March 12th, 2010 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Politics

READ THE EMAIL: One Portlander's Soundoff on City Hall's Tibet Foray


Here's one Southeast Portland resident's take on the controversial decision by the City Council — led, in this case, by Commissioner Randy Leonard — to declare March 10 as Tibet Awareness Day in Portland.

The council's proclamation — which stated outright that Tibet is independent — drew fire from the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco as well as local Chinese leaders.

Here's the letter, which was emailed on Tuesday to Leonard and the other members of the City Council:
Dear Commissioner Leonard,

It is always unfortunate when governments exceed their authority. No, I'm not talking about China, as it relates to Tibet. I'm talking about the Portland City Council as it relates to this resolution.

Tibet was, for more than 200 years during the Chin Dynasty, which was formally negotiated by a much earlier Dalai Lama and remains today, politicly a part of China. That will never change.

By contrast, America's aboriginal peoples, the tribes, never asked for the US political systemwhy not a resolution to free all former Indian lands? (including Portland). No, this is much easier, a preachy resolution to please your constituents, but with no actual skin in the game.

At a very fundimental level, Portland will never be a major global city if it can't resist messing in political matters where it has no business and very little understanding. I have been to the Tibetan plateau. Its not what you think. Tibetan Buddhism is not universally loved. the Dalai Lama is not universally loved. In fact, the other minorities prefer being under Chinese rule, and fear, in some cases, a return of the structured Theocratic rule of Tibetan Buddhism.

Mr. Leonard, are you personally aware of a Theocratic government that you would characterize as 'enlightened'? In the middle east perhaps? One of the rare areas where the United States and The People's Republic of China shares basic governing principles, both constitutionally enumerated, is in the belief of separation of church and state. Why would Portland or any city government in the United Statesseek to undermine that basic principle anywhere in the world?

This will hurt Portland globally. Many of our best business and economic opportunities are in China. China has been Oregon's number one export market. That can change. No business partner wants to be insulted by their foreign trading partner. Reverse the situationwould Portland businesses, or indeed, the population at large take kindly to a Chinese resolution condemning America's treatment of the Warm Springs Indians?

And this is such a politically immature move. Mr. Leonard, can you imagine for one second, Seattle doing this? With billions of Boeing and Microsoft exports hanging in the balance?

But thats the difference between Gary Locke and company, vs. Portland's city council, its the difference between an exciting world class global city, and a struggling, but pleasant regional backwater, and unless attitudes change, it always will be.

Sincerely, Kim Lathrop

(The photo shows Tibetan protesters outside City Hall and a delegation from the Chinese Consulate on their way into meetings with Leonard and Mayor Sam Adams to discuss the Tibet resolution on March 8. Photo courtesy of the Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association.)
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