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Banging My Head Against The (Great) Wall

Well, today is the opening ceremonies for the Olympics in Beijing, and most everyone is just happy and joyful and whatnot.

I'll pass, thanks.

China is doing all it can to show that it can be a good host and a member of the modern, civilized world.

And, as is typical of communist dictatorships, failing miserably.

They've reneged on their promise of minimal restrictions on internet access for the athletes and the press.

They've been caught planting microphones in tons of cabs.

Their promises to clean up the air in and around Beijing went over like the proverbial lead balloon. (Well, considering the amount of lead and other toxins in the air, maybe not so proverbial.)

They've evicted thousands from their homes to make room for the Games, and hauled off those who dare protest their shabby treatment.

They've banned at least one past medal winner from participating in the opening ceremonies because he had the temerity to not like the ongoing genocide in Darfur -- and point out China's actions and interests in allowing it to go on.

As I am accustomed to, I find myself in the minority in loathing these developments. President Bush is in China to attend the opening ceremonies. Senator Obama was so repulsed by it all, he bought a bunch of advertising for the coverage. Senator McCain was so appalled by Senator Obama's actions that he decided to buy even more ads than Obama did.

My only consolation is that there is a certain historical trend that I like. Whenever the Olympic games are held in a tyrannical regime, it seems to be a harbinger of the fall of that tyranny within a decade. It happened in Berlin, Germany in 1936. It happened in Moscow in 1980. And it happened in Sarajevo in 1984.

It'd be nice to think that the communist tyrants of China will be relegated to the dung heap of history with a decade or so. But I fear that it's just a statistical artifact, a quirk of fate.

But one can only hope.


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Comments (16)

Jay, you make an important ... (Below threshold)

Jay, you make an important point here that within a decade bad regimes that hosted the Olympics tended to crumble. This is a major part of what's very important here; the more China opens itself up to the world, the more the internal demands for reform will be. The more China's serious air pollution problem is broadcast throughout the world, the more that should result to clean up that problem in the future as well.

Interestingly, China tends to voice support for many Democratic governments around the world in the UN and elsewhere, but it just hasn't caught up with China itself yet. Yet more and more within this one party society, local government officials are more and more concerned about what their local public thinks about their job performance and are nearly campaigning for their offices already.

Hopefully this Olympics will help China to move from the baby-steps of reform into a greater series of reforms. Somewhere some Chinese Gorbachev needs to emerge to move his society ahead at a faster rate while convincing a few hardliners that the time has come for all this.

Beyond the treatment of the... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

Beyond the treatment of the athletes and the spectators, I believe all this political posturing should be kept out of the Olympics. Discussing planted microphone is legit. The constant pollution coverage and media getting their luggage screen not so much. Unrealistic sure but it seems more people are interested in scoring cheap political points than honoring the origins of the game.

J.I agree with you... (Below threshold)
Matt:

J.

I agree with you wholeheartedly. In fact, I am boycotting the Olympic games. As much as possible I will not watch anything about the olympics, with the possible exception of the Women's Beach Volleyball.

I think China going democratic (I think we need a better term, since our democrat party has ruined it) in a decade or so migth be to optimistic. Change has come to China relatively slowly and their Leaders are pretty good at riding out the storms of change. Unfortunately this might lead to a mind-set that they can remain a hard-core communist country, suppress civil rights at will, pillage and oppress other countries and commit genocide and still be a well thought of Global member.

All three of those regimes ... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

All three of those regimes that fell, fell from the active pursuit of at least the US.

I wish we were doing the same to China. We aren't and probably won't anytime soon.

I thought that the choice o... (Below threshold)
Rance:

I thought that the choice of a flag bearer for the U.S. was inspired. Anyone know who suggested it first?

J,Just to clarify,... (Below threshold)

J,

Just to clarify, Joey Cheek, the former 2006 Olympic gold medalist who had his visa revoked likely over being a member of Team Darfur, is not a participating athlete in the Games (he's a speedskater) and was just going to China as an average Joe Citizen, so he would not be in Opening Ceremonies. Not that that makes China's actions in the matter any less egregious for sure.

