Anti-immigration White Nationalists & the Dalai Lama -- equivalency?

Ever since China took over Tibet in 1950, the PRC government has been systematically settling Han-Chinese there, in a clear (and apparently successful) effort to make it a Han-majority region and thereby forestall nationalistic secessionism.* The Dalai Lama is on record as not liking that.

In this thread, particularly this post and this post, Chen019 posits equivalence (and implies equivalent legitimacy) between the Dalai Lama in the above respect, and white Americans who want a racially discriminatory immigration policy (such as the U.S. actually had, from 1924 to 1965) for the purpose of preserving America’s character as a white-majority country.

Now, I’m not at all concerned with defending the Dalai Lama’s POV here, I’m rather uncomfortable with ethnic nationalism in any form, but where’s the equivalency here? The Lama just wants Tibet to remain Tibet, which it might not if Han colonists overwhelm it; whereas nonwhite immigrants pose no threat at all to America remaining America. We have absorbed countless immigration waves in the past; and in the process our national culture has continually altered but still remained the same, as living organisms tend to do over time.
*(Saddam Hussein did the same, BTW, with the traditionally Kurdish cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, which he still controlled between the Gulf War and the Iraq War – he colonized them with ethnic Arabs, who then, after 2003, had to face ethnic cleansing by returning Kurds. I’m not defending either side, there.)

Tibet was invaded - that would be the key difference.

Which would make the Tibetans more like the American Indians.

Yup. However, I thought the equivalence question was with Euro-Americans. I’ll go reread the thread and see what I missed.

The problem is, they’re not assimilating, they’re not absorbing. This isn’t a racial thing, it’s a cultural thing.

The equivalency is that the Dalai Lama also sees the Tibetans as a distinct ethnicity and wants to preserve the ethnic makeup of the country. It’s the same ethnocentric thinking.

http://www.buddhism-blog.com/2008/04/tibetans-are-a.html

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3659/is_200612/ai_n19431793/

You can see the attitude summarised here in this article about a Tibetan beauty pagaent.

http://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2009/06/04/the-miss-tibet-beauty-pageant-a-voice-of-tibet/

Are you referring to Han in Tibet or Mexicans in the U.S.? The latter are assimilating and absorbing. They are also changing American culture in the process, but that is how it has worked here from the beginning.

Assimilating compared to who?

http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=YjQ4N2EyMTQ4NzZjZmNlOWQwN2RiNTZjMWZiZDY4YzQ=

Native Americans during the time of manifest destiny would be a better metaphor.

One thing is that race is considered a very real thing in this part of Asia, in a way we will never quite understand. Anybody can become American pretty easily. But a Tibetan will never, ever, ever become Chinese. They will never be fully accepted in Chinese society. When I went to Tibet, my Han students told me “don’t touch anyone! They only bathe once a year” and “you will get stabbed if you are alone with anyone!” My Han friends get visibly shaken and start pulling their purses and children close when they see a Tibetan on the bus just doing their thing. Hell, some anonymous bureaucrat tried to bar me from taking a perfectly legal government organized tour into Tibet because I am a woman (my male American colleague went on the same trip as me a day earlier with no problem) and he thought Tibetans are all crazed rapist or something.

Among the Han, they will always be treated as outsiders, and inferior ones as that. There is no concept of “race is a construct” or “races are equal” out here. In Han Chinese culture, there is a very real sense that there is something special about the Han that have made them the bearers of a superior culture. People outside of this are either barbarians or watered-down-Chinese-people (Koreans and Japanese are considered this.) Chinese civics textbooks will even “rank” the different minority groups, with the Han obviously on top.

So Tibetans are naturally a bit unhappy about the idea of a bunch of folks with this huge racial superiority complex trying to make them outsiders in their own land.

Secondly is that there have been concentrated attempts to dismantle Tibetan culture. Temples have been destroyed, nomads forcibly settled, villages moved, etc. Tibetans face restrictions on movement and the like that other Chinese do not face. Right now, movement into Tibet is not the result of natural economic migration. The government is offering heavy financial and social incentives (such as a relaxation of the one-child policy) to people moving in to Tibet. It’d be like if our government started paying Mexicans to move to Ohio or something.

