So, last weekend, I witnessed something that I had really not expected to see. Madison is a pretty actively hippie town (I mean, it's no Boulder Colorado, but still), which results in a lot of protests/rallies/general public gatherings that have some relation to some sort of cause. I mean, there were Free Tibet rallies in Madison before it was cool.
Seriously, it was a good thing that (usually for such events) the participants were not aggressively handing out flyers. I wouldn't have had any response at hand besides, "Are you kidding?"
(They weren't kidding.)
That one is "Go Olympics! Go Badgers!" Many of the China ralliers even wore Wisconsin shirts because--fortuitously!--they're red. Other signs included:
one with some slogan I can't remember about being pro-peace/anti-riot;
the unintentionally-scariest one, which read "One Dream/One World/One China";
the informational poster telling its readers that Tibet has been a part of China since the 1300s (neglecting, I'm sure, that military force has also been necessary to keep that true for centuries)
and the one that genuinely made me angry, which was "Judgement without Evidence is Ignorance" (because, hey, let's think--why is there a lack of first-hand evidence about what's going in Tibet? Hmm, that's a tricky one. It sure couldn't be a Classic Commie Media Stonewall, could it?).
Another observation: the pro-China people were uniformly Chinese people. Pro-Tibet people are mostly people of Chinese descent, but with others mixed in, too; the pro-China ralliers all appeared to be exchange students, either from the main UW campus or who had shown up from other UW branch campuses (I saw a bunch of UW-Platteville t-shirts, for instance).
Now, I'm sure the pro-China people are nice people. Nothing ugly or violent went down--there was a pro-Tibet rally going on at the same time (not a coincidence, I feel sure; somebody from the Tibet camp got on a microphone to introduce a speaker they'd brought in and she reminded the China group that the Tibet people had a permit to be there and the China people did not). There was some pretty fervent chanting at some point, but it dissapated when the microphone person asked it to.
Also, I get it that it would be pretty frustrating to be abroad just when everybody is dogpiling on your country. Still though, there's liking your country and there's self-delusion. I feel like both sides were represented at the rally. In my admittedly rough estimation, the people defending China's right to host the Olympics belong to the former, while the people equating Tibet with violence and China with peace are suffering from the latter.