Sunday, June 15, 2014

Red Jerry and Buddha's Warriors

A reply I left to Jerry in the Amazon comment section to a book about armed Tibetan resistance to Mao's invasion.

Jerry: Buddha's Warriors, the title is shocking. Buddhism forbids killing no matter what. Once a person puts on that orange robe he has renounced everything in human world including what he loves and hates. Tibetan Buddhism is a deviated form of Buddhism. Only in Tibet monks are being served like aristocrats such as the Dalai Lama. The Buddha himself renounced his power and wealth, lived an ascetic life. He traveled by foot and begged for food while teaching his wisdom. Monks throughout Asia, except Tibet, have followed this tradition; in Thailand you can still see monks begging for food by foot every morning. In Tibet, monks have become the ruling class living in the best palace and enjoying the finest food. Only this kind of "monks" will become warriors--they are still attached to worldly stuff.

I also read The CIA's Secret War in Tibet. Buddha's Warriors is about the same story and written with the same angle. I enjoy reading about history, and maybe because I am too old I don't have the kind of anger that some of the reviewers show towards the Chinese. Americans are no more virtuous than the Chinese; read about what happened to Native Americans if you don't know what I mean. As for Tibetans, they had a bloody past as well. When Tibet was militarily strong between 8th to 10th centuries, they invaded all neighboring nations in all directions. Their warriors frequently rode into China stealing, robbing, raping and killing Chinese peasants. Tibetans even captured the Chinese capital in 763 A.D. This kind of story repeats itself in most countries in the world. What can we do? Human nature is flawed.

Ivan: So Tibetans were "militarily strong between 8th to 10th centuries" and -OY VEY!- they "even captured the Chinese capital in 763 A.D" so now on account of their bad boy ways from more than a thousand years ago they have no moral right to object to living under a foreign, totalitarian, communist government that compromises their religious freedom, culture, language, can put you in prison for having a picture of the Dalai Lama, let alone expressing any criticism of the regime.

The government that uses Tibet as a dumping ground for nuclear waste and that has a flourishing program to flood Tibet with Han Chinese migrants to permanently alter its demographics and make Tibetans a peripheral minority on their own land crushing any hopes of meaningful autonomy or independence.

And of course, "Jerry" emphasizes that any Tibetan who might have fought against the invading Mao's army was a heretic to his religion because "true Buddhists can never become warriors" even when they were fighting against the army that brought mass starvation, concentration camps, and the Cultural Revolution that literally shut down all religious activity in a country that derived its' meaning from it?

A regime that is universally acknowledged by all independent scholars to have caused more deaths through starvation, murder and repression among its own people than the Holocaust (over 6 million) or even the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union (over 24 million).

And Americans have no right to criticize Chinese government acts in Tibet because of their ancestral crimes against the native population of their continent. Well, thanks for your insights, "Jerry."

What can we do? Human nature is flawed.


You, shady blog reader, might wonder why I used quotation marks to annotate Jerry's name in my review. 

This has to do with my conspiratorial view that Jerry is not a real person. Let me clarify, all abstract thinking is an illusion in the end. Some illusions are more true than others. 

Thus I fully admit a possibility that there is a retiree ("too old to have anger toward the Chinese") named Jerry from California whose Amazon review activity is confined to publishing three reviews of books about Tibet all of whom criticize a six million strong people whose country is subjugated by a totalitarian government ruling over a nation of well over a billion, whose 2010 Noble Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, is lingering in prison for "inciting subversion of state power."

Excerpts from his reviews include gems like, 

"Buddhism was also partly introduced by the Chinese [to Tibet] even though it came out of India."

"One example, he quoted statements of a British doctor who treated Tibetans with venereal disease (page 19), but a citation is not provided. This is my only complaint."

"The Chinese have committed atrocities against Tibetans in the latter half of the 20th century, but the Tibetans are just as guilty. When Tibet was strong, for more than two centuries, its army invaded China and even captured the Chinese capital."

So yes maybe there is a retired ol' Jerry somewhere in the San Diego suburbs whose only gripe with a pro-Beijing volume about Tibetan hisotry is an absence of a citation about venereal diseases and who reckons that Tibetans are "just as guilty" in the cultural genocide they suffer under the communist government because in 763 A.D they had the guile to invade the Chinese capital. 

Or maybe "Jerry" is an empty vessel created somewhere far, far away where people are paid to provide these sorts of insights to the confused barbarians.   


  1. I'm with you here, Jerry is off base: Tibet doing bad stuff 1200 years ago does not mean revenge is in order by the Chinese today (ie. no, Tibet does not have it coming). However, I'm curious about this conspiracy theory... who is Jerry then? A Chinese government propagandist? I highly doubt they would waste time on reviews.

    1. I think its a possibility. I find it strange that all of Jerry's reviews were on books concerning Tibet presenting a pro-Chinese position without actually reviewing the book itself, there were no Jerry's takes of say Sandra Bullock movies or electric shavers. When -a long, long time ago- I was a member of political discussion forums I regularly noticed members appearing and making obviously pro-Russian posts without ever making any other posts or replying to the comments. They were clearly Russian plants and I see a lot of them now even on say relatively obscure media like Vice's coverage of the Ukraine crisis. If the Russian government would make an effort to make itself heard on some obscure online forums, I don't see why China with a huge budget and a security apparatus that has more people in it than many countries, wouldn't take advantage of Amazon reviews where they can -cheaply and in just a few minutes- provide a counter argument to a book presenting a pro-Tibetan position. These reviews may be read by hundreds of people. Then again, I could be wrong. It is a fact that governments spend big on presenting their point of view to foreign populations. Both Russia and China have spent hundreds of millions to launch poorly watched English-language TV channels and news agencies. But that doesn't mean that Jerry is not a real person. Ultimately, I don't know who he is but even his line of argument doesn't seem very Western. Most Westerners who oppose their countries getting involved in the Tibet issue would say something like, "we have enough problems at home and should be telling other countries how to settle internal conflicts" not "Tibetans are guilty as well because they have pillaged the Chinese capital more than a thousand years ago."

    2. Hmm, that last sentence has me starting to think that perhaps you're not being paranoid after all.

      On the other hand, not every Chinese citizen can speak English well. I have to think that those who can will not be wasted on propaganda. I mean, how important is the average US consumer's view of Tibet to the Chinese government? Instead, the Chinese should fund a really dramatic movie that depicts their side of the story. Think the Lego Movie. But then perhaps the PRC is targeting US intelligentsia, in which case they are embarrassing themselves with this tactic.

      More research on this topic would be very interesting (to me anyway). How deep does it go? How much funding does the PRC devote to such propaganda for other populations?

    3. Well I believe English is a mandatory part of the curriculum in most Chinese schools. I found this article about Chinese govt online trolls- but this is about the internal propaganda market, I know Russia has a very active paid army of commentors on the English web - though most of them copy and paste prepared messages. But Russia has traditionally been more outward focused than China. It is entirely possible that Jerry is a real person. I try not to have firm convictions about things like this since I have no way of really knowing. I do think its a possibility because Beijing does care about its external image and Tibet is a painful, vulnerable point for them because in that region their rule is most reminiscent of old school communist dictatorship that has been somewhat eased in most of the country where many Han Chinese do genuinely support the government and believe that at this point in history, one party rule is -if really imperfect- the best way to advance the country.