TORCH DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO: Reader Dyema Manusov sends this report and photo:

Turn out was (and still is) amazing. As of 2:25 Pacific time it appears that the route has been diverted, so things are winding down. Seems like most of downtown SF turned out, or stood in the windows and rooftops of their office buildings. I would be surprised if any work at all got done this afternoon in the law and banking firms of the SF financial district. It seems that pretty much everybody, regardless of their background or affiliation, can agree that Tibet should be free. I guess its just one of those issues. I only saw one guy trying to conflate Tibet with Iraq or Chinese policies with US polices, and he was wearing a suit but had a home-made sign that said “First Things First: US Out of Iraq” – but he looked pretty lonely and I think I may have even heard a boo or two as he walked by. Didn’t get a picture of him unfortunately.

One bizarre thing was the fake “party” in Justin Herman Plaza, where a band was trying to rock covers of “Get Down On It” and “Lets Go Crazy” for about a hundred-fifty pro-China folks (paid shills?), while surrounded by about three thousand pro-Tibet folks.


UPDATE: A reader emails:

Your poster on torch day wondered if the pro-China folks are paid shills. I strongly doubt it, as there are plenty of PRC nationals in the bay area and they’re all anti-Tibet freedom. It’s worth mentioning that this is an issue that pretty much extends over all Chinese. “Tibet has always been a part of China” is their slogan — the historical record is pretty spotty, but that’s their really quite emotional assertion.

I’m a 2nd-gen Chinese-American; I don’t think much about these issues — it’s the privilege of being an American. But my interactions with my family and the PRC nationals that I work with tells me that the Chinese have a real fear about their territorial integrity. Between Taiwan and Tibet, they could easily lose a pretty big chunk (~10%?) of their national territory. That’s something that would give any nation pause.

I hate the PRC regime (they’ve killed my family members); I think they’re evil and I hope for their demise. But to assume that the Chinese people aren’t as nationalist as their government is wrong.

I’m sure that’s right.