Monday, March 14, 2005
Don’t Free Tibet
To everyone with an aging “Free Tibet” bumper sticker on the back of their rusting old Volvo, it looks like it’s time to give up the dream.
The Dalai Lama said that by dropping the sovereignty claim for Tibet, his people would be able to benefit from China’s economic achievements. This was in stark contrast to his previous stand, that Tibet should be a self-governing domestic and political entity under a type of “one country, two systems” arrangement.
“This is the message I wish to deliver to China,” he said. “I am not in favour of separation. Tibet is a part of the People’s Republic of China. It is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Tibetan culture and Buddhism are part of Chinese culture.”
I wonder how Richard Gere is taking the news. Intriguingly to me, Hollywood and its “Free Tibet” movement never wanted to actually do anything to free Tibet (except, of course, make movies and speeches). The truth is, though, that they deified the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan cause; it was easy for them since the leader of the movement was a peaceful, enlightened non-Westerner struggling for the rights of a country where the United States had no vested interests.
Put oil into the bedrock of a nation and no direct action that the United States takes can possibly be righteous. For that matter, if the leader happens to be a Republican, then the cause must be evil, heartless, and driven by semi-secret Zionist forces.
Now that the Dalai Lama has expressed a more materialistic side, hoping that China’s rapid development will fuel economic growth and security for Tibet, I wonder how the Hollywood elite will now view the leader. His statements--with a desire for cultural and spiritual autonomy, buttressed by all of the benefits of China’s economy and political structure--might not live up to Hollywood’s expectations of an immaculate leader.
It’s not as surprising a development as might otherwise be imagined, though.
In recent years, the Dalai Lama has been increasingly accommodating in his political manoeuvrings, pursuing a “middle way” that would ensure autonomy rather than independence and leave China in control of Tibet’s foreign policy.
So, not surprising, but it sure leaves a lot of bumper stickers looking a little out of date.