Here's 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 patronizing smile.
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 that, "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 than ever.)
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.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.