In defense of the Dalai, sort of (Re: Gays and the Dalai)

Frances Bolton (PHI) fbolton at
Sun Jul 5 19:56:04 PDT 1998

On Mon, 6 Jul 1998, Gary MacLennan wrote:
> It is deeply insulting for gay people that the problem which is The Dalai's
> backwardness somehow becomes owned by gay people. It is as if they
> actually believed the nonsense that the Lama is the fount of wisdom or is a
> deeply spiritual person.

How do you know that the gay people who met with the DL don't think he is a font of wisdom or a deeply spiritual person? If memory serves me correctly (and I'll go ahead and assert, memory *does* serve me correctly) the gay and lesbian people with whom he met were deeply committed to Tibetan Buddhism. That's why they got to meet the Dalai Lama, get it? I have absolutely no idea what you mean when you remark that his backwardness is "owned" by gay people.

I think your assumption that the gay people who met with the DL did so for purely political motives is itself deeply insulting. Given that they are all committed Buddhists, they might see your reference to Tibetan Buddhism" as "nonsense" as being the bigger insult.

> At least with the pope you know you are dealing with a fascist. The Dalai
> Lama is a total phoney.

This sentence is incoherent. What does the Pope have to do with the DL? And how is the DL "a total phoney?" Ad hominem attacks do not make an argument, and that's all you've done.

I am not supporting or condoning the historical Tibetan theocracy. I'm just not convinced that an obsolete/unjust political order is enough to condemn altogether the spiritual practices that are also a part of that order. The continued existence/vibrancy of Tibetan Buddhism seems to show that there is something of value there that can stand apart from the Tibetan political order.

If you can only support a movement (of any sort) if it is pure in action and motive, you're going to be standing alone. I recently returned from Cuba, where one of the other people from the US, a pretty naive grad student who apparently got her political analysis from ethics books said she couldn't support the Cuban revolutionary project because Fidel had done some bad things. You seem to be making a similar claim.

As Tony Kushner wrote in *Angels in America*, " This is... this is gastric juices churning, this is enzymes and acids, this is intestinal is what this is, bowel movement and blood-red meat--this stinks, this is *politics* the game of being alive. And you think you're...What? Above what? Above alive is what? Dead! In the clouds! You're on earth, godammit! Plant a foot, stay awhile."

The DL is a deposed king, trying to find a place for himself, and he's doing it with some dignity. He's doing some good for some people, realistically, he's really not doing anything so bad.

Save your ire for the Pope. He's got *real* money, *real* power, a *real* following, and he's doing some *real* damage. But the Dalai Lama? Gimme a break...


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list