Actually, I had trekked to the
But there was no time to meditate on spiritual serendipity as a scowling Chinese grad student almost knocked me over with his floppy, sloppily scrawled sign: “Dalai Lama – 50 years of CIA funding isn’t enough for you.” He was one of about 500 “dissidents” waiving Chinese flags outside the arena.
Now I have to admit, I’m always a bit shocked to see demonstrations by non-lefties. The unions, the hippies, MoveOn.org - these guys are pros, coming armed with professionally printed placards, a killer sound system and even creepy lifelike puppets to make their point. They know how to set the mood of righteous indignation and usually throw a cool afterhours party to boot.
Within the choreographed affair, there are usually scores of sincere folks dedicated to largely admirable ideals and causes. They’re out there exercising their right to assemble and fighting the good fight while we’re at home catching up on soul-rotting episodes of “Paradise Hotel 2.”
But when your protest slogans essentially are, “We love torture” and “Murder rocks,” it kind of kills the vibe.
Look, the idea of blasting a spiritual icon who won the Nobel Peace Prize is somewhat disconcerting. But when you stop to consider that 1.2 million Tibetans have died since the Chinese invaded in 1949, it becomes mindblowing.
Some protesters were there solely in support of the summer Olympics in
But most were citizen-bots content to pass out colorful pamphlets promising “the beginning of wisdom” by telling the truth about
As someone who covers politics for a living, I know a snow job when I see one. These kinds of conspiracy theories sprout like fungus in a stale, stark environment, where the government maintains a closed system of information even while opening its markets.
And many of these Abercrombie-clad protesters clutching their iPhones couldn’t care less. As long as they’re free to make plenty of yuan, why should they? And who are those uppity Tibetans to get in their way?
This, of course, is the mantra of Western companies, intoxicated by the prospect of paying Chinese workers three cents an hour to make Lead Dreams Barbie for our little ones to lick.
The most hilarious part of the brochure was when it stiltedly admonished, “Principles of Journalism require news organizations to commit loyalty to its citizens. The coverage should not be slanted for friends or advertisers and should represent all constituent groups in society.”
Nothing like being lectured on ethics by Big Brother. If journalists were to slant coverage to mollify our advertisers, I reckon we’d do nothing but puff pieces on how cheap plastic trinkets from
Media outlets, by the way, gave extremely sanitized coverage to the demonstrators, perhaps feeling it was in bad taste to point out
Inside, the Dalai Lama spoke to more than 8,000 souls about the growing gulf between rich and poor and sustaining our planet. He touched barely touched on politics, except to say, “If you have a Green Party, I want to join it” (and not in the Ralph Nader sense).
The Buddhist leader also made light of his persona, chuckling, “There are people who believe I have some sort of healing powers - and that’s absolute nonsense.”
The saddest thing was, I didn’t see one protester venture inside to hear what the Dalai Lama had to say. Several yawned at the idea when I interviewed them, evidently content to scream outside and pass out propaganda rather than actually listen to the man and judge for themselves.
That’s flaunting the kind of flagrant ignorance a college campus is supposed to cure. Talk about some folks in need of enlightenment.