Monday, March 10, 2008

Our Part in China's Legacy

Americans, myself included, like to discuss and support embargoes and boycotts.

Most Americans don't know why there is an embargo against the people of Cuba, except that Fidel Castro is a "communist." Most Americans don't even know what that means, and are so moved by the mainstream media hysteria that they cannot see that the only people who have been hurt by our Cuban embargo are the citizens of that island nation: mostly people with a Euro-centric heritage (like us), a huge percentage of whom are religious people (mostly Christians), ordinary, hard-working people just like people in the rest of the Americas. Our leaders and the mainstream media drudge on and on about the embargo (which has been a failure, after all) and the United States citizens just ignore the ramification except to lash-out against "communism" when they hear buzz words like "Castro," "revolution," "socialized medicine," and "Bay of Pigs."

The rest of the civilized world (that is, all of our allies) do business with Cuba. All of them. They vacation in Cuba. They exchange scientific, medical, military, and cultural information. Still, Americans cling to this embargo and the evils of Fidel Castro as if there is some moral or practical reason to punish the Cuban people because of their place of birth.

On the other hand, the United States has forged iron-clad bonds with China, a nation that practices repression on a daily basis in a systematic way. China has attacked and occupied neighboring countries, murdering, plundering, and sending leaders into exile. They enslave their own people in factory/prisons generating profits that benefit a tiny number of military and government leaders. They ban religion and free thought, dialog and expression.

American lawyers, bankers, investment firms, and manufacturers have flooded into China to get a piece of the action, while on the Western frontier of that nation, the military continues to occupy, torture and enslave the Tibetan people, and the sovereign nation of Nepal sits quaking in its boots knowing they will likely be next.

To the north, Mongolia stays in line, knowing that it is a matter of time before they are absorbed into the ugly profit-machine that is the Peoples Republic of China.

Nepal and Mongloia know that the United States, having done nothing about the occupation of Tibet, will do nothing if China moves against them. And the American people, relying on Fox, Disney, Viacom, Time-Warner, and General Electric, to provide them the only information they know how to absorb, will simply ignore the incidents.

Of course, there are a tiny number of people around the world, including some very famous and rich people, who have spoken-out on behalf of Tibet and the Dalai Lama, the political leader of the Tibetan people and global spiritual leader of many. These people are usually ignored by the mainstream media, and remarks about Tibet are relegated to sidebars or discussions of religion or reviews of benefit concerts. Western government, led by the United States, ignore the plight of the Tibetan people; and Americans (the most powerful society in the world) say nothing.

Step forward, now, Bjork, Icelandic singer of international fame. At her performance in Shanghai last week, Bjork ended her show (as she has many shows) with the song "Declare Independence."

At her Tokyo concert last month, Bjork ended the song with a statement in support of the newly-independent nation of Kosovo, which exists after years of repression, because Western nations (led by the United States) decided to acknowledge it as an autonomous society.

In Shangai, last week, she she shouted "Tibet!" This has angered the repressive government of China (one of your strongest allies -- yes yours) and they have announced that they will "be stricter on foreign performers" in the future.

Is this the sort of nation you want to support? A nation that places restrictions on the free expression of music and opinions?

Well, this is a nation you do support more than any other nation in the world. In fact, it is quite possible that you give more money to China's economy than you pay in taxes to your own government (and not just my American readers -- you Brits, and other Europeans, too). Look at the labels of your clothes, and the "Made in" stamp of your electronics and appliances, then add up the cost of all these items you have purchased or received as a gift (be sure to amortize any large ticket item over three years, so you can get a real sense of the numbers). Then look at last year's tax statement, subtract any tax refund, abatement or rebate you've received, then compare the two numbers. I think many working people (that is, middle-class people) will find they have spent more money supporting the repressive economy (and therefore the government) of China than they have paid in taxes to support their own nation.

Think about it.

Or don't.

This from AP via Yahoo!:

China stricter after Bjork's Tibet chant
Fri Mar 7, 7:20 AM ET

China will be stricter on foreign performers after Icelandic singer Bjork shouted "Tibet! Tibet!" at the end of her concert in Shanghai this week, the government said Friday.

A statement by China's Culture Ministry said Bjork's outburst "broke Chinese law and hurt Chinese people's feelings."

Bjork shouted "Tibet!" after a passionate performance of her song "Declare Independence" on Sunday. The outburst drew rare public attention inside China to Beijing's often harsh rule over the Himalayan region.

The statement, posted on the Culture Ministry's Web site, also said "there is no country that admits that Tibet is an 'independent country.'"

Bjork has performed the song to support other independence movements in the past. She dedicated the song to Kosovo while performing last month in Japan. The lyrics include the phrase "Raise your flag!"

China's 58-year rule over Tibet has drawn frequent condemnation from foreign governments and activists, often inciting a prickly nationalism among the Chinese government and ordinary people. Many Tibetans consider the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as their rightful leader.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2008 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Reprinted without permission

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Declare Independence

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