non-Western countries that managed to avoid it demonstrate.

As for brutal slave states not developing well on their own- a great many countries have fit that definition at one time or another, and did in fact change without an imperialist occupation.
I mean, China had forced labor camps under Mao (and I believe still has them)- considering that, it could pretty fairly be called a "brutal slave state" as well. Would you say China hasn't developed well? Would it have been helped by some foreign power invading and occupying it?

And like I say, I'm pretty sure Bhutan wasn't very different at all from Tibet in this respect- they had a similar system of serfdom, which they abolished without having to be invaded by anyone. And though Bhutan may not be a paradise, there isn't much doubt in my mind at all that here and now, the Bhutanese are far better off than the Tibetans.

jeblis: I don't know, but either way, what's that got to do with the price of tea in China? err... I mean quality of life in Tibet? Characterizing all imperial rule as bad and the same is a gross simplification.

I do think that on a fundamental level, imperial rule is always bad (though the degree of badness certainly varies widely), but my point was that it isn't really such a simple question, in either case. There are those who claim that India is indeed better off because of British rule- the British, after all, built a bunch of industrial infrastructure, modernized things, and banned practices like sati. However, they were also brutal and racist, looted and pillaged the country, and showed very little regard indeed for Indian lives and rights. The parallel with China and Tibet is quite close. (And I have a really hard time believing that the Maoists were kinder masters in any sense than the British.) In both cases, I don't feel the latter is justified or excused in any sense by the former, and I don't think it's a case of having to take the latter to get the former- I think India left to its own devices would have probably attained those more positive aspects of the British rule on it's own, as those few non-Western countries that avoided colonialism certainly managed it. Similarly with Tibet.

But that's my viewpoint- I'm against imperialism, across the board. Not everyone agrees- though I strongly disagree I can understand why others might feel differently, but I do get annoyed by flagrant double standards, where people who claim to be always against imperialism in practice make exceptions in certain cases. Among many left-leaning people, China's occupation of Tibet actually seems to be a fairly popular exception.
And once again, if you say it wasn't imperialism because Tibet was always part of China (which is as I say not really a slam-dunk issue either way), you do sort of have to deal with the issue of why Mongolia gets to be independant and Tibet doesn't, because China has equally good claims over both. If you accept those arguments, you have to question just how much weight and importance is behind that claim when you consider how quickly, easily, and permanently Baron Ungern von Sternberg was able to nullify it in the case of Mongolia.
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:53 PM on August 12, 2008


afu, the "stooge" charge is always tricky to make. The Dalai Lama's group was financed by the CIA and is still supported by the CIA front, the NED. Suggesting that you're reciting CIA talking points doesn't help the discourse, I'm sure you'll agree.

I said you sounded like a stooge, not that you were one. I really have no idea where you are coming from. Take this,

The ideal outcome is analogous to the situation with Native Americans here: provide education and health care and leave them free to keep developing their culture within the national culture. The Chinese are offering education in the Tibetan language. The key is to encourage more dialogue with China, not less.

That sounds a lot like the Dali Lama's current position of limited autonomy for Tibet within the Chinese state. But what happened 50 years ago must be more important than what he is saying today, and he took money from the CIA, so whatever he says must be evil.

Invoking freedom of movement to support the polices of the Communist Party of China takes some impressive cognitive dissonance.
posted by afu at 7:03 PM on August 12, 2008


a louis wain cat, I'm with you on not liking invasions. But what's interesting about China in Tibet is they initially made changes very slowly and fairly peacefully. After a few years, the CIA funded a revolt by the former slaveowners, and things got ugly fast.

Here's one Tibetan, quoted in the Washington Post, which is far from a leftist source: ”I’ve already lived that life once before,” said Wangchuk, a 67-year-old former slave who was wearing his best clothes for his yearly pilgrimage to Shigatse, one of the holiest sites of Tibetan Buddhism. He said he worshiped the Dalai Lama, but added, “I may not be free under Chinese Communism, but I am better off than when I was a slave.”

