Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Livin' On A Chinese Rock

Paint me screaming purple, but the lack of street violence by all those yuppie hippies with "Free Tibet" stickers on their cars is a little surprising. You'd think, given recent events in that holy land, that the gray ponytail crowd would show some solidarity, some get up and go. Not much -- a brick through a Chinese restaurant window, dumping a few gallons of Tsingtao in a sewer, a public burning of La Choy products. Anything. But no, they cruise blissfully along, driving below the speed limit, riding their brakes, trying to comprehend how a four way stop works. Free Tibet? How 'bout washing your damn car?

Tibet remains a romantic notion to a fair number of older American libs. Everyone from Bill Murray to Brad Pitt have advertised its allure. Long robes, old bells, mountain monasteries, prayer wheels, shorn hair. Sorta like "Kung Fu" minus the spear dodging. Then there's the Dalai Lama, the Maharishi of NPR-land. What a run this cat has enjoyed. I doubt that a tanned, rested, rejuvenated Jesus would match the Lama's poll numbers. Too edgy. Too confrontational. Letterman to the Lama's Leno. Yet something tells me that Christ might say or do something in reaction to state repression. All we're getting from the Lama is raised eyebrows and non-committal pull quotes: "I do feel helpless. Cannot do anything. I have no such power." Of course, he cannot stop China's crackdown, but he could speak to his followers, who are on the frontlines. Maybe he wants them mowed down. Life is suffering, after all, and what quicker way to snuff the pain than to rush a phalanx of Chinese combat troops. Book of The Dead indeed.

The Lama may feel powerless, but plenty of American talking heads and news outlets are blasting China with predictable slams, so predictable that they instantly evaporate. What more can U.S. elites say about the Chinese state? Besides, it's all a choreographed dance. The U.S. relies heavily on China's economic support, and the Chinese value the American market. Barring some catastrophic event, this tidy arrangement isn't going to be rocked by routine denunciations of human rights abuses. Besides, I bet the Chinese leadership finds American "outrage" amusing. If I were in their shoes, I certainly would.

Speaking of amusing American umbrage, the New York Times recently tilted up its nose at China, exhibiting the usual disdain:

"China had a chance to shine for its Olympic coming-out party and is blowing it. Its leaders will continue to have to battle protests and unrest — and endure international approbation — until they ensure more freedom for all their citizens, including greater religious tolerance and freedom for Tibet."

Bad China! Don't you know that freedom and religious tolerance are your only real hope for social calm?

Take us for example. When the U.S. hosted the Summer Games in 1984, we weren't cracking down on Tibetan Buddhists. We were slaughtering Central American Christians, among other groupings, via our client armies and security forces. Scores of them. Rivers choked with mutilated bodies. Mass graves. The whole bloody bit. The key difference is that we were bringing them freedom and religious tolerance. This is why our Olympics went so smoothly (helped by the Soviet Bloc boycott, but hey, they were invited!). You, China, are cracking down because you hate freedom. Now, what kind of coming-out party is that gonna be?