You would think that as an exile from Tibet, which like Xinjiang is yet another autonomous region of China that knows a thing or two about Beijing-induced oppression, the Dalai Lama would show some empathy and speak up for his fellow Uyghur Muslims.
Ever met a refugee who hates refugees? No? Then meet Tenzin Gyatso, better known as the “Dalai Lama”, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He recently gave the BBC an interview in which he also gave right-wing populists of the Matteo Salvini and Victor Orban mold a run for their money.
When asked by interviewer Ranjini Vaidyanathan if refugees should be allowed to stay in Europe, the Dalai Lama replied:
Limited number… OK. But whole Europe eventually become Muslim country? Impossible. Or African country? Also impossible.”
Sound familiar? The oh so peaceful and not racist at all meditative Buddhist we know so well is an Islamophobe-Buddhist nationalist with a fear of organized Islamization and its corresponding worn out clash-of-civilizations narrative.
And would somebody remind this colonial stooge of a captive mind (a term borrowed from Postcolonial Theory describing your generic Uncle Tom) that Africa is not a country?
Like staunchly Islamophobe Aung San Suu Kyi (another protegé of a gullible West) who, in light of her shoulder-shrugging laissez-faire attitude towards the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, has turned out to be nothing but a sham, I always knew that this red-robed holier-than-thou pseudo-luminary was a sublime fake.
Not to mention the fact that he, who is never shy of giving his unsolicited opinions about the current affairs of others to anyone who is willing to hear them, has not said one word on the plight of more than a million Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province, who are currently held in concentration camps where they are subjected to the most dehumanizing treatments imaginable.
You would think that as an exile from Tibet, which like Xinjiang is yet another autonomous region of China that knows a thing or two about Beijing-induced oppression, the Dalai Lama would show some empathy and speak up for this fellow minority group.
Not only has this 14th Dalai Lama, the self-styled Ambassador of Peace and darling of a naive liberal Western establishment that has a proven track record of being on the wrong side of history (siding with the barbaric Khmer Rouge when it took Phnom Penh, but surprised when it quickly turned agrarian Kampuchea – as Cambodia was then called – into a single killing field for its own innocent civilians) never had a single shred of legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese government (which has routinely branded him a terrorist); he has furthermore chosen to hit the self-destruct button on his own credibility and moral high ground, thus coming clean and showing his true colors once again: that of a racist and Islamophobic bigot.
The “once again” is important, as this is by no means the first instance of his Excellency talking smack: The same person who at the height of the so called “refugee crisis” of 2015 said that the EU should not send Syrians back to their home country just for being Muslim, thought one year later that there were “too many refugees in Europe.”
And by 2018 that opinionated statement had morphed into not one, but two full blown right-wing populist slogans when in September of that year he said “Europe belongs to the Europeans” and (as I am a Bengali-German with an Arabic surname, my personal favorite):
Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country. Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult.”
Statements that left me wondering: when did the Dalai Lama become an EU-policy expert?
But what is more breathtaking than Tenzin Gyatso’s bigotry is his hypocrisy: being the ultimate phoney that he is, the recent interview was given at his relatively lavish, hilltop residence in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh where he himself has been living as a refugee since 1959, the year he was forced to flee Tibet.
Take a moment and let that scene replay before your inner eye: sitting in the comfort of his host country-exile, this refugee is telling other host countries to send refugees who wish to stay in their host countries back to their own home countries. Is the Dalai Lama, at the age of 83, finally suffering from the erratic pangs of dementia? Or is he just wilfully cretinous and prone to narcissistic tendencies like Trump-groupie Kanye West?
When reminded by Ms. Vaidyanathan of this paradox of a refugee dissing refugees, he— like all populists — simply deflected the question by answering:
They themselves [the refugees], I think better in their own land. Better. Keep Europe for Europeans.”
Keep Europe for Europeans. Strong words from this Tibetan Pied Piper, the unofficial Emissary of World and Inner Peace, this Paolo Coelho of Organized Self-Help with his legions of spiritually drained New Ageists and other unmeritocratically privileged, neoliberal Westerners hanging on his every predictable word for dear life.
I’m not a specialist on Buddhism, but isn’t there something called the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right something (samadhi, that was what that something was, meditative union) if I remember correctly? Are Tibetan Buddhists exempt from that?
Call me a party pooper, but Tenzin Gyatso’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, as well as his international jetset lifestyle as a global dinner-guest dignitary, are in direct violation of at least seven of these eight commandments.
Well, if the Dalai Lama wants to put his money (of which this Western media celebrity – thanks to Hollywood Has-Beens and Buddhist lobbyists like Richard Gere – has plenty to go around..by the way, aren’t Buddhists supposed to lead frugal lives of material restraint?) where his mouth is, I think he should lead by example and go back to his native Tibet/China.
Yes, maybe it’s time for the Indian government that has been hosting this shameless self-promoter and Asian Uncle Tom for the last 60 years to start “keeping India Indian” and finally send this con artist (who like the aforementioned Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 duped the nitwits of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo into awarding him a Peace Prize just two years earlier) back to where he came from.
So, dearest “Dalai”, esteemed “Mr Lama”: until you clean up your speech and act and start adhering to the core principles of your faith, I hope you keep enjoying your well deserved samsara, that painful cycle of rebirth you Buddhists spend your earthly lives striving to break. ‘Cause you ain’t goin’ to Nirwana anytime soon.