Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Flame out!

“The Olympic flame is in trouble. The Associated Press reports the International Olympic Committee is considering scrapping the international leg of the Olympic torch relay as a result of a series of pro-Tibet protests. On Monday, officials in Paris were forced to extinguish the Olympic flame and carry it by bus when protesters tried to seize it”. Democracy Now! Headlines, April 9, 2008.

Watching the scenes of the progress of the torch from Beijing and back again, with concentric ‘bubbles’ of security is quite a statement in and of itself. Roller-blades and mountain bikes? Like a bad TV pilot nobody picked up. And fascists in powder blue jogging suits – how chic!

Aside from the side-show, the flame of peace, hope, and brotherhood is under threat from radical political activists. How dare they interfere with ritual? Especially ritual that has already been bought and paid for!

Well, it just goes show that a symbol, when placed in impertinent, dishonorable hands and utilized improperly with a blatant disregard of higher moral value, can lose all of its meaning and even, as in this case, affect the reversal of the symbol’s traditional denotation.

The protestors are not attacking the spirit of the Olympic flame. They are attacking the perversion of it and its callous use as a PR tool by a ruthless, totalitarian regime.

Not to exempt other previous hosts of the Olympic Games from their own questionable policies, foreign and domestic, but the People’s Republic of China is a totally inappropriate host for this prestigious event, particularly given the current butchery in Tibet. Would Beijing have been allowed to host the Games the summer of the Tiannanmen Square massacre?

Yet in Lhasa, we see similar scenes of brutal political repression to those of 1989. This time the crack-down is based additionally on cultural and religious grounds. If the community of nations cannot withdraw a prestigious social prize of the magnitude of the Olympic Games from a rogue state that is murdering people who are only guilty of wanting to live their own lives under their own laws and by their own traditions, of what value is the honor and its trappings? The prize and its symbols cannot retain their lofty, moral significance when a bloody hand wields them. They can only be valued in the crass financial terms of a butcher shop.

Show me the money! Is that what the Games are about?

If the IOC had hair one, they would stop the whole charade right now. The government of the PRC does not deserve to have the Games. Cancel the Beijing Games. Move the site. Stage reduced Games. Utilize sites in multiple countries. But do not allow the PRC to enjoy the prestige of a civilized nation. If they want to be the Olympic hosts they can stop the bloody suppression of the Tibetan people.

Stop the Games. Boycott the Games. The medals are all deeply stained with the blood of innocents. They hold no honor.

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