In every story there is a villain, and his adversary is either a hero or a hapless victim. But we don’t live in a story.
Most people with democratic opinions see the Chinese government as a group of autocratic villains with a history of persecuting good people. When such a government persecutes a religious movement, it’s easy to assume that this movement must be quite nice. This not necessarily the case.
The much-publicised and long-standing conflict between the Chinese authorities and Falun Gong is an example of a nasty autocratic regime persecuting a nasty manipulative cult. Falun Gong’s leader Li Hongzhi preaches racism, anti-science, space aliens possessing humans, the emotions of plants, the ability to evade gravity and to walk through walls. His word carries absolute authority within the movement, as he is held to be the only person ever to understand the laws of the universe. “Whoever believes Falun dafa is just a health movement is the most worthless of living beings”, the cult’s web site used to explain. Think of it as Chinese Scientology or Raelianism.
The cult has put on a traveling show named the “Shen Yun Divine Performing Arts Chinese Spectacular”. Who really lies behind the show isn’t readily apparent from the posters, as it lists mainly newspapers and other media companies (Epoch Times, New Tang Dynasty Television and others) as its supporters. These are all, however, controlled by Falun Gong, and that’s where the profits end up.
The Shen Yun Chinese Spectacular visits Stockholm from 24 to 26 March and Linköping on 27 March. Wherever you are, Dear Reader, think twice before buying a ticket if the Spectacular comes your way.
Update 12 March: Here’s a recent New York Times story describing what the propaganda shows are like.