Natasha Yefimov of the New York Times selected some comments on Nicholas Kristof's blog entry «Grace Wang and Chinese Nationalism», my comments included. (无忌 thinks there’s an intentional distortion of truth in the Western media coverage.)

Nationalism has been used to describe Chinese a lot lately. So it was interesting to read «The Color of Loyalty» in the latest issue of the Time. In this viewpoint article by Michael Eric Dyson, a sociology professor at Georgetown University, I read for the first time that Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's former pastor, "surrendered his student deferment in 1961, voluntarily joined the Marines and, after a two-year stint, volunteered to become a Navy corpsman. He excelled and became valedictorian, later a cardiopulmonary technician and eventually a member of the President's medical team. Wright cared for Lyndon B. Johnson after his 1966 surgery, earning three White House letters of commendation."

In the case of Grace Wang, I have not gone reading much on Chinese websites to see what have been posted. I believe there are probably death threats to her and her family -- there are shameless people in China just like anywhere else in the world. But I seriously doubt that any of those posters, many likely anonymous, has the guts to act on the threat. I have, just for the heck of it, gone on YouTube to read a couple of pages of the comments on some Jeremiah Wright videos posted there. I don't want to repeat any of the trash I have read. It suffice to say there are threats there as well.

In the same issue of Time, there is also an article by Simon Elegant from Beijing. The author also writes on Time's China Blog. In the article, Mr. Elegant painted the nationalism of China so imminently dangerous, I couldn't help but wonder, why has he not pulled his family out of there yet? His resentment of Chinese shows clearly in his writings. It is hard to fathom why he lives there. After all, the salary he is paid does not possibly make it worthwhile living among "goons and thugs" (Mr. Jack Cafferty of CNN) and risking his life.

A comment on the Grace Wang incident from Yoshi, who sees a victim complex may have some truth to it, even though it may have come from a Japanese. It is probably much easier to see a victim complex from a victimizer's stand point than the other way around. But I have a hard time accepting the argument that the Chinese should just "put their past behind them" when much of Japan to this day does not even acknowledge what had happened in Nanjing 72 years ago. I for one, would not likely to forget the "Eight-Nation Alliance", as I am reminded of it every time I go to the Palace Museum in Beijing.


Rethinking "Human Rights"

First thing first, the guy in this image I saw earlier today stole my idea. Now it's out there, I can only say, if some one starts a fund for the cause, I will donate 1 cent a day.

The events and media reporting in the last few weeks got me reading a lot and thinking quite a bit at the same time. Today, a bunch of friends had a dinner party. The gents naturally leaned towards discussion of politics and social issues. It makes me rethink the term Human Rights a bit.

A lot has been discussed. Human rights is often spoken as an absolute term, somewhat like the word God. Yet, like most, if not all, things of the human world, rarely do we see anything that is absolutely this or that. It could be my ignorance. But it seems worth rethinking about human rights itself. There will need to be a lot of research. I think I could get bored and simply let go of what I want to write about.


Listening to the Dalai Lama

I went to the Peter Wege lecture today at the University of Michigan Crisler Arena today. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was the guest speaker. At first, I was underwhelmed. In the end, he came across to me as a decent human being judging from what he said in the two hours.

It got me thinking, how has this old Tibetan monk, with his incoherent English with no "grammar rules" as he admitted, become such a spiritual figure to so many people? The mystery of Tibetan Buddhism is part of it. His simplified messages about Buddhism and human nature are the other and larger part. His talks present him as a human that a lay person can easily accept, more so than any propaganda from the Chinese leaders or the lies and media spins from the American leaders. At the very least, he obviously has learned the happenings in the modern world. Today, He talked about global warming, overpopulation, over consumption, Christianity, even the poor in Washington D.C.

There were a large number of Chinese protesting outside the arena. I admit being on that side, agreeing the Beijing Olympics should not be taken hostage by any political group, and Tibet should remain an integral part of China. So my thoughts may be considered biased.

Thought one: Media in the west just don't get it. Not to mention the right wing extremists, even NPR does not quite get it. It may be hard to understand how a nation can get so emotional when others threaten to take the moment away from its people. But it is not impossible. One just need to go to the country and observe with an open mind how much effort ordinary people have put into the preparation for the games. Many may disagree with the government about hosting the Olympics. Many would rant and express their strong disagreement because the hardship of hosting the games bring to the people. But all that changes when others try to take the Olympics away from them. That is different. Call it nationalism or whatever, taking something away from a people that they believe (rightfully) is theirs can only meet with resentment. The gentleman in blue shirt was telling someone, "Most of these people (the protesters) don't even know why there are here." He didn't know how wrong he was. Most of the passers-by probably don't care much about right or wrong either in this matter.

Thought two: China needs to open up more. Be tolerant of political dissent. There is really no benefit for the government to shut people up. There is no shame in letting the world know about the problems in the country. When the outside world learn about China, they don't just see the dark side, they will learn the bright side, too. I think that is also part of why China is hosting the Olympics this year.

Thought three: The western media really need to clean up their act. I guess it may be difficult for them to get to Tibet. But has any media outlet made a serious effort to get there? Why would they rather rely on what the Tibetans outside the country told them what happened there? It is obvious to me that Tibet is not important enough for most of them to get the facts right. The person in this picture repeatedly screamed, "Open the door!" There were foreigners in Lhasa at the time of the riots, including jornalists, just not enough of those who can stand on their own to tell what truly happened.

