April 19, 2008

Double rally on the Wisconsin Capitol steps: Free Tibet + Pro-China.

At the top end of the steps, there were amplified speakers denouncing China to a crowd waving the Tibet flag. At the lower end of the steps, there was a silent crowd waving the Chinese flag, the Olympic flag, and the American flag.

Tibet/China rally in Madison

Tibet/China rally in Madison

Tibet/China rally in Madison

There were some Free Tibet protesters at the lower end too. One man in particular shouted his criticisms at the pro-Chinese flag bearers. The pro-Chinese group was extremely well-focused on being quiet and polite. I'll post a couple videos, but unfortunately, I botched a recording that showed the pro-Tibet man yelling and two Chinese students turning to talk to me very politely trying to explain why the criticism was not fair.

The first video surveys the scene:

The second video shows a man on the "Free Tibet" side shouting "Freedom of speech! Freedom of Religion!"


ricpic said...

Americans, bystanders in our own country.

Paco Wové said...

An a propos comment from Margaret Wente, of the Toronto Globe and Mail:

"Shortly after the last Olympics, I spent a few weeks in Beijing. I wanted to find out what was on the minds of the young and educated meritocracy - the Chinese equivalent of the Westerners who are demanding boycotts and marching in the streets. So I spent a lot of time hanging out at Starbucks. The first thing I learned was that everyone had kept track of every medal won by the Chinese. Their Olympic achievement was a proxy for the nation's honour.

The twentysomething kids I met had well-formed views of their nation's past, and its future. They all believed that China deserves more attention and respect. They didn't ask a single question about the West's attitude toward Tibet because, in their view, it's none of our business. Tibetans are a backward, troublesome bunch who are profoundly ungrateful for everything China has tried to do for them.

To us, China is a world-class bully. To them, China is a model of restraint. One earnest student suggested a small war might be in order. A small war to take back Taiwan. This sentiment is widespread - reclaiming Taiwan is hot stuff in Internet chat rooms.

Nowhere did I find anyone who regarded the central government as a human-rights oppressor. This is partly due to censorship, of course, but not entirely. The kids I met had scarcely heard of Tiananmen Square, although one young woman said the 1989 crackdown had been a good thing."

(Copied from Damian Penny.)

George said...

Dear American Friends:

My people have been politely visiting Tibet for nearly 60 years.

I am proud to say that we have politely sent one million Tibetans to tuition-free camps. There was pushing and shoving, but that was to be expected. Many activities were provided at our camps. These included free rice, water, educational sessions, and extended dirt naps.

Wen Jiabao
Premier of the State Council

(P.S.–-Do you need any more DVD players or tube socks? I have some extras.)

Middle Class Guy said...


Eli Blake said...

There was a picture exactly like that on the front page of the Arizona Republic the day after the San Francisco 'torch relay' as well.

To be honest, I believe that the worst thing that could happen to Tibet is exactly what we have-- the issue becoming the focus of international protesters.

That isn't to say that the Tibetans themselves don't have a case-- they most certainly do. And it is appropriate for Americans who care about the issue to push our government to protest it though official channels and both behind the scenes and in public (for example I applaud Nancy Pelosi for taking a strong stand on the issue and I believe it would be appropriate for President Bush to join other world leaders in boycotting the opening ceremony at the Olympics.)

But for the issue to become the property of loud protesters achieves nothing of value and given Chinese history and views of the world is counterproductive (China is well aware of its nineteenth and twentieth century history in which imperialistic foreign powers forced their way in and late kept China as a semi-colony during such episodes as the Opium War, the Russian seizure of northeastern Manchuria in 1868 and the Sino-Soviet war almost exactly a century later, the Boxer Rebellion and the Japanese invasion before and during World War II. For that matter, China considered the U.S. intervention in Korea to be an attack on China, especially when MacArthur pushed all the way to the Yalu river (the border with China-- leading to three bloody years of war with the U.S.) Chinese thinking is often developed in a historical context and spans generations. For that reason they tend to be very xenophobic and mistrustful of the intentions of foreigners.

I believe that China has an abysmal human rights record and there are a number of issues they can and should be challenged on (besides Tibet, their treatment of internal dissidents and their support of murderous regimes in Myanmar and Sudan) but the most likely avenues to achieve results are to 1) elect people who we believe are willing to stand up to them on issues like that, and 2) hold our elected officials' feet to the fire so that they do work-- whether publically or behind the scenes-- to get China to make progress on these kinds of issues.

But loud protests only get them to dig in their heels that much more.

Trooper York said...

Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers. Someone is screwing with your low cost consumer products. Please contact your congress-person. Thank you.

Kirby Olson said...

I bet the Chinese participants are being paid.

I called for a boycott of Tibet on my blog and within five minutes I had comments from the Chinese saying that this was totally unfair.

People I've never heard from before or since.

I like the Dalai Lama but is it true that he had 4000 slaves attendant upon him as a child? I saw that on a Maoist website base din America.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

The Chinese just don't get it: if you want to be a "First World" nation, you have to be self-hating and defer to the international set in all things. Just ask the intelligentsia of the West!

Chip Ahoy said...

So the gigantic authoritarian government wants more recognition, respect and a little love.