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Monday, August 18, 2008

The Beijing Olympics and the Oppression of the Chinese People

Give the Chinese women's gymnastic team the credit they deserve. They came up with big performances when the gold was on the line. Winning the gold in front of the home crowd was a wonderful accomplishment for those girls. Of course I wanted the Americans to win but I was happy for the girls who competed and won. My thoughts about the Chinese government, on the other hand, were a little different.

If what the announcers said is correct, and I assume they are actually downplaying the situation, many of these gymnasts are taken from their families for training when they are as young as three years old. These kids see their families about once a year. Think about that as a parent in one-child-per-family China. One of the announcers mentioned the great opportunity this gives the family to better their lot in life. Surely there is truth to this statement but this is looking at the matter through rose-colored glasses.

As a father of three little girls I was sickened to learn of this practice. American families go to great lengths in hopes that their little one might become a great athlete and perhaps some families push thier children too much. However, this is worlds apart from what the Chinese are doing. Worlds apart. We compete in athletics because we enjoy it (and some dream of big dollars one day). If someone has the ability and dedication to pursue competition at the Olympic level, they may do so. Or not. Taking little girls from their families at the age of three and only allowing them to see their families once a year for 10-15 years is unconscionable.

While the US is leading the medal count, China has the most golds. I give the athletes credit for that. But the Chinese government is using these athletes like chattel. For the majority of their young lives these athletes have essentially been the property of the goverment. They are being used in a giant propaganda production. Earlier this week, George Will wrote,
"This year's August upheaval [Russia-Georgia] coincides, probably not coincidentally, with the world's preoccupation with that charade of international comity, the Olympics. For only the third time in 72 years (Berlin 1936, Moscow 1980), the games are being hosted by a tyrannical regime, the mind of which was displayed in the opening ceremony featuring thousands of drummers, each face contorted with the same grotesquely frozen grin. It was a tableau of the miniaturization of the individual and the subordination of individuality to the collective. Not since the Nazi's 1934 Nuremberg rally, which Leni Riefenstahl turned into the film 'Triumph of the Will,' has tyranny been so brazenly tarted up as art. A worldwide audience of billions swooned over the Beijing ceremony. Who remembers 1934? Or anything."
When you pull back the Chinese curtain and take a look at reality, "charade" is an apt description. The Chinese gymnasts and their families have been, as Will puts it, subordinated to the collective in order to airbrush a shiny, happy appearance onto the face of Chinese tyranny.

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