Man, the following writing is so 2007, but I just had to unburden myself of it so I can move on. Expect more unburdening of past curiosities of mine over the next month.
T’was back when I lived in Japan that the first news began to percolate about the Chinese Communist campaign against the Falun Gong meditation sect. There were stories about torture, arrests and then, that winter (this was back in 2000-2001), a story about a Falun Gong practitioner lighting himself on fire a la a the famous Vietnamese Buddhist Monk during the Vietnam conflict. Unfortunately, unlike in the 1960’s and 1970’s when that kind of act was seen as a powerful symbolic protest against an occupying government, this particular incident was quickly framed as an example of the dangerous and crazy actions of a religious cult-droid. Falun Gong’s founder even distanced himself from this action and just as soon as it had bubbled up from the Spectacle’s waters, the story vanished under the seas of informational overload once again.
Another thing I remember particularly from this period was a matter-of-fact statement made by a New Zealander who taught English at the same school. After I’d made some comment about the nascent Chinese Communist crackdown on Falun Gong, he said, as if everyone and their mother knew it already:
“They’re a CIA front.”
I’d never even considered it. And it took me a minute to think about it before I found myself thinking it might be true.
And in the past three years, The Epoch Times, a paper that might as well be called “The Falun Gong Journal” has become a regular presence here in New York City. It’s a free paper, which makes me wonder all the more about how it is financed. Sure, in the last nine months, I’ve seen ads in its pages about ordering subscriptions for the thing and I’ve seen an occasional cover price on the thing of twenty five pennies, but you can still reach in the box and get it free.So who’s paying for it? And in these times? When The New York Times is asking for bailout money?
No other paper would put performances of traditional Chinese martial arts and dance troupes on the front page at least once a week like The Epoch Times does. Of course, these cultural groups all seem to be sponsored by New Tang Dynasty Television, which is a Chinese-language satellite television network based out of New York City that has ties to…drum roll, please… Falun Gong.
Now, The Epoch Times, dog bless ’em, obvious Falun Gong front or not, is the one paper you can find that has regular coverage of the oppression of totalitarian China. Now, maybe Falun Gong is the cult the Chinese government wants their citizens to believe it is (and, my contact with Chinese immigrants in America seems to suggest The Party has been successful in their propaganda against the movement), but it seems more a matter of the bigger, stronger, more ruthless cult not wanting any competition. At least Falun Gong doesn’t have the blood of millions on its hands. It also has cooler exercises to recommend it.
“They’re a CIA front.”
I still wonder about that statement. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Falun Gong, like the Dalai Lama, has received funding from the boys out of Langley. It certainly would explain how all their operations are funded. If that is the case, perhaps Falun Dafa’s enigmatic leader, a reclusive Chinese man living in self-exile in Manhattan, has simply made a deal to try and ensure the long-term survival and protection of his practice…and/or fiefdom. What would be so surprising about two entities using each other for what their own objectives? For CIA, that objective might be to undermine what countless of their predictive models indicate will be the next big swinging dick on the globe, the nation to take over global leadership where the U.S. left off. It might be better, from the standpoint of CIA, if their future bosses were devotees of a movement that is historically allied with them, for whatever reason. In such a scenario, maybe the new bosses might even be more apt to deal with rivals through slow movement exercises and deep breathing in the park rather than through the kind of dirty mediation that The Company has so often used itself.
Then again, what’s a random English teacher from New Zealander know about this stuff, anyway?