Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beijing Olympics: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Presidential election years have invariably, since McKinley's first trouncing of William Jennings Bryan in 1896, brought us the Summer Olympic Games. Perhaps the most obviously ongoing legacy of the classical in our utterly modern world, the Olympic games bring together the world's greatest athletes under their national banners. These games are unfortunately, like the 1936 and 1980 games before, being hosted by a police state. In the previous times this has happened, as it is in this case, the games have become an instrument of propaganda and obvious cheating on the part of the dubious host government.

But more on that and other matters in a moment. The joy of the Olympics is undeniable. The amazing and the talented athletes competing against each other is a display of human endurance, achievement, and beauty all brought to one spot on earth for a brief sixteen days once every four years. It's all the more incredible because it's always contrasted by the depressingly drab political pandering of a Presidential election; whereas that contest of two is all too often a choice between two things far less than the best among us, the Olympics rewards the best after rigorous competition against others who are hardly much worse. This is the good that the Olympics represent and the happiness it promises to all men the world over. The ancient Greek sense of life, that of exalting what was most admirable and beautiful in life, is preserved in the modern games and that is precisely why they are sought by countries, peoples, and cities the world over.

The bad is that, on occasion, governments that represent everything the games stand against, which stand for death and destruction and exalt all that destroys man's life on this earth, host the games. Such a government exists in Communist China and we have already witnessed numerous pieces of dubious propaganda from the minor affair of substituting little girls in the opening ceremony for the sake of "beauty" to the absurd double dealing of the Chinese women's gymnastics team who have cleverly taken advantage of the IOC's easy to get around age verification rules. We are sure to witness more propaganda in these allegedly non-political games and, unfortunately, more dubious tactics in the competition.

The ugly is all American. Whatever pact with the devil American broadcasters made with the Chinese government in order to broadcast the Olympics, it was not worth it. The completely laudatory, uncritical, and propaganda laced coverage NBC and others are providing for the Chinese government is entirely unacceptable. To be in a country with the most extensive gulag system in the world, where the government grinds up its internal "enemies" at whim, and that is an enemy to individual rights (and thus individuals, Chinese and otherwise) everywhere and yet provide silly coverage of Chinese culinary habits or the irrelevant Forbidden City or the Great Wall would be ridiculous if it were not so sad. True absurdity is to be completely unskeptical of the guides being provided to them when they tour Beijing. Of course the guides are friendly and courteous. Of course the guides show them only the most pleasant things to do and see in the capital (no surprise that everyone on camera in these excursions appears happy and pleasant, anything else would be evidence against them with their state, making what these journalists are doing all the more abhorrent). If these journalists, and that is what they claim to be, cannot travel and question at will, without minders, then they should refuse to be used as propaganda tools and merely report on the competitors and their successes. Anything else would be, and is, morally ugly. And yet, the press has the temerity to suggest that they should be "neutral" in terms of cheering for their countrymen in competition. It's enough to make someone sick. We expect this from the likes of the communists in China, but it hurts when our fellow Americans sink to such depths on TV for everyone to see.

Despite the evil that is the state based in Beijing and the ugly ineptitude that is the compromising and clueless American press, these Olympics have still provided glorious moments in athletic competition. Michael Phelps's utter domination of the swimming pool is something to behold. Nastia Liukin's triumph in the women's gymnastics all around competition over her Chinese opponents was enough to make one stand and cheer. Bela Karolyi's lovable foil to Bob Costas's annoying Chinese front man during gymnastics coverage is classic television. Who knows, maybe we'll even see a courageous Chinese man or woman refuse to be used as a pawn for the glory of the slave regime which abducts them at early ages to have their lives forfeited to a purpose they may or may not have ever pursued independently, but I'm not counting on it. If the American press willingly drinks the koolaid without complaint, why should we expect the far more courageous act of will it would take to ensure spiritual independence at the cost of everything else? Because it's the Olympics and that's what they are ultimately all about. That's why we love them and it is proper that we do.

1 comment:

USpace said...

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Great piece, thinking about China being given the Olympics really is maddening. At least more people will be talking sooner rather than later about how there are really two very different Chinas in one.
Maybe in the future it will be in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela.
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absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
just host sporting events

communists must always seek
planetary approval

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absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
corrupt governments

denying outside help
with tragic avalanche

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absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
capitalism's faults

but prefers communism
with its many miseries

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absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never admit mistakes

cling to false ideologies
brainwash your countrymen

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absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
cause food shortages

implement price controls
destroy all family farms

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All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech, there can be no real freedom.
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Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
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Help Halt Terrorism Today!
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USpace

:)
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