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Everywhere I go these days, I see these FREE TIBET stickers, complete with the rising sun shooting multicolored rays over the big bold letters. And sure, Tibet should be free.. China shouldn't hold an independent people captive. But really.. the whole thing smacks of hypocrisy. Why? Because the United States has inholdings of the same type. Lots of them. Believe it or not, there were other people here before us white people. And, because China has oppressed the Tibetans a little bit more recently, does that give us the right to complain? Really, 200 years isn't THAT long.

There are lots of Native American cultures still intact. It could be argued that all of them should be free of US intervention. But the Navajo, or Dinee as they call themselves, are among the largest. They have an enormous reservation in New Mexico and Arizona... bigger than most states. And their culture is still largely intact. The Navajo are survivors.. their philosophy is to live in harmony with their surroundings. They have encountered much suffering in the form of the harsh desert, invasion by the Spanish, and later by the Americans. But they survived, in good enough shape to use their language as code in WW2, and still live in the southwest much as they always have. Sadly, they are largely impoverished because their way of life has been tainted by the good ol' United States

So... while I certainly think Tibet has the right to be free, like any other group, I feel like a hypocrite to run around preaching about it. But if I ever find a 'Free Dinee' bumper sticker, you know that'll end up on my bumper.


Thanks to Zeolite for pointing out that it is the BIA, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, that controls the Navajo Reservation and all the other ones as well, and it is this organization that we should focus on.
Hobyrne: the point wasn't that we should wish ill on Tibet. The point is that we (meaning those E2 users who are US Citizens) don't really have room to criticize China for committing sins we commit as well. For instance, if China were to criticize the US for events in Seattle during the protests, no one would take them seriously as they have committed equal or worse atrocities themselves. Tibet should be allowed to do what they please, but all we can do is hope that China learns from the mistakes the US made.

as for the node title, if someone with 'ops' wishes to change it, be my guest.

I do not disagree with the sentiment (the broad message of Inyo's writeup above), but I do disagree with the expression (the inappropriate node title and some of the details). For example, along the same theme, one can just as eaily say…
Fuck the Navajo, abolish the death penalty.
Fuck the death penalty, fix the welfare system.
Fuck the welfare system, get me a glass of milk.
Fuck your milk, disassemble all the nuclear arms.
Fuck the nuclear arms, etc.

I try to demonstrate two things: first, that putting down one worthy cause in order to try and elevate another is always a bad idea, because the other can be put down just as easily by someone with a small enough mind. To attempt to raise someone's concern for one issue by belittling another has the effect of numbing that person to any concern at all, - it's counterproductive in the long run. Second, it's not necessary to put down any cause - I want a glass of milk and nuclear disarmament. I'll get a drink when I'm thirsty, and I'll do what I can for disarmament when it's possible and appropriate for me to do that.

Inyo writes "So... while I certainly think Tibet has the right to be free, like any other group, I feel like a hypocrite to run around preaching about it". I utterly fail to understand this sentence. You believe in something - and you think it's hypocrisy to say that you believe it?    No.    Just, flat-out no. If you believe in something and say it, that is honesty, there is precisely zero hypocrisy in that. If you believe in something and say the opposite, that's hypocrisy. If you believe in something and actively avoid saying it, well, that smacks of hypocrisy too.

If you believe that the Dinee issue is more important than the Tibet issue, or believe it should be given more attention, then it is hypocrisy to spend all of your time preaching about Tibet. If you perpetually stick to the subject of Tibet, when there are opportunities to mention the Dinee, that would be actually obscuring your belief on the Dinee issue. This is an instance of believing in something and actively avoiding saying it. So do not spend all of your time preaching about Tibet. But if you believe the Tibet issue is important at all, it is also hypocrisy to go out of your way to spend none of your time preaching on it. This is another instance of believing in something and actively avoiding saying it. The middle ground is - say that you wish the Navajo to be free, when it is appropriate to say that. Say that you wish the Tibetans to be free, when it is appropriate to say that. Many times, when one is appropriate, the other is too - but not always. But to purpously be silent on one cause, simply because you believe in another cause more - this simply harms the 'lesser' cause with no benefit for the 'greater'.