Even Sven,

You obviously have issues with China and, frankly, I’d like to know why you even stay here if you dislike it so much (as you’ve admitted elsewhere). However, that’s a question for another thread. The issue here, though, is that you’re merely parroting and/or regurgitating ridiculous hearsay and throwing in a few isolated personal anecdotes and calling it fact. I can give plenty of contradictory anecdotes about Han friends of mine who would never even think of uttering hate speech against Tibetans. You using some bullshit someone said and generalizing all Han with it is inaccurate and wrong.

Among the Han, they will always be treated as outsiders, and inferior ones as that

Show me proof of this. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that this is fact, neither in the words of Han I know, nor in any official statement. You’re just pulling that out of your ass and you know it.

People outside of this are either barbarians or watered-down-Chinese-people

See above. “Hanzu Zangzu Tuanjie” (Han-Tibetan Unity) brings up more that a million hits on Baidu, including articles like “Hans and Tibetans are daughters of the same mother,” “Racial chauvinism can only harm China,” and various others. During the 2008 riots I heard nothing but positive comments about Tibetans from non-Tibetans around me and in the media.

Secondly is that there have been concentrated attempts to dismantle Tibetan culture

Funny, I saw plenty of functioning temples, butter lamps, prayer flags, tankga paintings, rock carvings, Buddhist antiquities, monks, nuns, prayer wheels and actual Buddhist ceremonies when I visited Tibet. Did the authorities forget to try and dismantle those?

Anybody can become American pretty easily. But a Tibetan will never, ever, ever become Chinese.

Actually, if you paid attention (or were even here) at the time of the 2008 riots, you’d have noticed just about everyone in China saying how “Chinese” Tibetans are.

Some racist assholes does not an entire country of racist assholes make.

Yeah. I asked my students if there was racism in China. They all dutifully shook their heads and said “No, no, of course not.”

I asked what their parents would say if they married a white guy. They all said “Oh, of course, it would be okay!”

I asked what their parents would say if they married a black guy.

Stunned silence.

Of do you want to hear about the time my good friend went out and about in Chengdu dressed as a Uigher? He’s 6"7’ and he still had guys challenging him to fistfights just for walking down the street! Or when I went to an ethnic dancing display and watched my colleagues go on and on about the how the stumbling off-rhythm but obviously Han dancer was clearly the best? Or how my university president wouldn’t shake the last teacher’s hand (guess what race!)

Racism is constant, pervasive, and accepted in China. Can you honestly, honestly, say any different? It’s not like I’m just picking on China. Japan is the same way, maybe even worse. But this idea is there. I don’t know, maybe things are different out East. But around here, it’s obvious.

Look. There is no need to make this personal. The idea of Han superiority over the barbarians goes back thousands of years and is one of the founding concepts that holds China together (Han itself being a fairly constructed identity.) Anyone with a passing acquaintance with Chinese history will recognize that China has never been comfortable with outsiders. That’s why they, uh, close themselves off from the rest of the world now and then. That’s why they built a huge freaking wall.

Of course people say this and that. I’ve heard everyone drone on and on about how they just want a harmonious society and blah blah blah. Of course officials aren’t coming out and saying “Yeah, Tibetans do suck.” You live here. Hell, you’ve lived on Planet Earth. Surely you’ve noticed that people don’t always say what they mean, right?

Anyone who thinks racism doesn’t exist in China is flat-out naive. Of course it exists here, it exists everywhere. But I’m sick and tired of listening to cliched ramblings about the bottomless racism of the sinister Han Chinese and the heavenly, saintly Tibetans who can do no wrong and never discriminate against anyone (except followers of Dorje Shugden, of course!). Your comments above have been merely more of the same. You’ve come into contact with a few (possibly more than a few) close-minded idiots, but you still refer to “Han” racism in general, as if it were this all-pervasive character flaw of the Han ethnic group.

You know what? I know plenty of my fellow whites who can give you a million reasons why blacks are inferior, but I’m not going to guilt my entire race by association, as you’ve done here with the Han.

You know what? I’ve pretended to be Uyghur also. I’ve got a thick, dark beard, I can speak Chinese, and sometimes I get sick of answering taxi drivers’ questions about where I’m from, so I tell them “Xinjiang.” I’ve never had a bad experience with it, never heard a racist epithet, never had anyone order me to leave their taxi, never had anyone accost me on the street. You’re trying to pass off your experience (or experiences your “good friend” had) as if they were irrefutable proof of the depths of racism that pervades the Han ethnic group, and you’re just totally wrong. You see what I’m getting at here? Just because you’ve experienced some Han racists doesn’t mean that all Han are racists, as you inferred. Perhaps you didn’t mean to, but you did, and it was wrong.

