Machetera has never been a huge fan of the Olympics for many reasons that she won’t go into right now, except for one, which is that watching the Olympics on U.S. television is like watching a Third Reich propaganda film and endless commercial all rolled into one. A Tivo helps, but not as much as you’d imagine. Anyway, Alberto Montero Soler’s description of the political hypocrisy surrounding the Olympics is another. It’s a shame really, that such glorious athletics should be so abused.
Alberto Montero Soler – Rebelión and La Otra Economía
Last Friday (April 11, 2008), in another exercise in cynicism and redundancy to which we’re becoming accustomed, the European Parliament approved a resolution in which it urges Beijing to negotiate with the Dalai Lama over the situation in Tibet.
It followed a debate full of high-sounding phrases such as “the free world should not shake hands with murderers,” without, at least as far as I was concerned, making very clear who the “free world” is, who are the “murderers” and the reasoning behind such qualifications.
When I began to think about it, certain questions kept coming forward about what seems to me excessive certainty with which some are qualified as belonging to the “free world” and others disqualified as “murderers.”
For instance, the Chinese are the murderers because theirs is the country with more death penalty executions – forgive the black humor – than any other country in the world, yet isn’t the United States right behind them? Or does the European Parliament consider an execution in the United States less serious than one in China?
And if the 1984 Olympics were celebrated in the United States, despite the death penalty being in force, as it still is, vigorously, then why can they not now be celebrated in Beijing? The reason then, must be something else because otherwise our Euro-parliamentarians would be applying a double standard inappropriate to the high level political office they occupy.
Then I think: no, it can’t be for that, it has to be because of the occupation of Tibet and the more than 50 years of Chinese presence there. And once again I’m besieged by doubt: then the U.S. occupation of Iraq and a large part of the international community, including many European countries represented by the Euro-parliamentarians would also have turned all of them into murderers? Or not? And how then should the Israelis be defined, with their occupation of Palestine? Who are the bigger murderers, the Chinese or the U.S? The Chinese or the Israelis? The Israelis or the U.S.? China or the European countries complicit in the occupation of Iraq?
So once again the same thing: if the Olympics were celebrated in 1984 in the United States, a few months after its powerful army invaded the island of Grenada, why can they not now be celebrated in Beijing? Isn’t that another application of an ugly double standard?
But later I keep thinking and I come upon something even more disturbing. Namely, if China’s occupation of TIbet has gone on for more than 50 years, if China has applied the death penalty since time immemorial, and yet in 2001 Beijing was selected as the host city for this year’s Olympic games, is it then that the death penalty and forceful occupation of other countries were acts that went hand in hand with the Olympic games back then, but not now?
It’s a brutal cynicism then, that in 2001 Beijing’s nomination as Olympic host city was selected and now Western authorities are clasping their hands to their heads in shock, when the situation remains the same as 7 years ago, when they were far less dramatic about it.
Equally so, their concern about where Chinese capitalism is going and in their desire to get into a market with hundreds of millions of consumers, their willingness to laugh at any kind of joke; and yet today, on the contrary, they’re worried because the invaders have turned out to be the Chinese, in Western markets, and clearly that’s not so funny.
So, at European capital’s command to “close ranks,” our Euro-representatives now go about urging Tibetans to sacrifice themselves in the streets in order to recover their feudal state, trying to boycott the Olympics and telling us, their constituents, a tall tale about the free world against the murderers, the better for us to swallow it whole. What a world!
Alberto Montero (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of Applied Economics at the University of Málaga. You can find other writings of his at his blog La Otra Economía.