All that last paragraph is on how you choose to spend your time. To encourage others to be silent or to deny one worthy cause, just because you believe another (compatible) cause is even more worthy; this is active and malicious hypocrisy. (Just so there's no doubt, "Fuck Tibet" is an imperative. "Fuck Tibet" is asking the reader/listener to do something - specifically, in this case, to deny the importance of Chinese affairs in Tibet.)

In fact, not only are the "Free Tibet" and "Free Dinee" causes compatible, they are complementary. They are both aspects of the larger ideal "Free everyone who doesn't have freedom". Some of your recruits for the "Free Dinee" movement will undoubtedly see this as one aspect of the larger ideal. These recruits would be dismayed at the motto "Fuck Tibet, Free the Navajo", because that goes against the larger ideal.

Free the Navajo, certainly. Publicise the plight of the Dinee, gather support from those who are willing - do all these things, but don't fuck Tibet. That's just wrong.


"The point wasn't that we should wish ill on Tibet". There is no other way to read "Fuck Tibet". If your intent is not to wish ill on Tibet, then the node title is inappropriate, which is (as I wrote above) one of the things I disagree with.

"The point is that we (meaning those E2 users who are US Citizens) don't really have room to criticize China for committing sins we commit as well". US citizens don't (all) commit those sins. The Bureau of Indian Affairs commits those sins. I agree that those who support the BIA and its current policies may be hypocritical in saying "Free Tibet". (Those are the people who do say "Fuck the Navajo", those are the people who would be hypocritical.) I agree that those who do not actually oppose the BIA may be hypocritical saying "Free Tibet" too, but this is a matter of omission or ignorance; not as grievous a sin. But those who do not support the BIA, do have room to criticize. Some of that criticism is justly aimed at the Chinese policy on Tibet, some of it is justly aimed at the BIA. To disallow any of that criticism to be aimed at Chinese policy, to absolve those policymakers (and policy keepers) of their wrongdoings; that would be unjust.

"If China were to criticize the US&hellip". China is a piece of land. China is borders on a map. China does not criticize. If the Chinese government, which is responsible for grossly interfering in Tibetan affairs, were to criticize, then you're right, no-one would take them seriously. If a Chinese citizen, who does not support the oppression in Tibet, were to criticize, that is valid and legitimate. U.S. citizens, not supporting the oppression of the Navajo, can, in sincerity and without hyprocisy, call for "Free Tibet". It is not necessary for them to criticize BIA policy before they criticize Chinese policy. It is not necessary for them to criticize BIA policy more than they criticize Chinese policy. You may rank one as more imporant than the other, and you're welcome to try and persuade others to see things that way too. But this particular method of persuasion, driving people away from another cause which is related and which is also just, will perhaps not work as well as you'd hope.

"Tibet should be allowed to do what they please, but all we can do is hope that China learns from the mistakes the US made". There's a bit in the Bible that says something along the lines of: don't obsess over the mote in your neighbour's eye when there's a plank in your own. Sometimes, people don't help the neighbour with a plank because they have a mote in their own eye. Sometimes they don't help the neighbour with a plank because they have a plank themselves. The moral does not apply to these circumstances. The judge says "Well, I can't really criticize or punish her for killing her family, I remember I once broke the law when I was seven and I shoplifted a Tootsie Roll". That's wrong. The bulk of U.S. citizens say "Well, I can't really criticize political injustice on another continent, we haven't even got it perfect in our own country". That's wrong. "All we can do is hope…" - no! We can speak out against injustice where we find it, and we can fight it.

A U.S. citizen criticizes Chinese oppression, and oppression occurs in the U.S. too. This is not hypocrisy. A U.S. citizen criticizes Chinese oppression, and condones or supports oppression in the U.S.. This is hypocrisy. But this is not what happens when people put "FREE TIBET" bumper stickers on their cars. The presence of that bumper sticker does not make for hypocrisy. The argument simply does not hold, unless and until you can prove that the presence of those stickers is somehow to condone oppression in the U.S..


Gorgonzola is insistent that my writeup isn't complete without mentioning that the BIA, while the instrument of oppression, is not the root of the oppression. The BIA is, and has been, supported by the office of the President, and who knows how many other political powers (at least implicitly, if not explicitly). IMHO, it is more effective to level criticism at the group that is most directly connected with the wrongdoing… the President has other concerns, and departments and offices and bureaus and the like are specifically made to handle particular issues.

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