April 9, 2008

Higher, Faster, Deadlier

Jennifer Wells has a good article (as always) in the G&M today. With China set to host the Olympics in a few months, the stage is set for ramped up trouble and violence around the world. So, what happens next? According to Wells' piece, pressure is now being applied to the major sponsors of the event, like Coca Cola and McDonalds (you only thought they were sponsored by Steriods R Us) to pull rank, if not pull out.

To my mind, the Olympics are little more than the Oscars in runners. Once every couple of years for ten minutes, we get all weepy eyed when an athlete we couldn't have picked out of a not-very-crowded room the day before wins something 'for Canada'. For christsakes. 'We' had nothing to do with it. Our athletes are feebly funded, rarely supported, more rarely feted, and it seems like the height of hypocrisy to piggyback on their hard work once every four years in some borrowed blaze of glory.

And put plainly, modern Olympic glory is sullied. Peeing in a cup while a medal is being hung around your neck harkens more to modern lab than ancient Greece. Most of the athletes themselves want the medal to get the Wheaties box to get the speaker's circuit to get the coaching jobs. I don't blame them; but the fact the rest of us sit by and watch a country like China host this is boggling. It's like a murderer getting house arrest.

I'm a little touchy for other reasons. My recent read of Stolen Angels pointed out China's contentious involvement in Darfur - their lack of cooperation with the the rest of the world is directly causing the death of thousands of innocents in this volatile area. Here's a neat idea, China: you want to play with the rest of us, note the rules and learn to play well with others. For the same reason I'm sick of being in a country that backs a criminal like George Bush, I don't want to support another country that has so little respect for the global community, and indeed, its own backyard. We know about Tibet, FWIW.

China's ambassadors are in full force, and full froth. In Canada, we've been told to mind our own business. Oh, but continue being a massive trading partner for lead toy trains and poisoned toothpaste. In the U.S., check out this gobbledygook from the Washington Post: the Chinese ambassador wants to deploy peacekeepers to Darfur as 'soon as feasible'. Except, they are not 'in a hurry' for the motion to be drafted. Talk about sucking and blowing at the same time.

Unfortunately, while there is much blather that this is about sports, and not politics, that is so much hair splitting. You cannot possibly consider one without the other, and if there is no political will to support how most of us, you know, regular sorts, feel about genocide and war-for-oil, then we are left with the true rulers of our world: Coke and McDonalds. Olympics for the spirit of sports, my ass.

While it may be embarrassing that people like Ben Johnson win gold medals and Kevin Costner wins Oscars, this isn't about trophies and magazine covers. This is about a nation somehow held to different standards than the rest of us - with deadly consequences.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lorraine I couldn't agree more. Rather than kissing China's ass ignore them until such time the human rights issues are resolved and bought to a standard simliar to the rest of the world so we all can play on a level playing field. The Olympics being held in China has very little to do with Olympics but rather doing bigger business further down the road. Kissy, kissy folks...

April 09, 2008 4:23 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

You could bet that the U.S. would be more interested in Darfur if there was oil involved.


April 09, 2008 5:06 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Oh, there's lots of oil in the Sudan. That's the problem. It was discovered by Americans in in the 1970s in central and southern Sudan. governments. As Chevron tried to withdraw oil from their side, a civil war broke out. It destroyed southern Sudan. They finally bailed out, and many of the oil leases ended up in the hands of a Canadian company, who thought they could ignore the fact that the country was being torn apart.

Now, it's China that's protectting it's own huge investments in the oil fields, at the cost of whatever human toll it takes.

(That Stolen Angels book really is an enlightening read. And no, I'm not getting any kickback :) )

April 09, 2008 5:18 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

I stand corrected.


April 09, 2008 5:54 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

It's a complicated mess that I don't know enough about. Sorry for all the typos, everyone. My C&P technique is more idiot than savant...

April 09, 2008 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lorraine, you're the brains of this operation, I have one question, how can we allow the Olympics in China and do the billions of dollars in business yearly with them yet in the same breathe have a war in Iraq and Afghanistan over basically the same humanity issues amongst citizens only different countries? Hypocrisy run wild is it not and all for oil? Sorry, looks like two questions...

April 10, 2008 8:20 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

If I were smart, I'd have a solution. Sigh. The U.S. owes a womping chunk of it's $9 trillion debt to China (and that Iraq skirmish is set to clock in at around another 3). Check out Olive's column in the Star today about McCain, another economic brain trust. Explain how you can go to your bank that has your cojones in a vice and demand anything. (I want to use little italics all over the place, but can't remember what WGJ said about how to do it. Imagine them. And where the Olive link should be.)

We are essentially a world of exploiters, and the exploited. Whether it's cheap labour, oil, diamonds, or - get ready for it, Canadians - water, something you may even offer up initially on your own terms will eventually be bullied from your grasp.

To know about it and do nothing is criminal. To sanction and reward it is ludicrous. With so much of our media reduced to puppets reading cue cards, while investigative journalists we do have getting killed in record numbers, you have to wonder when we will start demanding more than CNN updates on Paul McCartney's divorce settlement.

China has made brilliant economic strides to bring themselves up. But the Three Gorges Damn has been a devastating nightmare, and their handling of Tibet is brutal. Their coal excavation is not only dangerous environmentally, miners are being killed like so much collateral damage. I don't believe in stomping on an entity that's struggling to be better to its people; I just don't see many of the Chinese people, especially in these areas, as reaping much of the reward.

After the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, you'd think we'd have learned something about the more sinister implications, if not motiviations, of something that is supposed to be about sport.

April 10, 2008 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lorraine, speaking of U.S. debt to China, did you catch 60 Minutes Sunday night? Oh boy, Bush has made of mess of things south of us. Anyways, China will be the next Super Power for sure, the bucks to back it up, no debt, ownership around the globe, just money to burn and remember, the wealth they have now, this is the just the start of their economic boom. We are screwed!...AND yes I well agree with you, the people will be no or little better off regardless of the outcome. As for McCain, I'll take fries instead. He is another scary dude.

April 10, 2008 11:46 AM  

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