the scene: I'm in my local health food store when my eyes are drawn to
the cover of the latest issue of New York Yoga magazine.
Smiling at me is none other than the Dalai Lama. Inside, "His
Holiness" spouts boilerplate platitudes like, "If we do love our
enemies, we shall cease to have enemies, and wouldn't the world be a
much happier place if we could all be friends?" Let's be honest here,
the same exact line, if spoken by a ten-year-old child, might elicit a
Also in this article, the Tibetan leader
was asked how he was able to "deal with the Chinese who had taken so
much from his people." His response was pure Dalai: "We may be
different on the outside; but on the inside, we are all the same. We
all seek happiness and an end to suffering."
Here's what I'm wondering: Who, exactly, designated the Dalai Lama as
a conduit of wisdom... and why? And while we're at it, let's put to
rest the myth that the Dalai Lama is an innocent bystander and his
fellow Tibetans are all pacifists.
We can start by going way back to a January 25, 1997 piece in the
Chicago Tribune entitled "The CIA's secret war in Tibet." This
uncommon bit of corporate media candor declared: "Little about the
CIA's skullduggery in the Himalayas is a real secret anymore except
maybe to the U.S. taxpayers who bankrolled it." Make that: U.S.
taxpayers and the entertainment world's financial elite who are
suckered in by the Dalai Lama's little boy grin, esoteric lectures,
and pacific persona.
(Side note: We can also put to the rest the myth that the public would
wake up if the corporate media published the truth. It's been nearly a
decade since the Tribune article and Mr. Lama is more popular
Obscured by the predominantly superficial media coverage is the
reality that, before the Chinese invasion, "His Holiness" ruled over a
harsh feudal serfdom with the proverbial iron fist. As reported by
Gary Wilson in Workers World, "While most of the population lived in
extreme poverty, the Dalai Lama lived richly in the 1000-room,
14-story Potala Palace." Even the omnipresent holy man himself admits
to owning slaves during his reign.
In 1959, when the Dalai Lama packed up his riches and escaped into
neighboring India, the CIA set up and trained an army of Tibetan
contras. Potential recruits were asked only one, rather un-Zen-like
question by Air Force pilots working with the Agency: "Do you want to
kill Chinese?" The guerrillas were actually trained on US soil and
then airdropped into Tibet by what the Tribune calls, "American
pilots who would later carry out operations in Laos and Cambodia
during the Vietnam War."
Yeah, those guys.
So, how did His Holiness and His Posse manage such paradoxical
behavior? Lend an ear to what Jamyang Norbu, a prominent Tibetan
intellectual, informed the Tribune: "For years, the only way
Tibetans could get a hearing in the world's capitals was to emphasize
our spirituality and helplessness. Tibetans who pick up rifles don't
fit into the romantic image we've built up in the Westerner's heads."
And it works. If you don't believe me, ask R.E.M. lead singer Michael
Stipe. He believes the Tibetans have "done it peacefully, without
raising swords. No matter what hardship these people were under, they
would not raise a hand against the enemy."
Wilson's characterization in Workers World presents a slightly
different perspective: "The prevalence of anti-communism as a near
religion in the United States has made it easy to sell slave masters
as humanitarians. The Dalai Lama is not much different from the former
slave owners of the Confederate South."
While the Chicago Tribune claimed that the U. S. government's
support for Tibet's spiritual contras ended in the 1970s, former CIA
agent Ralph McGehee told Workers World that the Agency was "a
prime mover behind the . . . 1990s campaign promoting the cause of the
Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence." McGehee cites the Dalai Lama's
eldest brother, a businessman named Gyalo Thondup, as the key player
in this operation.
"Violence is unpredictable," the Dalai Lama announced last year,
before adding: "In the case of Afghanistan, perhaps there's something
positive. In Iraq, it's too early to tell." He confessed to having
conflicted feelings over the U.S. invasion of Iraq, before declaring,
"history would decide."
Uh . . . hello Dalai, but most of us have already decided.
is the author of several books, most recently 50
American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation
Books). He can be found on the Web at:
Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth by Michael Parenti
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