OK, you know what I’m 100% sick of? The free hand with which militaristic regimes assault Buddhist monks and nuns. Because this is what set off the riots in Lhasa. The Tibetan laypeople couldn’t stand by and watch paramilitary cops in riot gear whale on ordained sangha yet again. No sane person could blame them, or argue that they have not exercised unbelievable self-control up to this point.
I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood in New Jersey. It was very Italian, very male. Such things don’t seem to be talked about much anymore, but we had clear masculine codes of conduct. Where I’m from, a supreme masculine virtue is to use one’s strength in defense of the weak. Those who made a habit of preying upon, and unleashing violence on, those weaker than themselves were seen as deeply cowardly, unmanly. We had a word for them: chickenshit. We'd just spit it out when we talked about people like that. Chickenshit. And we knew that some day, some way, they had it coming.
This is the word, Buddha forgive me, that’s come to me again and again watching the nastiness unfold in Tibet: the Chinese forces there, and their leadership, are totally chickenshit.
UPDATE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a study in courage and my new heroine. France, my birthplace, gets an honorable mention. Prince Charles and the British leadership are officially chickenshit (um, hmm, which is it?). The Russian leadership, in my New Jersey parlance, have gone way, way beyond chickenshit and are the worst of the worst: rat bastards.
What courage does it take to beat down or murder a monk, to torture a nun? How low have you slid toward total barbarism when these are the policies you enforce (and I’m looking at you, too, Burma, as well as your unrepentant Chinese enablers) within a land that you have stolen? This photo shows a monk killed two days ago in Ngaba, a village in the Amdo province of Tibet. This and more were provided to Students for a Free Tibet -- warning, very graphic and disturbing images.
(Oh, and dig this: as if monks and nuns weren’t enough, the Chinese forces are viciously beating and jailing schoolchildren)
And how willfully ignorant and impossibly arrogant can you possibly remain about the culture of the people whose land you invaded nearly sixty years ago? Today I read a piece in the New York Times entitled “Simmering Resentments Led to Tibetan Backlash.” The whole article’s excellent, but this is what jumped out at me, especially the bit I’ve put in bold:
“Meanwhile, Beijing has steadily been taking a tougher line on religious practices and cultural expressions of Tibetan pride. In November 2005, Zhang Qingli was appointed Communist Party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Mr. Zhang came from the Communist Youth League organization, part of the political stronghold of Mr. Hu. Mr. Zhang has made no attempt to disguise his paternal attitude toward his charges.
“ ‘The Communist Party is like the parent to the Tibetan people, and it is always considerate about what the children need,’ Mr. Zhang said last year. He later added: ‘The Central Party Committee is the real Buddha for Tibetans.’
“Robert Barnett, a Tibet specialist at Columbia University, said Mr. Zhang had taken a tough line. Tibetan government employees faced periodic requirements to write denunciations of the Dalai Lama. Mr. Zhang reintroduced a policy that forbade Tibetan students and government workers from visiting monasteries or participating in religious ceremonies or festivals.
By 2006, Mr. Zhang had revived an ‘anti-Dalai’ campaign and intensified ‘patriotic education’ at Buddhist monasteries. Monks are now required to attend long sessions listening to recitations of China’s interpretation of Tibetan history and also denounce the Dalai Lama.
“ ‘The party must surely know these monks are not going to change their minds’ about the Dalai Lama, said Tsering Wangdu Shakya, a Tibet expert at the University of British Columbia. ‘So the whole point of the meetings is to intimidate the monks.’ ”
The Central Party Committee is the real Buddha for Tibetans?! Have you ever heard anything so tone deaf in your life? I’m telling you, if I were in a monastery, trying to refine my understanding of, say, the subtle Madhyamika view of relative and ultimate truth, and I had to sit and listen to this kind of rotten drivel day in and day out? I might be at risk of hurling a rock or two myself. "Intimidate the monks." Chickenshit.
Like I said. This chickenshit Chinese government didn’t deserve the Olympics, and it was just a matter of time before they showed the world why. And now the best their chickenshit leaders can do is blame His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the most non-violent person on the face of this Earth, for fomenting the violence. Please, boycott this Olympics, express yourself to the sponsors, the IOC, local Chinese embassies. Be men (and women, I mean get in touch with your noble masculine side). Make it known that it is thoroughly chickenshit and not OK to bring brutal force to bear on monks and nuns, the very symbols of virtue and peace and ethical discipline in this world.
Oh, while I’m ranting, let’s consider China’s good friend India. Yes, India, thank you for taking in so many Tibetan refugees. Sincerely. But would it kill you to let a peaceful march of unarmed people go forward without hauling them off and incarcerating them? I have been to your country and I know that you revere your own Mahatma Gandhi as a saint. Without his marches, would you even have the country you enjoy today? Have you totally forgotten such recent lessons in your struggle against an arrogant colonizer? Man, what irony.
I also haven’t heard one peep out of Mongolia, even from the monasteries, but to be fair I don’t read the Mongol media. The tepid words from my own country are, regrettably, about what I’ve come to expect from the current moral pygmies in power.
Happier news is coming on DODR later this week, promise. But I have just had it up to here seeing news these past few months about monks and nuns trying to exercise peaceful dissent while those in power showing no compunction about cracking their skulls wide open, or worse. It has got to stop and it has got to stop now.
The comments have gone pretty silent. I mean, are y'all with me on this, or what?
Here's something simple you can do right now: send a letter to the IOC urging that Tibet be removed from the Olympic Torch Relay route.