51 Years Later

Thursday, February 18, 2010
The National Endowment for Democracy's Carl Gershman wrote a great editorial in The Washington Post entitled, "The Dalai Lama's Principled Pursuit of Democracy."

For 51 years, the pursuit of human rights and democracy in Tibet has remained amongst the world's noblest causes.

It has also served as an inspiration for the perseverant struggle of repressed peoples throughout the world, including those who have (similarly) suffered for 51 years under Cuba's dictatorship.

Gershman wrote:

Now that the White House has announced that President Obama will receive the Dalai Lama, it is important that he be welcomed not only as a moral and religious leader respected throughout the world but also as a fellow democrat who shares America's deepest values.

This is not an aspect of the Dalai Lama that is well understood, especially by those who see him as the spiritual leader of a traditional people. Yet he is a devoted democrat who has defended the universality of the democratic idea against the "Asian values" argument of various autocrats and who has tried, even before he fled Tibet in 1959, to modernize Tibet's system of government [...]

President Obama should use the occasion of the Dalai Lama's visit to express America's strong support for him and what he represents: genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people and reconciliation with China, moral courage in the pursuit of justice, and the values of democracy and human liberty. It is not just for the Dalai Lama's sake that he should be welcomed in this manner but also for our own.