What to do? In 1980, President Carter told the world that the USA along with 50-60 other nations would not participate in the Games of the XXII Olympiad which were being held in a communist dictatorship in Moscow, USSR. The USSR had a history of harsh prison sentences, a lack of property rights or individual and civil liberties, and the occasional torture and execution to boot. They were also involved in an illegal war in Afghanistan. Though it was and still is a controversial decision, I believe Carter did the right thing. We would not lend credence to a government that oppressed so many people in the name of political ideology (a veiled power grab, truth be known).
Here we are, 28 years later and the Olympics are once again being held in a totalitarian communist nation. With news reports that dissidents are being jailed to prevent them from being seen protesting and making trouble on the world stage while so many nations will have cameras on them, and other news stories stating that China is restricting internet access from their people and outside news agencies, I ask: Should we be there?
From the above linked Washington Post article on dissidents being jailed:
The crackdown comes seven years after the secretary general of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee declared that staging the Games in the Chinese capital would “not only promote our economy but also enhance all social conditions, including education, health and human rights.”
Now, human rights have been set back rather than enhanced, activists say.
“The Olympics have reversed the clock,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based specialist for Human Rights in China.
Another foreign human rights advocacy group, Amnesty International, came to a similar conclusion in a report issued Monday titled “The Olympics Countdown — Broken Promises.
I really love the Olympic games. It’s great to see the spirit of competition and cooperation. You may ask, “How can we punish the athletes who are not political? How can we punish the other nations of the world and millions of proud patriotic fans by withdrawing our support?” It’s a tough pill to swallow. Someone has to pay for this atrocity that is having the olympics in an oppressive communist nation.
“Show them the spirit of freedom, open their eyes to the greatness of our free system and they will embrace and emulate us!” you say? Isn’t that like seeing someone mugged and instead of coming to the aid and defense of the innocent, we look at the attacker, walk over and hug someone and say “this is how you should treat other people”. I say we should do more than model good behavior; we should combine the modeling of good behavior with the fight against bad behavior.
I will watch and pull for the US in the Olympics this Summer. I hope we clean up in medals and especially beat the snot out of the host country. But if I had my choice, I would have preferred that the USA boycott these Olympic games and let the IOC be on notice that the world’s greatest nation will not participate in validating China’s oppressive regime.