Tibet's 'charms' in a Westerner's eyes
Liberals hold out Tibet and the Dalai Lama as paragons of virtue and spirituality. But how accurate are those characterizations? They're obviously accurate when Tibet and the Dalai Lama are compared to China and Mao, whose horrific human rights abuses rival those of the world's most brutal regimes. But when Tibet is compared to Western nations, its charms leave much to be desired, according to accounts provided by noted anthropologist Frank Bessac, whose obituary ran in Sunday's New York Times.
(A)s the party was setting up camp, a Tibetan military patrol approached and, mistaking the travelers for bandits or Communists, opened fire. Mr. MacKiernan was killed along with two other men, becoming the first C.I.A. officer to die in the line of duty. Mr. Bessac, at the time a couple of hundred yards away, heard the shots, raced toward the gunmen and confronted them waving a white flag.The killings, which the Tibetans recognized almost immediately as tragic errors, were not reported in the West until months later.
When Mr. Bessac and the other surviving member of the party, Vasili Zvansov, a Russian who had been shot in the leg, arrived in Lhasa a few weeks later, Tibetan officials suggested to them a range of appropriate punishments for the patrolmen. These included gouging out their eyes and having their ears, noses or limbs cut off. Mr. Bessac wrote that he assented to the lighter penalty of flogging."I watched and enjoyed the whole proceeding," he wrote in the Life article, though in his book his reaction was somewhat revised."It was deeply terrifying and degrading, also for me," he wrote. "When the flogging of the four horsemen was over, to my surprise the men came over to me and thanked me for saving their lives."