China is a empire with a long history. Silk, dragons, pasta, gunpowder, a remarkable ancient wall, good food... yeah we get it. But, dear China, I don't really give a crap about your thousands of years of history and "honor" when you twist the Olympics to make yourselves look better than you are.
If it turns out to be true, faking passports for underaged gymnasts is pretty foul. Unsportsmanlike. No honor there. Hiding away a small child who sang in the opening ceremonies because she wasn't attractive enough for the beauty standards of a member of the Politburo? Sick. Definitely no honor there, either. Claiming the filthy pollution that hangs in the Beijing air, a tangible sign of your horrible environmental practices, is just harmless "mist"? Ludicrous. Only allowing the English-language version of the state-run news to mention the murder of an American during the Games? Pathetic.
But the truth is, I expect no less from an enormous, dysfunctional communist country. I lived in one for several years, and I saw how it was rotting from the inside. Corrupt, blind, diseased, bloated with that weird sense of pride and need to win that comes from desperation, with most people living in toothless poverty. China now is worse than the Soviet Union ever was. The West is scared of what this regime can do. They have weapons - but not only of the conventional and nuclear variety. Their greatest weapon is a teeming population and an industrial base that churns out crap products that flood the world's markets each and every day. Turn over every shoddy product you find in your local dollar store, and I'll bet you dollars to donuts, 9 out of 10 will have been made in some slave wage crap factory in China.
And yet, right now, here is the whole world, smiling in Beijing.
I was nauseated during the opening ceremonies, listening to NBC veteran Bob Costas and NBC's China analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo fawning over all the pageantry offered up by the Chinese government. Repeatedly, they noted how the artistic presentation would be a tribute to Chinese history, broken into the "historical era" and modern day China. Amazingly, the segment on modern day China somehow bypassed Tiananmen Square. Oh, how I love the selective memory of totalitarianism!
Perhaps the most sickening moment of the opening ceremonies came when the Olympic flag was handed over by a group of childen to a squad of goose-stepping soldiers to run up the flagpole. NBC's smarmsters for the evening oohed and ahhed and said how this transfer of a flag of peace and sport from children to soldiers was symbolic of how the people of China are grateful to their government.
Quote from Ramo: "I think it's a profound statement that will resonate in the hearts of the more than 1 billion Chinese watching this tonight, the idea that the state is the guarantor of the future of those children in a country that for so long could not guarantee the safety or stability of the society for generations of children." What the hell?!?
Joshua, dude, are you out of your fucking tree? What safety is there for anyone with independent thought in today's China?
Look, it's true, goose-stepping soldiers always make an powerful impression. History (and science fiction films) confirms that fascists always look spiffy. Great uniforms, snappy marching songs, trains that run on time... But they also scare the living crap out of thinking people everywhere and leave their own people oppressed, confused, underinformed, and trapped in the rough, crushing grip of their massive hand.
Anytime we give them a pass so we don't offend them, the shame and dishonor falls squarely on us. Shame on NBC for that opening night fawning. Shame on the IOC for letting the Chinese get away with doctored passports for underaged gymnasts. Shame on the IOC for being afraid of offending the paranoid "host country."
Screw them. The IOC did not have to offer the games to China in the first place. Hey, China! You guys treat the majority of your people like isolated pieces of garbage - here, have some Olympic goodness and lots and lots of money!
We have long known what a despicable regime runs China. A regime so scared that free information to its citizens will weaken its pathetic hold over the world's most populous nation, yet such a delusional bully that it staunchly defends the limited freedoms offered to its people. Why reward them? I know that some will argue that having the Games in China is a boost to the Chinese people themselves. While that may offer a feel-good fortnight, it's a temporary high for people in need of regime change.
Did any of you catch the press conference after the women's team gymnastics competition? As you might recall, sometimes I accidentally end up watching Chinese TV (or free porn) on one of my cable channels. Yesterday, I found myself watching the press pepper the gymnasts with questions. I couldn't understand a word, yet the faces of the athletes said everything. The Americans, while disappointed by their loss, were still smiling, flexible, vocal. The Chinese girls - the gold medal winners - all looked scared and nervous. Part of that may be a function of their extreme youth. But most of it seemed to be fear of saying anything wrong. You win a gold medal, you should be beaming and proud, not terrified. I feel very bad for any Chinese Olympians who don't finish these games without the medals their government expects.
For the record, yes, I know, in this dark, horrible era of U.S. history, it may not be the place of any American to cast stones at China. Our government has suffocated Iraq under a cancerous blanket of "freedom", and I flinched when President Bush chose to chastise China only when he was already at their doorstep, about to arrive to celebrate the Games. Frankly, no one in the Bush administration should be the first to cast a stone at China. But I don't work for this president, nor did I vote to elect him.
And I will gladly throw a stone at the Chinese government. You dishonor the spirit of the Games with fake passports and fake singers. Shame on you.
And shame on those who tacitly condone it. Or, worse, ignore it.
Shame, shame, shame.
It is my sincere hope that, someday, China's people will experience true freedom. It also scares the bejeezus out of me because when (not *if*) it happens, it will usher in an age of chaos and Wild West behavior that will make Russia's transition from the Soviet Union look like a trip to Romper Room.