I think you're being sloppy when you compare prison societies with slave societies. The average Tibetan under the Dalai Lamas was not free to travel. The average Chinese in China today is--that's one of the Dalai Lama's complaints.

Still, our positions aren't that far apart. I've argued that slavery would've ended within a few years had the Confederacy been allowed to secede, and there wouldn't have been the harsh reaction of Jim Crow if that development had been natural rather than imposed. If you think the South should've been allowed to secede, thinking Tibet should've been allowed its secession is reasonable.

But ultimately, we have to deal with what exists now. And now, I think the Dalai Lama's group is only creating problems as it seeks a way to regain power.
posted by shetterly at 7:17 PM on August 12, 2008


Afu, the Dalai Lama's plan is impossible. I address it in more length here. The quick version is that he's demanding lands that the Dalai Lamas never controlled, he wants to put an end to freedom of travel, and he wants to be the constitutional head of church and state in this Greater Tibet. That's not an opening in an honest dialogue.
posted by shetterly at 7:24 PM on August 12, 2008


If the US can invade Iraq, China can invade Tibet.

If China can invade Tibet, Russia can invade Georgia.

If pumpernickel can invade kumquat, nonpacifists can kiss my butt.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:29 PM on August 12, 2008


The average Tibetan under the Dalai Lamas was not free to travel. The average Chinese in China today is

And the average Tibetan in Chinese controlled Tibet today is not.

Though at least one Tibetan is suing the government over it, which would not have even been allowed a few years ago. We'll have to wait and see how far she gets.
posted by homunculus at 8:07 PM on August 12, 2008


homunculus, excellent link! Thanks! She's made of the stuff of heroes!

I was talking about freedom to travel within a country, though. Tibetan serfs had no freedom of travel. China has made great advances regarding travel within China--that's part of the Dalai Lama's complaint.
posted by shetterly at 8:20 PM on August 12, 2008


Glad you liked it, shetterly. I posted more about Woeser here.
posted by homunculus at 8:56 PM on August 12, 2008


he wants to be the constitutional head of church and state in this Greater Tibet

The Dalai Lama has explicitly stated that he does not want to be a political leader and that he is willing to give up his role if the people want him to. I'd look up some sources, but I'm in China now and if I Google anything about Tibet my internet goes down for a few minutes. I can't read your blog cause all word press blogs are blocked here as well. Yay! for freedom in China!
posted by afu at 9:25 PM on August 12, 2008


Afu, I read the Dalai Lama's statement about that, but if it meant anything, he would've formally abdicated when his followers rioted.

And, yes, freedom has a long way to go in China, but it is growing there. What worries me is it's shrinking in the US.
posted by shetterly at 9:37 PM on August 12, 2008


Unveiling Police State 2.0
posted by homunculus at 9:44 PM on August 12, 2008


shetterly: I know a little bit about this, and I don't believe the Britannica 1911 has its facts straight -- I would imagine the writer of the article got his info from a Chinese source. But it's clear that nothing anyone offers in this thread can shake your iron-clad preconceptions, so whatever.
posted by aught at 5:48 AM on August 13, 2008


aught, what's strange is that a year or two ago, I didn't have strong opinions about Tibet. Then I started researching it, and my research took me to where I am today. So I wouldn't say I have preconceptions--if anything, I have postconceptions, because the conceptions follow the research. And I wouldn't say my conceptions are iron-clad--I'm still open to the possibility that I haven't found the whole picture.

