When I see pictures of the Beijing Olympic facilities, and then read of the human rights repressions going on in the lead up to those olympic games, I am reminded of John Randolph’s comments about Edward Livingston, of whom he said “He is a man of splendid abilities but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight.”
The same can be said of these games.
My friends at RK have derided Frank Wolf for his opposition to the games. In fact recent developments suggest this criticism may be like that magic moment in 2006 when Feder briefly attacked Congressman Wolf for a vote on earmarks…then went silent when it was realized he had voted with the democrats because the bill offered was a sham and did nothing to really change things.
Here too we can anticipate a fast drop of the subject, as it is rapidly becoming clear that no matter how beautiful the facilities may be that the Beijing games are turning into a front for the Chinese government to amp up its already repressive policies. While Congressman Wolf may have overstated the case, he is right that there is something very wrong with these games. In fact, he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are in agreement on the matter.
You know something is amiss when even the French are considering protest possibilities ranging from a leadership boycott the opening ceremonies to not broadcasting the games.
Today’s WaPo column by the great Sally Jenkins examines the bad craziness surrounding these games:
At this point, the Beijing Games are shaping up as a disaster. The violent police action in Tibet and other events of the past two weeks make one wonder if the Chinese government is fundamentally unfit to host an Olympics. Officials there have violated the basic spirit of the event and reneged on every promise they made to the International Olympic Committee about their willingness to accommodate the world. When anyone publicly tries to hold them to account — such as our State Department, that “bad-tempered” Nancy Pelosi or the Dalai Lama — they charge critics with trying “sabotage” the Games. The only event they seem interested in hosting is the Totalitarian Propaganda Back-flip.
Yep, you read it right…Nancy Pelosi, who has taken China to task over the human rights policies and been insulted for her trouble, is on the same side as Frank Wolf…so I wonder where that leaves Ms. Feder?
Ms. Jenkins goes on to note:
The centerpiece of China’s bid seven years ago was a promise to make progress on human rights and to open the country to world media coverage. Chinese officials practically begged for the Games and made all kinds of assurances. But instead, the direct opposite has happened — the Games actually have caused a significant pre-Games crackdown, abuses that range from sweeping arrests of dissidents to the strong-arming in Tibet, where as many as 130 may have died, according to the exiled Tibetan government.
In addition to the body count, the list of Chinese actions contrary to their promises include:
a) Officials have issued an edict forbidding live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square during the Games.
b) The jailing of dissidents for merely writing on the Internet. This is known in China as “inciting subversion”
c) Bulletins about food so contaminated and air so polluted they could harm the athletes.
d) Oh, and there is that little thing about continued revelations about lead paint in items manufactured in China.
About here you might expect wailing about boycotting the Games. You won’t get it here. As one who was in college and then grad school during the 1980 and 1984 Olympics and had peers who hoped to participate-as anything from a spectator up to being an actual participant. I remember those young men and women who lost the opportunity to test themselves on the Olympic stage due to the US boycott over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I recall the disappointment of the next crop of Olympians whose achievements in the 1984 LA games were derided as somehow less than legit because the USSR and its client states returned the favor.
This is the point where Ms. Jenkins offers an original and highly creative solution-threaten to move the 2008 Olympics. Have it in Athens or Sydeny, where the facilities and infrastructure are still in place. The Chinese have not lived up to their end of the bargain. Besides, when the best that proponents of keeping the games in China can offer is to say politics and controversy have always been with the Olympics and cite Berlin 1936 as an example…well, is it worth holding an athletic event that from the get-go welcomescomparison with the most odious, racist, and propaganda filled Olympics ever held?
Something needs to be done, and while there is difference on means and actions I think it better if we err (w/in the means at our disposal) in support of human rights than in effectively supporting suppression of human rights.
Better to be fresh yet dull fish instead of that bright and stinky mackerel-just ask John Randolph of Roanoke.