Thursday, August 24th 2017

Protestors in the most secular city in the United States join in an outpouring of support for Tibetan Buddhism

tibettorch.jpgWe can see and hear thousands of angry demonstrators jamming San Francisco’s financial district and waterfront along its famous bay as we write this. It’s a miraculous outpouring of support for the Dalai Lama, and his campaign to reclaim Tibetan self-rule — and his homeland’s status as a sanctuary for Buddhist practice. The heat of what’s happening outside has been ratcheted up several orders of magnitude by . . . a collective revulsion to the Peoples Republic of China’s violent, authoritarian crackdown on monks in Tibet this spring.

And the protesters were egged on by speeches last night outside city hall by Richard Gere and Desmond Tutu. The hook for today’s mass march: San Francisco was chosen by the Olympic Committee as the only North American stop for the quadrennial, round-the-world touring of the Olympic torch — this cycle, heading into the 2008 summer games in Beijing.

We think we’ve seen many of the twenty-somethings who are out today before: they have the same look and wild energy as the demonstrators who’ve swamped these very same streets of San Francisco several times since 2003 in spasms of anti-Bush hatred and opposition to the Iraq war. Few of the grunge-types have probably ever cracked The Tibetan Book of the Dead, visited a temple of any type — or, like, meditated :)

They’re driven more by a culture of rebellion than a heart-chakra connection to the cause.

But another segment of marchers — and definitely a minority of this city’s population — are members of various religions and church groups who’ve joined the hardcore rabble-rousers to carry sandwich boards and placards featuring slogans like, “I am a Catholic for a Free Tibet.”

In that sense, you could argue that today’s rallies across the city against China and its Olympic torch constitutes the biggest ecumenical event in San Francisco since the Archbishop of Canterbury hosted the Bay Area’s most prominent rabbi, Catholic Archbishop, and Eastern Orthodox counterpart at Grace Cathedral in 1981.

The most ironic visual from the top of this tower in San Francisco’s financial district are the cranes and cargo ships full of intermodal containers at the Port of Oakland: it literally forms the background, on the horizon across the Bay, to the anti-China demo below.

Amazingly, the political hot-potato the port symbolizes seems utterly absent from the collective mind of today’s marchers. The port ranks as America’s second largest intake valve for imports from China — and our $250-billion-plus trade deficit with the PRC.

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2 Comments on “Protestors in the most secular city in the United States join in an outpouring of support for Tibetan Buddhism”

  1. I think you're right about the disconnect between some of the protestors, who are practiced in anger, and the cause.

    a lot of the crowds were full of Chinese students, and pro-China immigrants organized by their consulate. I saw one of them yelling, "shame, shame on you" at a Tibetan rights demonstrater, a white guy with glassed and grey hair.

    He told the chinese kid: "Go back to China if you like it so much."

  2. It is ironic regarding the trade deficit although our deficit with China did fall a bit last quarter (in contrast to the overall deficit). However, our appetite for low-cost goods is too high for even anger over China's treatment of Tibet, support of the Myanmar 'government,' etc. to make much of a dent. Attention on China's human rights policies should remain high throughout the Olympics. Let's all hope that it leads to at least some improvement in the situations of Tibetans, Burmese, Sudanese.

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