Still, my current take is that the truth is between the CIA's and the PRC's position: China's historical claims to Tibet are valid, but Tibetans, like people everywhere, should have more freedom.
posted by shetterly at 9:48 AM on August 13, 2008


The Peoples Republic of China and Fair Use
posted by homunculus at 10:37 AM on August 13, 2008


homunculus, yes, it sucks when people abuse copyright for political reasons. That's a trick China learned from Britain and the US. If you're calling for an end to copyright, I could support you.
posted by shetterly at 1:19 PM on August 13, 2008


shetterly : It is illegal to intentionally settle your own people in an occupied country to make the occupation permanent, which is also why the Israeli settlements are illegal. Of course, if you've occupied for some time, then yes natural migration does become a human right.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:55 PM on August 13, 2008


jeffburdges, Tibet was not been recognized as an independent country for centuries. From here:

As Mr. Sperling notes, Tibet became (de facto) independent in 1911 after the Manchu dynasty fell. But this independence was never accepted by either the Chinese governments that succeeded the Manchu or by Britain, India and the United States, the democracies with whom Tibet had the closest ties.

For political and economic self-interest, these democracies instead continued to accept Chinese suzerainty over Tibet. Consequently, when Mao Zedong sent his army to incorporate Tibet into the People’s Republic of China in 1950, Britain, India and the United States not only did not assist Tibet, but also blocked Tibet’s appeal for help to the United Nations.

Similarly, in 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled to exile in India after a failed revolt and declared Tibetan independence, Britain, India and the United States again continued to accept Tibet as part of China.

posted by shetterly at 9:31 PM on August 13, 2008


Tibet was not been recognized as an independent country for centuries.

Did they have a flag?
posted by homunculus at 9:58 PM on August 13, 2008


homunculus, Eddie Izzard is very, very wise. (And, yes, you did get me to Google "Tibet flag." Kind of fun. The quick answer is they chose a flag right after the fall of the Manchus. Maoist China let them keep using it until the nobility revolted.)

Snow lions are cool, but Arizona has the best flag ever.
posted by shetterly at 12:36 AM on August 14, 2008


GRL's James Powderly detained in Beijing for planning pro-Tibet "L.A.S.E.R. Stencil" art protest
posted by homunculus at 9:37 AM on August 19, 2008


Polish Olympic Weightlifter Makes Tibet Protest in Beijing
posted by homunculus at 9:51 AM on August 19, 2008


Beijing: Five US activists detained after lighting up "Free Tibet" LED Throwies banner near Olympics site
posted by homunculus at 1:06 PM on August 19, 2008


Update
posted by homunculus at 10:14 AM on August 21, 2008


Dalai Lama says 400 Tibetans killed by Chinese since March
posted by homunculus at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2008


homunculus, if you've got better sources, please use them. Students for a Free Tibet is a National Endowment for Democracy front, and the Dalai Lama has been claiming 1.2 million Tibetans were killed at a time when the population of Tibet was 1.24 million. Mind you, I'm not saying either of your items are false. But the sources are notoriously unreliable, so better ones would be appreciated.
posted by shetterly at 9:55 PM on August 21, 2008


shetterly, I share relevant links in threads I'm interested in as I find them. I don't mean for anyone to just accept them unquestioningly. Personally, I think the Dalai Lama needs to back up his claims with some evidence. If he does, or if his claim is disproved, I'll post it. OTOH, the Chinese government's "we don't do body counts" attitude and hostility to investigative journalism from third parties makes that very unlikely, so I'm not holding my breath.

Here's a NYTimes article about the foreign protesters, and here's another one about two Chinese protesters who've been sentenced to a year of labor for demanding their rights.
posted by homunculus at 11:04 PM on August 21, 2008


homunculus, I want to say "a pox on both their houses," but I'm living in one of 'em, so all I can do is ask them to be honest. It'll be interesting to see what comes of the latest claims.
posted by shetterly at 11:29 PM on August 22, 2008


China's heavy Olympic footprint on Tibet
posted by homunculus at 2:08 PM on August 23, 2008


Tibetan exiles fear China will intensify crackdown in Tibet after Olympics
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on August 24, 2008


Tibet’s most famous woman blogger, Woeser, detained by police
posted by homunculus at 5:17 PM on August 25, 2008


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