09 August, 2008

Olympics of Fraud

With the games underway I am reminded of an article I wrote my senior year of college saying that because of the human rights in China the U.S. (and others) should boycott the Olympics. Well, that didn’t happen, and it’s been really hard for me to watch the apparent and outright blatant human rights abuses being reported on TV like recipes or the weather.

China put up walls to keep the “less than desirable” out. (NYTimes 7/29)

China displaced thousands (upon thousands) to build the Bird Nest and other Olympic venues. Many are now homeless, without work, and deemed unacceptable to their country. They were only given moments before bulldozers destroyed their homes taking with it the few items they did own. They have been given no compensation for their loss; the government has turned their back on the powerless.

In the opening ceremonies China praised its culture and minority groups – with many little girls in costume, dancing around. Funny, those are two groups of people China is not very friendly too at any other point. And that cute little earthquake survivor paraded around like a symbol of what China DIDN’T do – it’s lack of really helping making Katrina looking like operation perfection.

It managed to censor internet sites for the media (Reuters 7/29 ; NYTimes 7/29) It has told reporters they will be kicked out if they go outside the Olympic village, prohibits Olympians from speaking out against the human rights violations.

Even the air has become an issue PC-ed in China. It cut car usage in Beijing before the games (as if that helps!) and US cyclists had to apologize for wearing masks when they landed. (Wall Street Journal 8/6). And yet it is the IOC is liable if any health issues arise.

The theme of this Olympics is the APPEARANCE of correctness. It has gone overboard to present China as “it should be.” It has covered up everything that doesn’t measure up and has painted over the gaping cracks in the wall. Beijing is being held together by tape. The President has twice spoken about the need for freedom reforms in China and while the Chinese government rebuked him saying that outsiders should not get involved with internal affairs – they brought out all the bells and whistles for the opening of the new American embassy.

But not all are fooled. Edward McMillian-Scott of The Guardian tries to bring our attention back with his op-ed. HRW and Amnesty have come out blasting the games and China. When China was awarded the Olympics seven years ago it promised to make certain changes. Changes, Amnesty points out, it has failed at.

I realize now that Olympic athletes are on contract and couldn’t have easily boycotted. But the U.S. has boycotted before. But that’s harder to do when you are in bed with the hosting country. How many trillions of dollars does China have? How many of our companies have factories and plants over there? We have, in some ways, made a deal with the devil and now the US has to follow through. But it is shocking to me that while China keeps Zimbabwe from facing repercussions from its election tampering (The Guardian 7/12) and tried to send arms to the dictatorship to use on its own people – that we (as the U.S. and the world!) aren’t looking elsewhere to invest! We aren’t looking at moving our plants to South Africa or Brazil or India. We aren’t slowly moving our money away. Our President will come out and say freedom is good, but he won’t boycott the games. We can’t sanction them, we can’t “offend” them, we cannot call a spade a spade.

And yet, who really cares? The Olympics are a show and China has proven themselves to be wonderful story tellers. They have told everyone that they’re an okay place – and they don’t even have to include wool for our eyes. We blindly accept and acknowledge their lie, reaching for another bit of the tainted carrot they’ve put before us.