Tibet and the Olympics: one reader writes

Our May issue featured William Wharton‘s book review of A Tibetan Revolutionary, memoirs of Bapa Phuntso Wangye—a Chinese Communist Party militant who became a dissident and advocate of autonomy for his native Tibet. Our May Exit Poll was: “Will Tibet explode again during the Beijing Olympics? Is there potential for an alliance between the Tibetans and Han Chinese workers and peasants against the Beijing bureaucracy? How about between the Tibetans and the Palestinians?” We received the following response:

From Joe Wetmore of Autumn Leaves Used Books in Ithaca, NY:

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? I think the real question is not will there be protests in Tibet during the Olympics, but whether China can hide them.

World War 4 Report replies: Your cynicism is vindicated by the fact that you are the sole respondent to our Exit Poll this month! Does the fact that all these movie stars have glommed on to the Tibetan issue paradoxically make it less fashionable? Sharon Stone‘s on the case, we don’t have to worry. International Tibet coverage rapidly deteriorated from at least an effort to get out news of the repression despite China’s media ban, to the spectacle of global protests around the Olympic torch, to nothing at all. Meanwhile, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy continues to document nightmarish repression. But nobody is longer paying attention.

Is anyone else out there?

See our last post on Tibet, and our last Exit Poll results.

  1. You have a fan on Alternet
    Part of a comment left on your Tibet piece:

    syed salamah ali mahdi
    [Report this comment] Posted by: salamah on May 15, 2008 12:22 PM
    Current rating: Not yet rated [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
    When I saw the name of the author of this opinion piece, Weisman,I immediately exclaimed, here we go again,YET ANOTHER ZIONIST. However, after reading his opinion, I was pleasantly surprised to find he still remembered Palestinians, East Turkestanis and the ‘native’ Indians in South America. Thank you Mr. Weisman, whoever you are and whatever you are!

    1. You don’t think I noticed, Sherlock?
      I replied:

      RE: syed salamah ali mahdi
      [Report this comment]
      Posted by: Bill Weinberg on May 16, 2008 12:13 AM
      Current rating: Not yet rated [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]
      My name is Weinberg not Weisberg, and I am curious why you think my ethnicity should reveal anything about my politics.


      The above post in my opinion constitutes “racist or hateful language.” But I do not call for removing it. Better to get this ugliness out in the open where it can be confronted.

        1. “Legit point”?
          What’s a “legit point”? That this kneejerk Zionist-baiting constitutes “racist or hateful language”? Thank you for this generous concession!

  2. China
    The Chinese, and by this I mean the bulk of the Chinese people not just the government, don’t care what you, I, Sharon Stone, Richard Gere, the sum total of all the foreign Free Tibet activists in the world or The Pentagon think about Tibet, the Taiwan Strait, Falun Gong, global warming or floating the Yuan. Now obviously I haven’t taken a sampling and was only there once 10 years ago but given my interactions with the man (and women) on the street during that time and a random sampling of international MSM coverage I suspect my above statement is true. There is a real ‘on the team’ and ‘proud of China’ and ‘the west always disrespects China’ sentiment that ran (runs) very deep on the street. China labor watch is an interesting site about what may be bubbling under, but I never got the feeling that the locals were all that interested in outside opinions about how they should run their affairs, though they were interested in foreign pop culture and fashion, etc …

    1. So?
      If they don’t care what the world thinks, why did they agree to talk with the Dalai Lama’s representatives? Anyway, your average ugly American may not care what the rest of the world thinks about what our government is doing in Iraq. Does that mean we shouldn’t protest it?

      1. protest all you want
        The Chinese government cares about what the rest of the world thinks (though I doubt they lay awake at night worrying about Richard Gere), above post was about the mainstream Chinese people who in my opinion generally want foreigners to stay out of their internal affairs.

        Protest whoever and whatever you want. US citizens protesting US policies in the US may have a (slightly) larger chance of influencing the powers that be. It’s great to worry about fixing Tibet, made easier as our actions and opinions are irrelevant. What about fixing Newark, fixing LA, that f#*king border fence? Those problems are closer to home but a lot less glamorous. Where does Richard Gere stand on the issue of the border fence? Can we get some movie stars on it? Activists spending their energy on glamorous issues across the world while real problems exist a short bus trip away seems like dodging the hard issues to me.

        (above is rhetorical, I’m well aware this site is on the above issues)

        1. Well, if you notice…
          …this website has reported plenty on the border fence, as well as Newark and Los Angeles. So I think we’ve earned the right to “worry about fixing” Tibet. We have nothing but disdain for the movie-star bandwagon element of the Free Tibet movement. But that doesn’t mean the Tibetans aren’t entitled to some solidarity from the outside world. Especially when the fruits of Chinese slave-labor can be bought cheap in Newark and LA.

          1. solidarity forever
            I agree the Tibetans deserve some solidarity, though I suspect the Chinese government meeting with the Dalai Lama is purely a photo op with neither side expecting anything tangible to emerge. The Chinese slave laborers deserve solidarity too (see above labor link), though counter-intuitively a labor led boycott of the slave labor goods would most likely be taken by a majority of the slave laborers themselves as a slap in the face of China. That doesn’t mean a disruption of the global consumer goods supply chain would be anything less than a really good idea.

            1. Photo op?
              The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported May 5 it was a closed-door meeting. I didn’t see any photos of it, did you? I’m not saying anything will come of the talks, but it was clearly a capitulation to global pressure.

              We’ve also given the Chinese slave laborers the solidarity of covering them, and cited China Labor Watch. We’ve heard the same kind of claims against them that we hear against the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy—that they’re co-opted by the State Department or AFL-CIO. They still have good information.

              A global divide-and-conquer trip is the essence of the state system, as we’ve said before. Overcoming it is not going to be easy. This website hopes to at least start the discussion within the American left.