Freedom of Speech: American Style
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Our Unquestioning Media when it comes to Tibet
CAMW: Below are a letter and an addendum that were sent to 9 major newspapers in the U.S. in January 2001.
New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, and San Jose Mercury News
There was no response from any of these newspapers. Now that the Dalai Lama has arrived in the U.S. in May, we find none of these newspapers' reporters have bothered to ask the questions our writer implored them to ask
Tibet-Through the eyes of a forgotten minority
As an American with Mongolian Chinese heritage, it has pained me to see my fellow Americans presented with much delusion about Tibet. In an issue that relates directly to the Chinese American heritage, it is surprising how little the mainstream press has been sought opinions from the Chinese American community. Instead, we follow blond movie actress icons such as Sharon Stone, and "Sexiest Man Alive" Richard Gere's opinions on Tibet. In fact, when I had tried to speak up about this issue, I was called "a communist agent" by some "free Tibet" activists.
It made me see how the Chinese Americans are viewed in this country. Little wonder the Wenho Lee case happened. Despite that I came to this country at the age of 15, over 34 years ago, and formed most of my views here. Despite having voted as a Democrat for the last 28 years,-- Despite that I have been married to a Caucasian with Native American blood for the last 23 years. Despite that I am the mother to two Eagle Scout sons-- I am accused of being a Chinese communist agent.
I was not seen as an American.
Where is the real Chinese minority voice in this issue?
I was born and raised in Taiwan. Due to the communist takeover of the mainland China, my parents had escaped to Taiwan. Growing up in ultra anti-communist Taiwan, I was brought up to hate communism. My grandfather died after being jailed by the communist party. I saw thousands of families split by the bamboo curtain. I have known people who were beaten badly while in jail.
Yet, one thing I knew for certain: Minorities are all over China, including Taiwan. My paternal grandparents belonged to a Mongolian family association in Taiwan. The branch for my family line alone had over 800 members. There is even a Tibetan-Mongolian Association in Taiwan, which the Dalai Lama works with.
The fact is: there are millions of Tibetan and Mongolian minority people who migrated to central China since the Yuen Dynasty over 700 years ago.
Most of the American scholars focus on Tibet in studying this issue, but they totally ignore the real minorities in central China.
It hurts me every time I see our newspapers preach the theory that "Tibetans are a race distinct from the Chinese". The Chinese is a multiple ethnic people. The Chinese is not a race. Here in the U.S. we don't talk about the Canadians as a race. We don't call the British a race. Why the Chinese? There is something degrading about this attitude.
We don't like it when the Aryan Nation people proclaim they are a race distinct from the Americans. Yet we seem very eager to promote racist segregation in China.
I have been quite despondent while watching the "Free Tibet" movement paint China into a mono-ethnic nation, thereby erasing any ethnic identity from the real minorities in central China.
We must remember: those Tibetans, Mongols who live in the border regions are the majority in their own regions. We minorities elsewhere in China need to preserve our culture as well.
For the preservation of my minority Chinese heritage, I wish to say this: As far as I'm concerned, the Dalai Lama is far beneath Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King had a dream for America. He helped all African Americans to gain self respect. He never forgot African Americans are all over the U.S. I don't see the Dalai Lama ever speak about how he plans to help his fellow Tibetans in central China. They are swept under the carpet as the Tibet movement tries to convince the West that "Tibet was invaded", that "the Tibetans are a race distinct from the Chinese".
How would the all the minority Americans like it if they were told that they are a race distinct from "the Americans"? This is what the minorities in China have to endure. The Tibet movement constantly talks as if "the Chinese" were one race.
I have been feeling the pain of having my heritage distorted by the Tibet movement.
Every few months, we see a news article about how a suffering Tibetan has escaped to India. Three times last year, I saw photographers holding shows--one in Smithsonian Museum, one in San Francisco--on the photos they took of the Tibetan refugee camps. I feel these photographers are trying to jump on a trendy topic to aid their own career. What about the rest of us who were also refugees?
