Civil Liberties

Is Suu Kyi a Beautiful Flower or a Big Problem?


Considering strapping on flippers and paddling over to Suu Kyi's compound? Over at Double X, I argue that the West's obsession with Suu Kyi has done no favors for her or the rest of the Burmese people. A snippet:

 The story is much bigger than the woman it stars. And so to Westerners who work inside of Myanmar, amidst the 48 million Burmese who are not international celebrities, the American cult of Suu Kyi can seem like remote, self-referential performance art. Suu Kyi's list of vocal supporters includes Laura Bush, Jim Carrey, Sylvester Stallone, and hundreds of placard-wielding college kids around the country. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is inevitably described as "petite," "well-spoken," and most of all "elegant." "She is like a beautiful flower," John McCain told Brian Lamb in 2004.

There are candlelight vigils in Dallas and protest rallies in Toronto. There is the claim that the National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi's erstwhile party, is a vital force rather than the tired circle of septuagenarians one actually encounters at its Yangon headquarters. On Facebook, one can send a form e-mail to Than Shwe, a dictator who lives in paranoid isolation, requesting that he stop oppressing his fellow Burmese and concluding with "I look forward to hearing from you."