Thought four: The 14th Dalai Lama is a capable and smart politician, maybe even more so than he is a spiritual person. I admire him for that. I think I can understand his frustrations: He is getting old, old enough for him to see death coming. He has been in exile for almost half a century. As a human being, he wants to go home. I believe he also sees reality. I am guessing it's probably those surrounding him that can not let go of the past and dream to go back to Tibet one day to rule over the people like they did in the past. The Dalai Lama talked much about "sustainability" -- although he admitted he could not pronounce that word, -- I don't believe the Tibetan society can sustain the monastery ruling structure. Tibetans may have changed enough that the monks will no longer be able to put much of the population under serfdom/slavery. On one hand, if the Dalai Lama dies in exile, the whole Tibetan exile community will face a huge dilemma. On the other hand, it is in the interest of China to find a political solution to the Tibet Question given the fact that many Tibetans do take the Dalai Lama as their spiritual leader.

Last thought: Tibetans are humans. They should be treated as humans with all their good, bad and ugly qualities. I don't buy the claim that any particular ethnicity is born peaceful, cruel, honest or untrustworthy. This person in Tibetan clothing in the center of this picture told me, in fluent English, that he was born in Tibet to a very poor peasant family, that he had been in exile for five years and he learned English in India and here in the US. I don't want to judge him in anyway. But I must say he is a lot smarter than I am. He must be super lucky to have such radiant skin tone after at least 15 years of harsh life in Tibet.


International Night

Went to the International Night at kid's elementary school. It was quite fun for the kids. I met an old gentleman from Pakistan who worked in their Embassy in Beijing in the 70's. He had good feelings towards China.

An old couple, likely from Palestine, asked the small group of us Chinese there, what is that China want from Tibet. I honestly could not think of anything materially significant. We told them that China just wants Tibet since Tibet was a part of China. Even though there have been many variables in the history between the two peoples. But the history is not like that of the Middle East, between Palestine and Israel. After hearing us, they said that side of the story had not been told. Indeed.

Tibet has been part of China since the 1300's. I am guessing the weakness of that society of the past probably had much to do with its structure besides the harsh natural environment conditions. I can only guess how much it took the whole society to feed all those number of monks. For those who were in the monastery system, life might not be bad. But for those at the bottom of the society who had to carry all the burden for producing, feeding and caring for the monasteries, I can not even begin to imagine how heavy the load must have been.

It simply is no surprise that one would prefer to sit on his butt and pray all day if all possible. It is no surprise that there are people who want a "free Tibet" that allow them to do just that. But judging from history, a "free Tibet" is simply an open invitation for the world powers to go in there to assert their influence for their own interests instead of Tibetans'. Just look at what the CIA did in Tibet in the 50's, I really wonder how the Tibetans in exile could bring themselves to seek support in the US government. They are so obviously expendable in those Americans' eyes.

It is also no surprise that, while much of Europe are joining the Union, the west is so bent on splitting China apart. Like we Americans say, "united we stand". That same thing is true for any people of the world. Imagine if the nations of the Middle East were united, would the Iraq war happen? Maybe yes, but more likely not.


"China demands apology from Cafferty"

Reading «China demands apology from Cafferty» is like reading a bad joke which is supposed to be funny but really not.

Mr. Jack looks depressed on TV lately for some unknown reason. He is on CNN to be a foul mouth, probably, to offend anyone he happens to want to for the day, sometimes for no apparent reason as I have seen him being rude on camera to his female colleagues. Otherwise, it defies logic that CNN would let him on the air.

The piece on CNN linked above shows the level of arrogance an American establishment could possibly reach. I don't know "where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart." Certainly not anywhere in China that I know of.

CNN states:
He issued a clarification of his remarks on Monday's "Situation Room," saying that by "goons and thugs," he meant the Chinese government, not the Chinese people. It was unclear whether China's Foreign Ministry was aware of the clarification when it held the Tuesday news conference.
Nice try on CNN's part to play the victim here. But such word manipulation sounds to me like calling the thousands and thousands Iraqi civilians killed collateral damage. They are dead. Does it really matter what you call them?

I don't watch much TV. But I have kept CNN on my Dish Network subscription. Maybe it is time to cancel that subscription.


"An Incovenient Truth"

I watched Al Gore's movie yesterday. It was very interesting, informational and inspiring.

In the movie, Al Gore made the now famous joke, which went like this:
I am Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States.
Come to think of it, the joke is on us. We had a chance to make an intelligent choice, to make certain progress in the society. Yet, the opportunity passed us by. We ended up in a totally different direction. Now thousands are dead, tens of thousands are wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are killed, many hundreds of thousands are rendered into refugees. The US economy is in the ditches. People are being foreclosed out of their houses bought in those boom years. What an enormous joke!

Critics of Al Gore seem to come from all corners of life. I remember reading in an IT magazine an article from an editor, calling Al Gore a hypocrite because he has a big mansion in Tennessee. But then it seems that not many people question the data Al Gore presented in his slide show. So even if Al Gore is a hypocrite as his critics claim, that is irrelevant to the ugly truth we all have to face: The climate has been and is being changed dramatically. We will all be affected if we sit on our hands and just let things happen the way corporate America wants.


Tibet (7)

Just read «The Snow Lion and the Dragon -- China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama» by Melvyn C. Goldstein. A great narrative of a brief history of Tibet and its relationship with China.

When Dalai Lama comes to Ann Arbor, I would really like to ask him two questions:

  1. He has announced to the world his aim for Tibet, which is not to seek independence but more (a lot more) autonomy. What is his strategy to reach that end goal?

  2. The United States prides itself for its diversity as a national strength. Does he think that is also true for Tibet?


Tibet (6)

Got to Calling China by Nicholas D. Kristof somehow. I was going to read all the comments. But there were so many of them, I only got as far as number 40 after a whole day. :-)

It's a hot discussion.

Then there is Tom Doctoroff's Tibet, Beijing and Olympic Sponsors: To Boycott or Not. Haven't read the whole thing yet but it seems to be an interesting piece.

Looks like my Tibet study is going to continue.