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The Dalai Lama Does New York

NEW YORK CITY -- The Dalai Lama is in town speaking to packed crowds at Radio City Music Hall. I have heard him lecture a couple of times and thought he was good but not fantastic. Then last year I was with a small group of ten people in India and we met with His Holiness, The Dalai Lama for a little over an hour. I came away completely awestruck by his knowledge and spirituality. He was funny, kind and had a deep understanding of human nature and the broader implications of why we reside on this planet. His Holiness is very open, he does not see things through a rigid lens the way many spiritual and religious leaders do. He is not concerned about dogma and more concerned about morality and compassion.

I went away deeply impressed. He has even seen a silver lining in the Chinese cloud by telling us that he would have been a meditating monk had he not had to escape from Tibet, but now people the world over learn about Tibetian Buddhist teachings.

It is with this experience that I am so disappointed with the Obama administration. The president met with His Holiness, had a photo released and then had His Holiness leave by the side door. 

I am also disappointed with some of the people who justified the war in Iraq with tales of how Saddam tortured people and have done nothing to protest the torture of Tibetians by the Chinese.

I have traveled twice to Dharamsala, India where the Tibetian Government in Exile and the Dalai Lama live. The stories of torture by the Buddhist nuns and priest are horrifying. The Chinese government has justified its actions by saying that it saved the people of Tibet from a feudal system and now everyone has access to education and health care. What may have been a very backwards system sixty years ago does not justify occupation and torture of the Tibetians.

In our government's interest in getting China to cooperate on very sticky foreign policy issues such as Iran and North Korea we have abandoned our moral stance on torture. It was a good enough reason to invade Iraq but not good enough to let the Dalai Lama leave by the White House's front door. 

However, I am hopeful that the thousands of people who hear his message this week will pressure members of Congress and President Obama to stick to our stated values and not let an entire population have their culture and religion be at the mercy of the Chinese government.

Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief of Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor. 

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Ellen Ratner joined FOX News Channel as a contributor in October 1997.