The United States is being pressured to boycott the overrated sporting event because of China’s iron hand rule over the Dalia Lama, Buddhist monks and the people of Tibet. It’s starting to resemble a similar boycott of the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow imposed by our great genius rocket scientist, President Jimmy Carter.
Carter was opposed to the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. He decided to trash the athletes four years of training, hard work and sacrifice and boycotted the Olympics for his own political purpose. Four years later the Russians used a counter-boycott of the games held in Los Angeles.
The Americans did the Russians a favor. Because of the boycott the Soviet block nations won 79 percent of the gold medals instead of the 60 percent they won four years earlier.
The boycott had little or no effect. The Russians were forced out of Afghanistan 10 years later in 1989. But the Republicans will have us in Iraq for eternity. Bush just stated that we were going to stay in Iraq and use them to fight our wars with Iran, Palestine, Lebanon and any other country opposed to our great American tradition of capitalism and colonization.
It’s kind of ironic: We boycotted the Russian Olympics because of their invasion of Afghanistan but it’s totally acceptable if we invade Iraq, 20 years later.
Their is another irony: Using the sporting event as a showcase doesn’t always work out. The 1936 Summer Olympics were held in Berlin. At the time Nazism was threatening the human rights, freedom and political systems of Eastern Europe. Like China, Hitler was using the Olympics to show-off his country and demonstrate the supremacy of the Aryan race. Instead, Jesse Owens proved the black race would have its place in summer sports.
But with all the rhetoric about a boycott, I wouldn’t bet on it happening. Last week Bush said he plans to attend China’s showcase of tyranny. American based sponsors are too committed and can’t withdraw their sponsorship even if they wanted to. Since China is the world’s fourth largest economy and our second largest trading partner, our stand on human rights will have to take a back seat to corporate profits. For the last 10 years socialist China has been investing heavily in American businesses. Currently, they’re buying large stakes in Visa and are in the process of helping our government bail out the failing capitalist banking system. They are even buying low yield bonds and have invested billions of dollars purchasing even lower yield treasure notes.
No doubt the Tibetans and their Dalia Lama are taking full advantage of the Olympics to gain world-wide sympathy for their human rights cause and humanitarian needs. Most of them live in extreme poverty and they don’t have the right to political privacy or freedom. They are imprisoned if they demonstrate against government policy and punished if they criticize China’s occupation of their land. Sound familiar?
Some American and Iraqi citizens are having the same problems. The United States government is limiting our political privacy by listening in on our telephone conversations. Iraqi citizen’s who would dare demonstrate or criticize the American occupation of their land are being arrested as terrorists; and without habeas corpus are held in prisons indefinitely, funded by the taxpayers of our democracy.
In all of this international falderal about the Olympics the Dalia Lama is relatively neutral about the whole thing. Last week, at a conference on compassion held at the University of Washington, he said he “was not opposed to China hosting the Olympics.”
The current Dalia Lama is the 14th of a long succession of spiritual leaders. He was recognized at the age of 2 as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalia Lama and is considered the incarnation of the Buddha of compassion. Although he is the face of Buddha, he is also the head of state of the Tibetan government.
Tibet lies in a precarious geographical position. China borders its mountains on one side and India on the other. In 1950 China invaded and took control of Tibet. The Dalia Lama met with the Chinese to negotiate peace in 1954 and appealed to India’s Prime Minister Nehru for humanitarian help. All without success. In 1959, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. That same year, after a failed uprising against Chinese occupation, he found sanctuary in India. He has lived there ever since.
Maybe “humanitarian” should be the slogan for this years Olympics. If the corporate world answered Tibet’s cry for humanitarian aid and gave them as much money as they spent on the sponsorship of Beijing’s so-called showcase; the riots might stop, the living conditions would improve, China would be grateful and the Dalia Lama would be the incarnation of the Buddha of compassion — and happiness.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at farsidian2001 @yahoo.com. His Web site is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.