We Don’t Want To Go To China
Anne Applebaum at The Washington Post takes a critical look at some Olympic fallacies:
“The Olympics are a force for good.” Not always! The 1936 Olympics, held in Nazi Germany, were an astonishing propaganda coup for Hitler. It’s true that the star performance of Jesse Owens, the black American track-and-field great, did shoot some holes in the Nazi theory of Aryan racial superiority. But Hitler still got what he wanted out of the Games. With the help of American newspapers such as the New York Times, which opined that the Games put Germany “back in the family of nations again,” he convinced many Germans, and many foreigners, to accept Nazism as “normal.” The Nuremburg laws were in force, German troops had marched into the Rhineland, Dachau was full of prisoners, but the world cheered its athletes in Berlin. As a result, many people, both in and out of Germany, reckoned that everything was just fine and that Hitler could be tolerated a bit longer.
She explains how the sponsors of the Beijing Games, including Samsung Electronics and Coca-Cola, try to justify their involvement (lots of cash for their shareholders – naturally). She reports on the pompous remarks of the chairman of the International Olympic Committee in the face of protesters at the lighting of the Olympic flame.
Applebaum then goes on to dismantle many of the fallacies used to justify these “peaceful games” taking place in the capital of one of the world’s worst and most repressive regimes.
She shows how boycotts have been used successfully in the past, including the case of South Africa, and how the Olympics are an ideal place for demonstrations.
But the bottom line is that no one involved in the preparations for this year’s Olympic games believes that this is about sport or athletes, or that Beijing will be an innocent display of sporting prowess. We’ve all recognised, right from the beginning, that the 2008 games are about Chinese politics and an attempt to have them legitimized by the international community.
I’m not going to China.