Protesting Business As Usual

The normally jovial and celebratory Olympic Torch Relay, a mostly symbolic journey meant to link the entire planet in the joy of quasi-amateur athletics, has been transformed into a kind of Keystone Kops fiasco, without the comedy. In London and Paris, pro-Tibet demonstrators were so civilly disobedient that the riot police had to be summoned to protect the poor torch bearers, male and female joggers who were supposed to be enjoying one of the most memorable moments of their life. In San Francisco, the clamor grew to a crescendo, and organizers decided to improvise and alter the planned Torch route, fearing for the safety of the bearers and the Torch itself. 

Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, an organization only slightly less corrupt that the Chinese despots who control Tibet, declared that the Torch Relay was “in crisis.” With countless voices calling for a boycott of the Opening Ceremonies, if not the entire Games, the same could be said about Beijing, 2008.

Massive protests against the tyrannical Chinese Communist Party don’t so much effect meaningful change as get innocent people killed and jailed. Remember the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989? Boycotting Olympic Games don’t accomplish much, either. America’s decision to skip the 1980 edition in Moscow, in protest of the then USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, didn’t deter the Evil Empire from conducting a 9-year occupation. Skipping out on Beijing isn’t going to convince the Chinese to liberate Tibet, discontinue propping up the Sudanese warlords in Darfur, or ensure freedom of the Chinese press. Making a mockery out of the Torch Relay isn’t going to achieve these goals, either.

Still, these protests are important, and they should continue.

Protesting loudly and persistently reminds the institutions that do business with the foul apparatchiks who run China that their customers don’t approve, that they have a conscience, even if their elected leaders often appear to be lacking one. The Chinese are bullies. Spoiling their party is likely to inspire even more egregious human rights abuses than those that occur there daily. The most direct path to reform is to have not allowed the party (the Olympics) to happen in the first place. The IOC never should have awarded China the Games. Cruel, anti-libertarian totalitarian states are not worthy of hosting international congregations meant to foster harmony and understanding. The massive, angry crowds that have shadowed the Torch may not speak loudly to the oppressive Chinese, but they certainly have gotten the attention of Rogge and his cohorts. The next time they’re evaluating bids for their multi-billion dollar traveling circus, they might well say to themselves, “You know, maybe we ought to stay away from cruel dictatorships.”

Until the Olympic Flame is extinguished at the closing ceremonies, the rest of the world can (and should) continue to heap as much dishonor as possible on those who would dishonor the human spirit.

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