Chuck Tripp wrote a one-sided letter praising Tibet [“Divine Forgiveness,” Letters, March 4, City Weekly] but neglected to mention the cruel feudalism that existed there before the Chinese communists took over in 1959.
Tibet used to have hundreds of monasteries, which the communists fortunately reduced to 13. These monasteries owned large tracts of land where over 90 percent of the Tibetans were serfs forced to farm the land to support and feed the numerous idle Buddhist monks. The serfs were not provided with schooling or even medical care. If they tried to escape, they were beaten, tortured and sometimes killed. The Dalai Lama had a 1,000-room, 14-story palace, where he and the monks lived in luxury.
When the People’s Republic of China (PRC) took over, slavery was abolished. Employment and wages went up, while begging went down. Soon, there were more electric plants, roads, bridges, schools and even a few hospitals. Life expectancy has risen from 35.5 years in 1950 to 67 in 2000.
Even though Tibet has been a part of China for hundreds of years, with its theocratic dictatorship largely ignored, the 14th Dalai Lama wants to not only be the spiritual leader of Tibet, but the political leader, as well. He won’t settle for anything less than making Tibet an independent nation within the borders of the Chinese state. This isn’t going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen, because a theocracy— with one-man rule—will not provide any more civil rights than the communists are providing. Also, the standard of living under the communists is much higher than it was under those superstitious, unscientific, selfish monks.
Readers, please Google: “Is Tibet better off economically under the communists?” Also, look at the March 31, 2008, issue of The New Yorker, which is quite critical of the Dalai Lama’s leadership qualifications.
It would be counterproductive and futile for our government to put pressure on China to grant political autonomy to Tibet, a view I expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last summer.
Salt Lake City