No, not really.
Sandy writes today from the southern tier of upstate New York to ask:
Would you provide me with more details on the non-violent rally for peace scheduled for Thursday, July 6, 2011, in Washington, DC?
Sandy’s question is a legitimate one; if you’ve read the Huffington Post, you’ve been told that “The Dalai Lama will visit Washington next month for an 11-day peace rally that is being billed as ‘the largest gathering for world peace in history.'” That would have to be a very big rally, considering that on February 15 2003, a whopping 3 million people gathered to rally against war in the city of Rome. Visit the website for the event, Kalachakra 2011, and you’ll find out that it’s being held in the Verizon Center in Washington DC, which has a capacity of just 20,500. This hype is a first indication of something woolly.
A second indication that something’s not exactly right: you have to buy a ticket to attend the “peace rally.” The affair is actually an for-pay event at the Verizon Center in DC scheduled by the Dalai Lama and charging ticket prices of up to $506.90 to attend. The cost of the venue has already been paid separately by hundreds of individual and corporate sponsors, taking away that excuse for the high ticket price. Kalachakra organizers are still milking donors for money, telling them that by giving money to the Kalachakra, they “thereby gain infinite good merit.” Traditional peace rallies in DC, such as the upcoming Seize DC nonviolent protest on September 10 and the October 6 anti-war convergence in Freedom Plaza are public events open to all that do not charge any money for admittance.
And how is this event planning to rally for peace? Tibetan Buddhist monks will chant and make a mandala, and then after a birthday celebration in his honor the Dalai Lama will hold lectures in which he explains Buddhism as he understands it. After that, the monks will dance.
If you want to pay hundreds of dollars for all this, I’m not going to stop you. If you’re looking for an actual peace rally that isn’t about raking in cash from dupes, think about the September 10 and October 6 protests. Unlike the chantfest inside the walls of the Verizon Center, these events will be actually be seen and heard by the White House, in the streets of DC.