As a child of refugee parents in Taiwan, I had lived in poor conditions. I remember a man building a room anchored to one wall of our house. He attached three walls made of bamboo strips, and lived in it with his wife and two daughters. Every night we could hear his girls cry. Another family of nine lived in a room about 10' by 10'. The women did there cooking outdoors over coal balls. Our alley was muddy and narrow. Yet, I knew my family were Mongol; the family of nine were Han; our landlord was a Manchurian family. We all suffered due to communism, but none of us blamed the atrocities on ethnic cleansing. For we know the atrocities happened to all Chinese people.
Why is there no photographer for us? Where was an aspiring photographer when I was almost gored by a water buffalo on my way to school in second grade?
One recent article even claimed that "some Tibetans in China are working with the Chinese government for money." The fact is there are minorities who do not appreciate the Dalai Lama. What money did I get as a Mongol from Taiwan? We all know China is nowhere as rich as the U.S. Major American press has reported that the American Congress gives the Dalai Lama's "exiled government" millions of dollars. I've received email from a disenchanted American Buddhist from the S.F. area who told me how she observed the Tibetan monks. She said they live on social security and our government grants, works out on health equipment which they replace with a new set every few months, and generally do not contribute to our community.
We can pretty much guess that a new refugee to the Tibetan camp in India is being presented by the local Tibetan officials. Let's ask how much money they are getting, as they state their horror stories to our journalists. Someone should audit the Dalai Lama on where he gets his money, where he spends them.
Please read the autobiography of a Tibetan, titled "The Struggle for Modern Tibet", written by Melvyn Goldstein, our American scholar on Tibet. The Tibetan, an ex-serf who had served in the Dalai Lama's personal dance troupe at the age of 13, recounted how he participated in the Cultural Revolution.
Please also read "The Making of Modern Tibet", by Professor A. Tom Grunfeld, who detailed how the Tibetan serfs had been punished with body mutilation by their Tibetan nobility, their eyes gorged out, hands and feet amputated.
When the Dalai Lama talks about "6000 monasteries burned", he fails to mention many Tibetans participated in the burning in an effort to rid old feudalism. It is sad that the Chinese peasants chose communism over feudalism. But Tashi Tsering, the subject of the autobiography, said, "the Cultural Revolution was ethnic blind."
China had a class struggle. We suffered just as the Tibetan refugees have in India. Yet now I stand to lose my ethnic identity amid all the Tibetan propaganda.
I've seen a "free Tibet" supporter post on the Internet discussion group. He said, "If a Tibetan admits he's Chinese, then he's no longer a Tibetan to me."
So the Tibetans across China must make a choice. This is akin to a person saying, "If a black admits he's American, then he's no longer black to me." Or an Aryan Nationalist saying, "We are a distinct race from the Americans."
Instead of working for the benefit of all of the minorities in China, the Tibet movement calls for ethnic segregation for the Tibet region under euphoric terms. It has built a great myth that sugarcoated Ethnic Segregation into supposed "freedom".
According to the Dalai Lama: Tibetans are a race distinct from the Chinese. He claims there is a "genocide".
In reality, his idea of ethnic purity rivals Hitler's ideals. He aims to accomplish ethnic cleansing in Tibet and its neighboring provinces, and remove all but pure Tibetans. Many people failed to see why a Nazi wrote "Seven Years In Tibet". One passage in that book recounted with dewy-eyed admiration about how the Dalai Lama took a journey and stayed overnight in a governor's mansion, then "no mortals shall ever set foot again" in that mansion. The mansion was now considered a sacred place. Hitler would have loved being worshipped as a god king.
Any time we have an immensely popular leader that is almost god-like, such as Mao during the Cultural Revolution days, we need to start questioning the situation. Not blindly adore it. Many aspects of this Tibet movement now makes me see how Hitler had gained immense following.
Instead of being critical, some Canadian journalists wrote about how excited they were to be "granted" a meeting with the Dalai Lama. They were then thrilled that they didn't have to prostrate. An American Congressman even sent a memo to his fellow congressmen when the Congress was trying to vote on trade relationship with China: "When the lama talks, people should listen."
We don't even pay our own president as much respect. The fact is: We should not. Why should we worship anyone like this?
The Tibet independence movement is doomed because it does not have the support of real minorities in China. Just as most African Americans will not support a Black Nation, nor will most Europeans support an Aryan Nation, most minorities in China prefer a multiple ethnic nation.
