Thursday, April 10, 2008

Olympics, Torched?

I do not agree with messing with the Olympic torch runners to protest China's effed up human rights practices! My feeling is, the torch and the Olympics do not represent only China. Olympics, is a super-duper diplomatic opportunity for people of the world (including those of us at home) to come together and get to know each other.
Cliche? Yes, so.
But, I also feel the Olympics and activities around the Olympics can be an appropriate time to bring world attention to issues of injustice. We do have the right certainly, to carry signs and march and chant and blog. Heads of State can resolve to speak on it, stay home from ceremonies or use the opportunity to meet with foreign leaders about it. Athletes should have the right to wear armbands, hats backwards, black gloves or whatever symbols of solidarity, to opening ceremonies.

But, I do not believe we should stop or tackle torch runners, disrupt ceremonies with violence, be disrespectful to fellow athletes or moon the host nation.
The Olympic commitee knew China's human rights history when they chose Beijing.

So now some say the U.S. should boycott like we did in 1980. I can't help but know that the friendships and bonds formed and the understanding of different cultures gained by participating, far out weigh any symbolic gesture of a boycott.
We didn't boycott the 1936 Berlin Olympics where Jesse Owens and other black athletes disproved Hitler's idiotic super race supremacy theory and won the respect of many German athletes and citizens.

The 1980 U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics was a part of a diplomatic package of warnings after Russia invaded Afghanistan. 62 nations joined in the total boycott while some boycotted the opening ceremony parade and others marched under the Olympic banner. The boycott was a grand gesture with little diplomatic result. The competition went on, and the athletes were in my opinion, the ones harmed.

In 1984, the Soviet Union block nations boycotted the Los Angeles Games. The world is run by such grown ups, isn't it? You don't come to mine, I won't come to yours.

Hypocracy rules as usual.
I fully understand the seriousness of the issues in Tibet. I want to protest China's horrid treatment of their own people who lost their homes to make way for new Olympic structures. Poor people, who were neither relocated or compensated for their property and are now homeless.
China wants to show through hosting the Olympics, that it's ready to join the world community. We absolutely do need to let China know that while they prepare to showcase their country, the global mainstream they want to be a part of, knows about, does not approve of, and will not accept the inhumane behavior perpertrated by their government.
But why tackle the torch runners when every damn thing in the U.S.A. is made in China. We aren't tackling Walmart greeters or Saks store clerks. We aren't marching on corporations that outsource jobs to China etc. And we aren't having "Made in China" bonfires. So why focus the protest on the Olympic torch runners? Running the torch is a rare honor for many folks across the nation and the world. Having held an actual torch myself, it's quite a once in a lifetime thrill.

I don't mean in any way to say that the Tibetan issue or Afghanistan invasion are not issues that warrent strong protest and action. and I even admit to being conflicted about boycotting. I just believe that the Olympics should be as politics free as possible. Naive? No. I just feel the good of having the Oympics outweighs the bad of not participating. The athletes have worked hard and will hopefully spread good will. And we can still find a way to get the message home.


Monica Roberts said...

You're right, Jackie. I believe that we should have competed in the 1980 Games.

All that superpower tit-fot tat hurt was the athletes. The war in Afghanistan ground on through the 1984 and 1988 Olympiads as well before Soviet troops finally withdrew in 1989

AnnMarie Kneebone said...

"Poor people, who were neither relocated or compensated for their property and are now homeless."

And I think the same thing will happen here in Chicago if we get the games.

I like the idea of boycotting the corporations who outsource to China. That'd be a helluva thing to organize!

Jackie said...

Yep and China will continue to do what they're doing. They know we can't live without them. How can America tell them anything .

Jackie said...

How did we get so dependent on another nation? Not good.

Monica Roberts said...

Personally, I hope Chicago does get the 2016 games.

Jackie said...

Wouldn't that be great!