This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 423,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How would Jack Bauer free Tibet?

Why is the world picking on the People’s Republic of China leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing?

For a country with 1.3 billion people to protect, feed and force into sweatshops to manufacture Western goods — such as your shoes, watchband or every plastic thing in your kitchen — you have to admire the PRC’s efficiency.

Production quotas and six-day, 12-hour work days get things done for those proud Americans with five-day, eight-hour workdays and addictions to “24.”

If Jack Bauer knows the world is harsh, shouldn’t we?

From the state of China’s perspective, what’s the harm in oppressing a nonviolent ethnic minority here or there, crushing unarmed student protestors or blocking Google searches about “Sedona vortices” to keep the peace?

Independent thought and differing ideas cause problems, plain and simple.

Political dissent and free speech must be restrained and controlled for the state to flourish. Hence the reason Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act, whose theft of American liberties is only topped by the sheer, kneejerk brilliance of turning it into an acronym: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

Seriously, that’s what it stands for.

Imagine being in the room with the guys during the six hours it took to come up with that title not realizing the Bush Administration official who said, “Hey, now, make it an acronym,” was just kidding.

In 2005, Reporters Without Borders’ Annual Worldwide Freedom Press Index ranked the PRC 159th out of 167 countries.

The Chinese Communist Party restricts most access to news deemed a threat to national security.

Few Chinese have met Westerners.

Right now, the average Chinese have access to state-run news which tells them Tibet was never independent, asked for PRC support to resist Western imperialism in the 1950s and wants to break away, due to a secretly militant and nationalist Dalai Lama.

History gets fuzzy when it keeps changing, much like recollections of past ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends change when your current partner asks for details.

The state of China and the Chinese people need to be treated as two separate parties as we approach the games.

Most Americans these days don’t want foreigners to confuse their ideologies with those of President George W. Bush, thus the reason some Americans wear red maple leaf patches when they tour Europe.

Hate the war, love the soldier.

The Chinese see images of foreigners the world over trying to douse the Olympic flame or statements like, “Our government should boycott the Beijing games …,” however, the state of China carefully neglects the context of “… because the Chinese government has oppressed, silenced and killed Tibetans for 50 years.”

Protesters would do better to silently protest the passing Olympic torch with signs reading “Question Your Government” and “Dissent is Necessary,” “Demand Free Speech” — of course written in Mandarin — and hope to get caught on camera.

“Free Tibet” bumper stickers help pay manufacturers to make more “Free Tibet” bumper stickers but do little to actually free Tibet.

One-sixth of the world’s population wakes up with a photo of Chairman Mao on the mantle. They support their government because there is little or no access to the outside world.

Bitter street protests in San Francisco or Paris make rabble-rousers feel self-satisfied, but to the average potential Chinese dissident watching on television, the Western countries seem like tribes of self-righteous jerks, which helps neither Tibet nor the average Chinese.

Rather than boycott the games, more Westerners should go. For many Chinese, the 2008 Olympics may be the first face-to-face contact with Westerners.

An old friend of mine returned to Sedona after a few months in the Far East. In China, he was asked bluntly and naively, “Tiananmen, did that happen?”

For Westerners, the oppression in Tibet, the massacre of students in Tiananmen Square and Beijing’s efforts to limit free speech and dissent are old news. To the Chinese, they are rumors desperately seeking confirmation.

The right words at the right time could do more than a full day of tear-gas-filled fun on the Champs-Élysées.

Communist China is a doomed creature, whether it happens in the slow progression toward capitalism or with a violent overthrow by the people.

Either way, this summer’s celebration of the best achievements the human body can perform could be a tool to show the Chinese what’s possible from free minds.

Ask yourself, “How would Jack Bauer free Tibet?”


Deciphering Sedona is published every Wednesday in the Sedona Red Rock News. To comment, e-mail to cgraham@larsonnewspapers.com.

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