Can I just say to the anti-China demonstrators in London, in Paris and in San Francisco during last week’s Olympic torch protests: Well done.
As far as I’m concerned, no actions on behalf of a free and independent Tibet can go too far — excluding terrorism, of course. Some commentators said the torch ceremonies were a farce — and you can’t argue with that. They were. But the Olympics themselves are a farce — always have been — and these Olympics supporters miss the much larger point.
The protesters were making an issue of China’s appalling human rights abuses, their ever-present threats against Taiwan, and their militant actions in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama may think the pro-Tibet movement has gone too far in whipping up anti-China sentiment, but the Chinese had it coming. This is anger against a brutal regime bubbling to the surface, having welled up over many years. The Chinese are far too arrogant to take any notice of the strident protests, but that doesn’t mean that they should not have occurred. This was an important exercise in free speech and a clear expression of the belief that all people have a right to freedom and liberty.
The “free Tibet” movement is nothing new. I remember a pro-Tibet candle-lighting ceremony in Harvard Square in 1994. I took part in it. I supported the Tibetans then; I support them now.
Anytime a people want to be free, I’m behind them. I’m for a united Ireland — an impossible situation, but theoretically it would be wonderful (I hate the IRA, but, like them, I dream of a united Eire). I’m all for Kevin Rudd’s Australia breaking with the British Commonwealth. I’m for an independent Kosovo. I’m for an independent Taiwan, an independent Quebec, an independent Faroe Islands and even an independent Scotland, should they decide the United Kingdom no longer serves them.
I even support an independent Palestinian state, but not at Israel’s expense. For this to be possible, the Palestinian authorities must completely reject terrorism, bar Hamas as a political entity, and formally recognize Israel in its current form.
The only instance in which I would have been against a breakaway republic — had I been alive back then — would be the during the American Civil War. Lincoln had the right idea to quash the Dixie rebellion and bring the southern states back into the fold. Why? Because the Confederacy was based largely on an evil premise: slavery supported their economy. It’s the same reason we would boycott or protest against a country today.
But I really cannot think of another instance, past or present, in which I do not or would not back a people wanting to go their own way. As long as they shun terrorism, they have earned their right as a people to make their own rules.
The torch ceremonies were a great way to make the point that we are not happy with China. It was a great way to very publicly embrace the “Free Tibet” movement. And it was a great way to give China the middle finger, regardless of whether they care to acknowledge it or not.