Bill Maher recent welcomed the somewhat-far-from-non-unknown actor Waldo Williams to a heated debate.
Williams was to serve as a leading character in a patronizing, sub-Richard Gere, thinly-veiled political advocacy movie from Hollywood, entitled:
Spiritual Xinjiang: The Steppe Fox Howls.
But after a few day of filming this sanctimonious puff-piece about this majority-Muslim area of the People’s Republic of China, Williams said:
This is one opportunity for shameless self-promotion and self-enhancement of one’s ethical credentials and charisma that any actor with the slightest concern for his public image will be deeply honoured to renounce.
So please remember this, whenever you write this up in the media. I don’t want anyone to distort my highly principled and ethical act of artistically dispassionate detachment.
However, a large number of frustrated university undergraduates have threatened to bring down the entire educational systems of several countries, in order to hold Williams to account, and to shout over the top of the people they are silencing “speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.”
Finding a good opportunity to derail the Xinjiang to dwell on his past “glories” as an entirely disinterested and objective Tibet advocate, Williams told Maher:
I mean, I thought these guys were genuinely spiritual, you know like His Holiness. But all I saw were stern, pompous, miserable clerics wandering around in funny hats, and lecturing people on what to do. Absolutely NOTHING LIKE HH! You know, I think these people should learn from the Tibetans, or maybe, you know, the Episcopalians…
Or maybe even pre-Vatican II Catholics and fundamentalist evangelicals, at a push!
Notable Japanese nationalist Otakuno Akihabara sneered in response:
People wandering around in funny hats and lecturing people? Oh, c’mon! You have got to be kidding me! Have you ever actually been to Tibet? That’s what those backward, ignorant savages do all the time!
No, of course, I haven’t been to Tibet! Are you kidding me? Why the hell would I want to do that! I mean, it’s like, 10 000 feet up there or something! My ass would just freeze to death in all that snow! They’d have to get a stunt artist to impersonate me, and make a nice long spiel on how much I actually give two flying, freaking, crapola-poppalongs about all those random, vaguely oppressed foreign folk that I’ve never met, and in all probability, never will!
Bill Maher interceded:
Look, Otakuno, don’t tar all Tibetans with the same brush. I mean, maybe just focus on the moderate ones, not the fundies. I mean, Tibetan Buddhism just can’t be as monolithic as you are saying it is, right?
There is no such thing as a moderate Tibetan! By definition! It’s the so-called “moderates” who make it easy for the outright fanatical extremists.
At this, Bill Maher threw up his hands in despair.
You know what? That’s the most simplistic, sweeping argument I’ve ever had in my life. I’m about done with you folks! I mean, I would never dream of saying anything like that! I mean, not once! Not ever!
The debate has not been well received by…
Well, by pretty much anyone.
So, it turns out that partisan POV-pushing on the Tibet and Xinjiang issue doesn’t really do anyone any favors.
But maybe that idea is too radical for not a few individuals in prominent European and North American countries.
So, could it actually be that hardcore radicalism is never quite so radical as it seems?!