Radical Chic - PDF

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Description: How different it has been for Lucy Fairbrother, the British 23-year-old Free Tibet protester who was deported from Beijing after hanging a banner reading Tibet will be free" outside the Bird's Nest stadium. On Aug. 6, two days before the Olympic Games kicked off, Fairbrother and three other Free Tibet activists scaled 120-foot-tall lighting poles close to the stadium and unfurled their banner for the clicking cameras of the world media Overnight, Lucy-the daughter of a former director of Barings Bank-was transformed into aplucky hero. Upon her arrival at London City Airport, she was snapped by swarms of paparazzi and asked for her views on the future of China and Tibet Her grinning mug shot graced the pages of every newspaper the following day, where she was described as "brave," "committed," and the "best of British." Her mother beamed with pride. "I'm so proud of her. She is doing what she feels is right, and what I feel is right," she declared. Normally, parental approval would sound the death knell to the career of any self-respecting protester, yet in the Tale of Lucy Fairbrother, her mother's voice merely joined the deafening chorus of approval.Though the campaign has the word "free" in its title, the Free Tibet lobby has little to say about political freedom in Tibet. It rarely demands that Tibetans be granted the right to vote or organize their own protests. Instead, it focuses on protecting the "cultural integrity" of Tibet and the religious freedom of its Buddhist monks. Students for a Free Tibet, an international group of which Lucy Fairbrother is a member, frets that Chinese development in Tibet-including its "extraction of natural resources" and its "large-scale infrastructure projects"will "erase existing socio-cultural and political divisions between China [and Tibet]." Tellingly, activists refer to China's presence in Tibet as a form of "cultural genocide," where the alleged hampering of ancient practices, rather than the denial of democratic rights,
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