Friday, March 21, 2008

The Dark Secrets of Tibetan History

1956: Dalai Lama (center) inaugurates Tibet Autonomous Region
If Americans were asked what foreign country they most admired but never visited, doubtless many would answer Shangri La. But since it was foreclosed in the subprime mortgage meltdown, the second choice probably would be Tibet. Indeed, the mountainous nation nicknamed "The Roof of the World" holds a special place in the popular imagination because of multiple gauzy Hollywood treatments and one individual, the Dalai Lama.

But with Tibet back in the news because of brutal putdowns of anti-government riots by its Chinese occupiers, it is worth remembering that Tibet's own history is riven with wars between competing Buddhist sects, sexual exploitation, usurious taxation, serfdom and other forms of economic enslavement that extended well into the last half of the 20th century. This does not forgive the Chinese occupation, but does provide some perspective.

If you don't want to disturb your Richard Gere version of Tibert, move along please. But if you want some perspective, click here.

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