For the moment, China has yet to revoke the visa of participating athletes. We'll see how long that lasts until the first athlete wears a "Free Tibet" t-shirt, huh?

"Hard-core communist countr... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

"Hard-core communist country"? Have you ever been to Shanghai or Hong Kong? Can't spit without hitting a luxury car. Authoritarian, yes; communist, no.

Everything in your comment could be applied to your government's BFFs in Saudi Arabia. I hope your concern for human rights extends to countries that are not pseudo-Marxist. Authoritarian regimes are bad no matter where they are, no matter what their religion (or lack thereof), and no matter how prosperous.

By the way, your idea of changing the word 'democratic' to something else is stupid. It has a rich etymology, one I'm so sure you've taken the opportunity to avail yourself of. Your distaste for one American political party is not and never will be cause for revising the English language.

"This is a major part of... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"This is a major part of what's very important here; the more China opens itself up to the world, the more the internal demands for reform will be. The more China's serious air pollution problem is broadcast throughout the world, the more that should result to clean up that problem in the future as well."

Just don't say anything about it to China or overtly express support for those who want out from under their red thumb because, well, there could be disruptive protests and someone could get hurt. In the meantime..., these were not Buddhists.

Everything in your comme... (Below threshold)

Everything in your comment could be applied to your government's BFFs in Saudi Arabia. I hope your concern for human rights extends to countries that are not pseudo-Marxist. Authoritarian regimes are bad no matter where they are, no matter what their religion (or lack thereof), and no matter how prosperous.

Very true. Of course Saudi Arabia isn't hosting the Olympics.

So there's that....

Anyway, I guess the Canadian O.C. didn't grease the palms of the IOC in quite the way China did. A shame, too. Toronto, who soundly lost in the final bidding to China, really have been a MUCH better and nicer place to hold the Games. Beginning with the air quality....

And, as is typical of co... (Below threshold)
Anachronda:

And, as is typical of communist dictatorships, failing miserably.

Which is precisely why my reaction to them being granted the Olympics was to warm up the popcorn popper so I could sit back and enjoy the train wreck.

"Consider coal and kerosene... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

"Consider coal and kerosene, for example. In the 19th century those fuels were very popular, but by 1920 they had been effectively replaced by oil,"

Currently coal supplies the fast majority of our electricity. Kerosene is petroleum base and is highly used today.

Sorry wrong thread.... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

Sorry wrong thread.

Oyster, I'm opposed to anyo... (Below threshold)

Oyster, I'm opposed to anyone using the Olympics for political soapboxing purposes because it only only harms the goodwill tone of the games, or diminishes the athletes hard work. It is not the proper venue for such politics.

The fact of the matter is that any of the 191 nations of the world has the ability to use the United Nations to express opposition to any nation's conduct or politics any time they wish. Any nation may introduce resolutions opposing some of China's acts or declare a trade embargo on trade with China if they so wish.

There are far better places or times than the Olympics for anyone to express their political opposition to some of China's worst policies.

Certainly the Olympics will draw knockout TV ratings, so if a few refuse to watch here or there for political reasons, it won't even register with the ratings success that these games always draw no matter where they are hosted.

Yeah, Toronto could have us... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Yeah, Toronto could have used the influx of federal and international dollars that the Olympics would have brought. Our waterfront is sorely underdeveloped, for starters. But no, give the Games to one of the filthiest cities in the world, and legitimize its corrupt authoritarian regime. Thanks IOC, you a-holes.

Thanks IOC, you a-holes.... (Below threshold)

Thanks IOC, you a-holes.

Canada did get Games, though. Vancouver '10.(MUCH better waterfront BTW. No offense,of course.)

Agreed, but being a selfish... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Agreed, but being a selfish, my-city-as-center-of-the-universe Torontonian, I wanted some of that capital expenditure lovin'. :)

Canada will be lucky to win a dozen medals in Beijing, but we're shooting for first or second in Vancouver. ("Whaddya mean, setting ourselves up for a colossally humiliating letdown on an international stage?!") When Montreal hosted, we didn't win a single gold medal. Haha... at least the air and food would've been good.




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