Monday, April 7, 2008

Enough is Enough: Boycott the Ceremonies

I've long been a passionate supporter of the Olympics. My first visit to an Olympic host site was in 1993, when I first went to the Olympic Stadium of Montreal at 13 years old. My parents said that I acted as if I was on "holy ground". I wore out my volume of Made in America, Peter Ueberroth's book about the organization of the 1984 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles. In 1996, I had the thrill of attending the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta, including the Opening Ceremonies and several events (I learned everything I know about team handball from a German gentleman).

Since then, I wrote a couple papers on politics in the Olympics -- particularly those of sub-state nationalism -- partially researched with files kept in Montreal from the 1976 Games. I've visited the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

But as much as I revere the Olympic tradition, it does not override human dignity and freedom. It does not override concern for the victims of the Sudanese genocide (perpetrated by a government afloat on Chinese money) not does it override concern for the illegally occupied region of Tibet.

While I think that it is counter-productive and hurtful to assault torch-carriers and officials taking the long trip to Beijing as happened in Paris today, I believe that there are ways to demonstrate our displeasure.

I disagree with a complete boycott of all athletic competitions at the Olympic Games. American athletes have sacrificed too much for too long to be kept from this stage. However, I do stand with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that there needs to be some action that denotes this dissatisfaction. I'm glad to see that she will not attend the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, and I'm glad to see French President Nikolas Sarkozy is keeping that possibility open. Skipping this show is the slimmest, safest show of support.

I hope that our President will not attend this ceremony to show American displeasure with the Chinese government's contempt for human rights. I join Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Senator Hillary Clinton in calling for Bush to skip these ceremonies, and I only hope anybody who claims passion for human freedom and dignity will do the same.

No comments: