Wednesday, July 2, 2008
36 days to go until the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The world's greatest athletes will meet on the world's biggest stage to vie for laurels and boasting rights. For many, it's the culmination of their life's work. But this year's games have been harried by controversy. China, the host of the games, has had to fend off critiques of the air quality in Beijing, as well as protests against the government and the human rights abuses committed in Tibet. Steven Spielberg, film maker and art director of the 2008 games, resigned the position in protest after his plea that China cease its support of the government-backed genocide in Darfur fell on deaf ears. The Olympic Torch's round-the-world run was greeted with massive protests and riots in many cities, prompting heavy security and even secrecy. China, which regards the games as proof that the nation has entered into a global playing field, both economically and culturally, has had a difficult time dealing with the various issues. So what should the U.S. do about it?
The question is basically irrelevant, as the U.S. has already fully committed itself to the games. But looking back, I think the right choice would have been to boycott the Olympic Games. We regard ourselves as a bastion of democracy and a champion of human rights, and the Chinese government's civil rights abuses fly in the face of everything we stand for. The Tibet protests sparked a government crackdown that resulted in thousands of deaths and the imprisonment of many others. The government-run genocide in Darfur, Sudan, which the Chinese government supports, has taken over half a million lives and displaced over 2.5 million people. And the Chinese still face persecution by their own government. Protesters are treated harshly, and Chinese Christians are martyred regularly. The U.S. has done virtually nothing to protest these acts. In order to be consistent with the positions we stand for, the U.S. should have pulled out of the games. The country withdrew from the 1980 games in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The atrocities the People's Republic of China are committing are at least on level with that invasion.
On the Beijing Olympics website, the tagline is: One World, One Dream. the tagline seems to promote a peaceful world. But the Chinese government seems to reject this idea whole-heartedly. In my opinion, the U.S. missed an opportunity by not boycotting the 2008 Games.