Monday, April 23, 2007

Google, Tibet killers

Google is killing Tibet. Excerpt:
Cultural genocide is a scandalous charge. But what exactly does it mean? Raphael Lemkin, a legal scholar, was the first to use this term in 1933. Mr. Lemkin had some expertise on the topic both as an intellectual and as a Holocaust witness. According to Lemkin, the term means the "deliberate destruction of the cultural heritage of a people or nation for political or military reasons." Since no recognized academics dispute that "historic Tibet" has been subject to government-sponsored population relocation programs, creative map-drawing, and wholesale destruction of its cultural institutions, then by definition cultural genocide has taken place...

In 1950, the People's Liberation Army "peacefully liberated" Tibet, something akin to saying that Adolf Hitler was a good friend of European Jewry. From 1950 to date, 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a result of mass slaughter, imprisonment, or starvation; 7.5 million Han Chinese have migrated into historic Tibet, now appended to Sichuan, Yunan, and Gansu provinces, and the more recently chartered province of Qinhai; over three thousand Buddhist monasteries have been razed and their cultural properties destroyed or plundered; and iconic religious leaders -- the recognized figureheads of traditional Tibetan culture -- have been forced into exile, imprisoned, executed, or kidnapped.

Cultural genocide is subtler than physical genocide -- its tools are less obvious. So now China can extend its dilution of Tibetan culture into cyberspace with expert assistance. Google has agreed to filter out every aspect of Tibetan life that the Chinese government finds offensive, leaving only propaganda, misrepresentations, and outright lies about Tibet and Tibetans. It's amazing. The Tibetan people spent thousands of years developing their history and culture, and Google managed to make it disappear in little more than a year with only a few algorithms.

For those of you in Indianapolis, are you going to see the mandala by the Gomang monks? It's pretty sweet... Barring that, visit Emory with me in October to see the Dalai Lama.

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