Lately I haven’t been to up on what’s going on in the world, but I have heard snippets of the demonstrations surrounding the running of the Olympic torch around the globe. While the torch went through Seoul today, a man tried to light himself on fire to stop the relay (story). In Paris, the last part of the torch relay was canceled due to protests (story). In fact, protesters were so violent, the torch had to be extinguished five times.
The torch, a symbol of unity and friendly competition between nations, has become a site of bitter protest in every international city it approaches (including San Francisco). Groups like Save Darfur and Amnesty International are partially responsible for organizing the protests because they disagree with China’s human rights policy, their enslavement of Tibet, and the recent violence against the Tibetan Buddhist monks.
Even lawmakers are calling for a boycott of the Olympics, urging President Bush to refrain from visiting the opening games in Beijing. However, it looks unlikely that Bush will call off his plans, even though folks from both sides of the aisle are asking him to reconsider.
Now if a man is willing to light himself on fire to communicate a message, does anyone else think we should listen? Sure, he may be a nutter, but even nutters can make good points. It seems that thousands, maybe millions, have a similar message–the Beijing Olympics should be snubbed. The Chinese government has a long history of oppressing its people, and now we’re just bringing commerce into the country like everything is great, like they aren’t cracking down on house churches or imprisoning people unfairly. Some have even compared this situation to the 1936 Summer Olympics which were hosted in Berlin by Hitler. It gave Hitler a platform to showcase Germany to the world so the world would be quick to agree in his wisdom.
Frankly, I probably won’t watch the Summer Olympics anyway. I find spectator sports fairly boring, except for curling (that’s just funny) extreme sports, soccer, and ice skating. Even then, I get bored after a bit. But if I had planned on watching them, I would seriously consider doing so as a form of protest.
I’m just wondering–what do you think about the quagmire that is the Summer Olympics?