Despite poverty, I have fond memories of my childhood days amid a multiple-ethnic society in Taiwan. When we had a school show, we performed ethnic folk dances. I had never experienced any prejudice until I came to face the Tibet movement. Here, when I tried to tell the "free Tibet" people that I'm a Mongol, they told me, "You are not a Mongol because your family has crossed lines with the Han." To me, this is no different from a white grandfather not recognizing his own half African American grandson. The emphasis on racial purity is very alarming.
As my son just went off to college, he's been receiving letters from Native American clubs which highly encourage him to explore his Native American heritage. No one cares that he's half-Chinese.
I find it amazing that while my family maintained our Mongolian heritage for over 700 years in China, now it is the Tibetan supporters out here who are trying to deny it.
The Tibetans out here disregard the rest of the minorities across China. In their zealot attempt to prove they are a distinct race, they are totally into racial purity attitudes. They talk about "genocide", when they are the ones looking for ethnic purity. While I'm trying to preserve my Mongolian heritage, they want to knock me down.
I can attest they do not have my support at all. In fact, I see them as out to destroy my Mongol heritage.
I know in my heart: the multiple-ethnic Chinese people will never endorse such a racial purist movement.
What really matters is how America will fare at the end. The "Free Tibet" movement can hurt our nation. In the past, the Chinese people held a loving attitude toward the U.S., due to our saving China from the Japanese invasion during WWII. Now their feelings are changing. There is a great love for multiple ethnic culture in China. When Kublei Khan erected monuments during the Yuen Dynasty, he commissioned inscriptions in Mongolian, Tibetan, and Han writings. The first comprehensive Chinese dictionary was complied by the Manchurian emperor Kong-Xi. The Chinese word for "dictionary" came from Kong-Xi's work, which was entitled "Kong-Xi Word Examples". ("Word examples" now means "dictionary" in Chinese.) The Dalai Lama was always highly regarded until communism came along. The minorities contributed much to China.
The current Tibet movement has misrepresented general oppression in China as ethnic persecution. One only has to look at all the Han people who were tortured and killed to see the Communist oppression is ethnic blind. When we engage in "Free Tibet", many Chinese people are angry at the U.S. for wanting to split China.
We must ask ourselves, "What will we do if the Chinese people supported ethnic segregation in the U.S.?"
There is a huge difference between fighting communism, and promoting racial purity.
For the American's sake, it is very important for truth to be known to all the Americans--before we may be hated by most of the Chinese people.
In this new millennium when the Sino-American relationship is vital to world peace, Tibet has been a thorn in that relationship, and is a threat to world peace.
As a Mongolian Chinese American, I have been very distressed by the overseas Tibetans lies of Tibet being "a country". By this lie, they not only disregard all Tibetans across China, but make all the forgotten minorities in central China out to be "the Chinese who invaded Tibet". Please visit my site at http://journeyeast.tripod.com to see what a forgotten minority feels.
I read in the news that the Dalai Lama is about to visit the U.S. around April. Please, save me from another round of pain. I have been very sad seeing all the news articles about how "the Tibetans are a distinct race from the Chinese". Where does that leave my real minority heritage?
It only shows me we lack in our multiple ethnic education. So many Chinese American young people don't even know their own heritage anymore. It is sad indeed.
While we preach about ethnic oppression in China, let's please support the Chinese Americans' heritage here.
The Chinese is not a race, but a multiple-ethnic people. It's time all young Chinese Americans learn the truth.
Thanks for your time.
I do hope you will think twice about any future articles promoting ideas of "Tibetans are a race distinct from the Chinese", and the next aspiring photographer who comes to you with the schedule and location for their show.
This letter has been sent simultaneously to several major newspapers. I do hope the major American newspapers will all reflect more on your future Tibet articles. Thank you.
This is an addendum to my previous letter.
I truly hope that when the Dalai Lama arrives in the U.S., some of our journalists will ask harder questions. For one, what does he think of the Tibetans across China? Are they Tibetans or are they Chinese? Does he admit there is a Tibetan-Mongolian Association in Taiwan? How does he propose his people were "an independent, peaceful little country" when Tibetans are all over China? How is Tibetans a distinct race from "the Chinese", when Tibetans are all over China? What about other minorities throughout China?
Thank you. I would really like to hear his answers.