Climbing from the Gutter

This is a guest post by Ben Cohen of Z Word

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was “Tintin in Tibet”, a rollicking tale of how the tufted one treks through the Himalayas in order to rescue his pal Chang, the sole survivor of a plane crash. Published in 1959, the same year that Chinese forces invaded Tibet, the book was not just a breathtaking introduction to the perils of mountaineering. It was instrumental in establishing an emotional bond between western readers and the Tibetan people. Indeed, the Dalai Lama recognized as much when he gave the book an award three years ago.

You could reasonably assume that of all the myriad pursuits available to humanity, mountaineering is one which has an obvious affinity with the Tibetan cause. So what are we to make of the news that a mountaineering equipment cooperative in Vancouver is considering a ban not on Chinese products, but Israeli ones?

Reports the JTA:

“The Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) will likely propose the motion April 30 at its annual general meeting in Vancouver, the Vancouver Sun reported.

Members of the Vancouver Teachers for Peace and Global Education, many of whom are members of the co-op, will likely introduce the motion.

The chain sells seamless underwear and a hydration system for hikers and bikers produced in Israel.”

I looked at some of these products on the coop’s website. They do sell a range of materials produced in Israel. They also – look at the bottom of this page – sell quite a few products made in the country that has ravaged Tibet for the last fifty years.

I’m not, by the way, advocating a boycott of Chinese goods. I’m just pointing out that double standards like these – coming from people who climb mountains and advocate “global education” at the same time – are almost comical. As the Calgary Herald says, “if MEC members can stomach bounding over the West Coast’s foggy trails in Chinese-made togs while the Chinese are harvesting the organs of the Falun Gong, what’s the problem with seamless Israeli underwear?”

Captain Haddock would have one part of the answer. It’s because these boycotters are troglodytes and ectoplasms.