Racism is accepted in China? Where? In the affirmative action programs for national minority groups? In the national media that constantly stresses ethnic unity? In the hundreds-of-millions-if-not-billions of RMB poured into minority areas (which, BTW, is a lose-lose situation for the Chinese leadership. If they don’t fund modernization projects in those areas they get accused of not caring about minorities, if they do fund them they get accused of “cultural genocide”)? In the educational content which, contrary to your earlier observation about Chinese textbooks, includes specific material devoted only to racial unity? In the right of all national minority groups to use their native languages, unlike Kurds in Turkey? In the fact that Han Chinese have never forced Tibetans or Uighurs to adopt Chinese names and shed their traditional culture, as the Japanese did in Korea?

You’re taking a few racist incidents and tarring the whole country as racists. That’s just stupid. And, frankly, as a member of a largely Han family, and as someone who has settled in China for quite a while, I find it offensive.

Look, I hope you are right and I am wrong. I don’t think anything is going to change in Tibet any time soon, so I hope to god that people can get along and live as neighbors in peace with mutual respect.

I’m not a sociologist. I don’t have access to journal studies and articles. I have read everything I can get my hands on about China, and I have lived on my own in small-town Sichuan for 22 months. I am not an expert about China. All I have is my experiences, the experiences of my fellow foreign teachers, and what I get from my Chinese friends and students.

I’m sorry, but I have indeed experienced constant, pervasive racism.

Yeah, you could probably say the same thing about parts of America. If we were talking about those parts of America, and I had experience with that, I would probably bring it up. I wouldn’t want to be the lone Chinese kids in small town Alabama any more than I’d want to be a Tibetan in Chongqing. If a Chinese teacher went down to a generally racist part of American and had to deal with all that racism, I’d fully expect her to come on the Dope and relate her experiences.

Of course not all Han are racist, just like all Americans are not racist. But it is my experience that the way history is taught, the way people are brought up, etc. tends to lead to a society that is not always particularly sensitive or welcoming to people who are different, including people of different races and culture. Maybe things are different elsewhere. Once again, I only have what I have lived to relate.

Personally, we have had different experiences in China, and there is truth in to the things we have to say. Despite your insistence to the contrary, I am not some knee-jerk free Tibet person. I actually do have pretty complicated and conflicted thoughts on the issue. I don’t really have a stand either way, since I know next to nothing about it. But I do wish that it was possible to have open dialog. I think with open dialog, a lot of the violence and distrust would dissipate. That is honestly the extent of my views on the subject.

So please, let’s not make this personal. I have no beef with you, and I respect your views.

It’s difficult to word a response to this. Let’s just say my personal experience is a lot different than Kidney’s.

I am not an expert about China.

Then perhaps you should stop trying to sound like one?

*Of course not all Han are racist, just like all Americans are not racist. *

Did you read your own comments before you posted them?

Among the Han, they will always be treated as outsiders, and inferior ones as that

**a bunch of folks with this huge racial superiority complex **

The idea of Han superiority over the barbarians goes back thousands of years and is one of the founding concepts that holds China together

You didn’t qualify anything of the things you said with “some Han” or “many Han,” just “the Han” in general.

*a society that is not always particularly sensitive or welcoming to people who are different, including people of different races and culture. *

Welcome to real life. People are insensitive, intolerant jerks. That’s especially going to be true of a country that has had very little contact with outside countries save for the past 30 or so years, where the notion of “race” isn’t really understood or conceptualized as it is in America or Britain, and that has had a long history of being treated badly by foreign powers. I admit that many Chinese can be ignorant about racial or ethnic issues, some downright racist, but most just don’t know any better. Too many of we foreigners in this country, however, fail to understand that and just have a knee-jerk response of “it must be racist!” and that just makes us look stupid and culturally ignorant.

*I think with open dialog, a lot of the violence and distrust would dissipate. That is honestly the extent of my views on the subject. *

Wishful thinking since neither the Chinese side nor the Tibetan side seem to want to budge, but fair enough. Your views are your views.

So please, let’s not make this personal

I don’t want it to be personal either, but I’m not a fan of ignorant statements passed off as fact (and, even sven, you have to admit that the comments you made did come off very “matter-of-factly”), especially ones that affect me personally in some way. Try not to generalize so much, I’ll try to stop being an arrogant loudmouth know-it-all.