Monday, July 21, 2008

Mr. Communist, Tear Down This Wall!

I applaud U.S. athletes. Here, athletes: this is me applauding your iron discipline, focus, and talent. Well done.

I've thought a lot about What To Do With This Year's Olympics. Will it matter if I, one lowly viewer, choose to boycott watching the Olympics? Well, one person does not a network make. NBC will chug right along without me. So - then - why not give in, and watch the swimmers, runners, and all those other inspiring Olympic stories?

I'll tell you why. Because of this man:

We can't change the fact that some thought hosting the Olympics in China was a good idea. There are plenty of arguments that this will shed light on the injustices there. But don't be fooled: Communist China will not make any major policy changes because the world is looking on.

Wait: there have been a few. Like this one:
No blacks, Mongolians allowed at Beijing bars during Olympics.

Yes, because those pesky Mongolians didn't get the hint from that giant WALL? Do they expect Ghengis Khan to sidle up to the bar and order a whiskey sour??

And what about all the press, athletes and workers who aren't Asian or Caucasian? And don't worry if you're disabled: they've printed a pamphlet about you, assuring volunteers that many disabled people have regular mental functions, just like you and me. Don't let that wheelchair fool you, volunteers: that person can think, too (though he or she may have a strange "personality" due to his or her handicap struggles).

Oh, and if you plan of visiting Beijing, don't worry about its infamous pollution: they've banned a million vehicles in honor of the Olympics to cut down on the smog. Wow, a few weeks in advance. That'll help those cross country runners' writhing lungs. And don't worry about massive earthquakes, either: China has promised that there won't be any. Wow. That's a pretty bold claim. To paraphrase Jim from "The Office," "to photoshop yourself into an old family picture of your girlfriend with her ex-husband and kids is a bold move. But then Michael's a pretty bold guy."

Check out the do's and don'ts that China has issued to visitors.

NBC still isn't sure what depth of censoring will be levied (China does not grant freedom of the press, remember!!) during the broadcasting blitz.

In the interest of history and architecture, I do not advocate tearing down the Great Wall of China. But the "People's Republic" is hardly the peoples', or a republic. Beijing needs to let go of the ruling Communist "dynasty" and embrace a form of government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.

The level of hospitality offered during this Olympics season makes a plastic cover on a sofa look warm and inviting.

Where does this seemingly harsh attitude of mine come from? Well, it comes partly from exposure to continued human rights abuses. It comes from the above photo of one brave man who gave his life.

It comes from having been there - and Mongolia. I was with a group of people in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, ready to fly home, via Beijing. The trip organizer had spoken multiple times with representatives of the Chinese government to ensure our papers were in order. But when we arrived at Ulaan Baatar's tiny national airport, we were informed that we would need a visitor's visa for our layover in Beijing. First we'd heard of it. Our trip leader had to drive to downtown Ulaan Baatar to get fourteen visas totalling over a thousand dollars so that we could fly into Beijing and sit in the airport for three hours before embarking on the long flight to Chicago. The plane was held for us, threats were made that the flight would take off without us, and about five minutes from zero hour our trip organizer came running through the airport, visas in hand.

Bullies are bullies because they can be.

It's time to stop enabling bullies.


Bob said...


Kimberly said...

Well-said...I share your harshness!