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Is the Dalai Lama a monumental fraud?

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The Dalai Lama blew into town yesterday, and folks here in Louisville responded with what can only be characterized as messianic zeal. Sunday afternoon, he appeared before an enthusiastic throng of 17,000 at the KFC Yum! Center, and the stream of people waiting in line in the hot sun stretched around the block and across the Second Street Bridge, half-way to Indiana. Church leaders and local politicians literally tripped over one another to get on stage for a benediction/photo-op with the 77 year-old Buddhist monk.

Lhamo Dondrub--who claims to be the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama--brought his fund-raising circus to River City (trinkets and pamphlets, photos and audiotapes, for sale in the lobby) to plead for peace and compassion, and to rally support for his long-awaited return to power in Tibet; after the Chinese government kicked him out in 1959.

But there is a lot less to His Holiness the Dalai Lama than meets the eye. If people had even an inkling of what a sordid history precedes this huckster, the lines outside the Yum! Center would be considerably shorter.

Most of the Dalai Lama's American friends received what little knowledge they have about this charlatan from watching movies like "Seven Years in Tibet," "Kundun," and " Shangri-La." Or, they may have heard some Hollywood-types like Marlon Brando and Richard Gere propagandizing on the talk shows about the tragic removal of the Dalai Lama from power, by the evil communist Chinese.

In point of fact, Tibet has been a semi-autonomous province of China for over a thousand years. Until 1959, it was ruled as a theocratic dictatorship, with over ninety percent of the population living as serfs in a feudalistic system of involuntary servitude. Workers were routinely bought and sold as slaves, and punishments for speaking irreverently about the Dalai Lama included eye-gouging and tongue removal. Amputation of hands and feet were commonplace punishments for even minor criminal infractions.

After 1949, the Chinese government started bring reforms to Tibet. It instituted a land reform program to end feudalism and transfer small arable plots of land to the peasants. Generational debt for taxes was abolished, along with slavery and extreme forms of punishment and mutilation. Free schools were constructed across Tibet, along with paved roads, hospitals, rail lines, airports, and rural electrification. The first municipal water and sewer systems were installed, and a telephone service was created. China has invested 310 billion yuan (about 45.6 billion U.S. dollars) in Tibet since 2001. Tibet's GDP was expected to reach 43.7 billion yuan in 2009, up 170 percent from that in 2000 and posting an annual growth of 12.3 percent over the following nine years.

Naturally, the Tibetan landlords and the Buddhist hierarchy--including the Dalai Lama and his minions--violently resisted these reforms, and, by 1955, were in open rebellion against the Chinese government. Aided by Allen Dulles and his Central Intelligence Agency, the ruling Buddhist elite waged a series of bloody battles against the Chinese government. When it was over, the Chinese estimated that as many as 100,000 Tibetans had been killed in the insurrection. The Dalai Lama continues to claim that more than one million Tibetans were massacred by Chinese troops; although that figure is in doubt, due to the fact that Tibet's population at the end of the Second World War was only 1.5 million, and today is approaching 3 million.

Well, we should at least respect the Dalai Lama for fighting those evil Chinese commies, right? Not exactly. The Dalai Lama has continuously referred to himself as a Marxist and has been a vociferous critic of capitalism. He has written: "Of all the modern economic theories, the economic system of Marxism is founded on moral principles, while capitalism is concerned only with gain and profitability. Marxism is concerned with the distribution of wealth on an equal basis and the equitable utilisation of the means of production. It is also concerned with the fate of the working classes—that is, the majority—as well as with the fate of those who are underprivileged and in need, and Marxism cares about the victims of minority-imposed exploitation. For those reasons the system appeals to me, and it seems fair."

His position on other controversial issues seems to fluctuate according to which group he is addressing. Overseas, and in his writings, he equates abortion to murder, and calls homosexuality a sin and a crime. When speaking to U.S. audiences, however, he says he favors abortion when a child will be born "retarded," or when the birth will be an unnecessary inconvenience to the mother. He now says he supports gay marriage, and even calls himself a "feminist" (despite the fact that women were bought and sold as slaves when he ruled Tibet, and polygamy was widely practiced).

In a 1999 Washington Post article titled, In Tibet, a Struggle of the Soul, writer John Pomfret observed: "While love for the Dalai Lama overflows in Tibet, few Tibetans would welcome a return of the corrupt aristocratic clans that fled with him in 1959 and that comprise the bulk of the Dalai’s advisers. Many Tibetan farmers, for example, have no interest in surrendering the land they gained during China’s land reform to the aristocratic clans. Tibet’s former slaves say they, too, don’t want their former masters to return to power."

And yet, our government continues to support this deposed dictator with taxpayer largesse. In Change, Conflict and Continuity among a Community of Nomadic Pastoralist: A Case Study from Western Tibet, 1950-1990, author Melvyn, C. Goldstein describes how the CIA, until just recently, paid the Dalai Lama a personal annual salary of $150,000. Now, "...the National Endowment for Democracy and other conduits that are more respectable sounding than the CIA, the U.S. Congress continue to allocate an annual $2 million to Tibetans in India, with additional millions for 'democracy activities' within the Tibetan exile community. In addition to these funds, the Dalai Lama receives money from financier George Soros."

All in all, His Holiness is a pretty nasty piece of work. Dispelled from his bloody theocratic dictatorship, this "reincarnated" demigod now roams the earth--and places like Louisville--looking for suckers who are ignorant enough of his past and true nature to fork over their dough for a chance to listen to this fraud prattle on about "compassion" and "contemplation." Heck, he's not even a real vegetarian: He refused a vegetable plate and ordered a meat course when he visited President Obama at the White House last year.

The foregoing to the contrary notwithstanding, we are compelled to report that His Holiness the Dalai Lama claims to wash his feet every six months in accordance to his beliefs where, "a dirty foot is a pure foot."

Read more: The Shadow of the Dalai Lama, by Victor & Victoria Trimondi

Read more: Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth, by Michael Parenti

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