It wasn’t exactly “Make America Great Again,” but one of the spiritual leaders most revered by liberals sounded surprisingly Trump-like during recent comments about immigration.
The Dalai Lama, the iconic figure who heads Tibetan Buddhism and is seen as a respected voice for non-violent living, recently raised eyebrows after he seemed to imply that immigrants rushing into Europe should eventually turn around and go home.
“Asked about rising levels of African refugees and migrants entering Europe, the Dalai Lama said […] the migrants should return to ‘their own land,’ with only ‘a limited number’ allowed to stay on the continent,” CNN reported.
“The whole Europe [will] eventually become Muslim country? Impossible. Or African country? Also impossible,” the spiritual leader said during a BBC interview. He also noted that the best approach would be to “keep Europe for Europeans.”
It isn’t the first time he’s made that type of comment. The 83-year-old, who is believed by his followers to be the 14th reincarnation of the same leader, made similar statements last year.
“[U]ltimately they should develop their own country,” the Dalai Lama said during a 2018 conference, according to The Independent. “I think Europe belongs to the Europeans.”
But the monk probably won’t be donning a red “MAGA” hat any time soon. While he did seem to back national nativism in his interview, he also seemed to contradict himself at other times.
“[T]he Dalai Lama said Europe should take them in and offer them education and training,” CNN reported.
“Receive them, help them, educate them … but ultimately they should develop their own country,” The Independent quoted the leader as saying last year in his similar comments.
How that meshes with Europe belonging to the Europeans is a bit vague, and it’s worth noting that the Tibetan monk himself is a refugee who has so far refused to return to his home country due to political instability.
And it’s very possible that his statements were supposed to be a bit like mystical tea leaves, allowing people to interpret them in more than one way. For a leader who believes that he has roamed the earth since the 1300s, nothing is in simple black and white.
But what these comments do show is that right-leaning views on mass immigration are hardly extremist or hateful.
In fact, many conservatives have long repeated similar themes: We can be compassionate toward the downtrodden while still recognizing the importance of borders and distinct nations.
Liberals have respected the Dalai Lama for decades, with Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama being particularly strong fans of the spiritual icon.
If preserving Tibet’s culture is so important, why can’t native Europeans seek the same for their own countries?
Why can’t Americans seek to conserve the great aspects of America, and Mexicans stand for a strong Mexico?
We won’t presume to speak for the Dalai Lama, but it certainly looks like he doesn’t see anything wrong with that view.
And that’s the point: The narrative that supporting one’s home country is “hateful” is crumbling, and people are realizing that pride in their national culture isn’t off limits after all.
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