Thursday, August 14, 2008

Not Watching Games

For those who missed it, I was appalled when China executed suspected potential disrupters of the Olympics, and I am not watching the games. I have seen reports from the beginning, though, that have made me thankful I made that choice early on. The steps that China has taken to make for what is considered by them to be advantageous to that country are sad.

The denial of the privilege of going to the Olympics to a medalist because of his views about a country that is a business partner make a deep impression, for sure. There you have a total disrespect for the athletic side of the games, and total dedication to the political side.

Supporters of China's Olympic bid hoped that this month's events would showcase how much the country has changed. Let's stipulate many of the things they regularly assert: China is more prosperous and, in important senses, more free than it has been for generations. It is in the world's interest, and in America's interest, to deal peacefully with China and to acknowledge its growing power. We have business to do with China, in the most basic sense of that word, on global warming and also on many diplomatic questions. And, yes, China's economic growth has been staggering.

But a dictatorship is still a dictatorship, a fact that so many who highlight China's achievements try to discuss only in the most guarded tones because there is such fear of antagonizing the Chinese government. Yet the Chinese government seems to have no compunction about antagonizing those for whom liberty and human rights take priority over sports and making money.

Barring Cheek, a gold-medal-winning speedskater, was an utterly gratuitous act demonstrating that no matter what the Chinese leaders promised in order to host the Olympics, they will not put up with athletes who have the nerve to challenge their policies. (Emphasis added.)

There is not a greater indicator of how little value is attached to the underlying purpose of the games, a celebration of athletic spirit. Originally, in the Greek games in theie beginnings, promoting a national interest was consciously subordinated, to promote physical excellence. That is so far from its guiding spirit now that it's tragic.

The farce of Chinese actuality that has dominated in the games gives pause in other frames of reference. This circus is pure delusion, and denies truths we need to see more clearly.

Weirdly, some nations would rather fool each other – even at the risk of war – than acknowledge a humbler, less impressive truth. To his peril, Saddam Hussein fooled the West into thinking he had weapons of mass destruction. Iran recently chose to digitally fake images of four long-range missiles, launching simultaneously, when only three were actually fired.

It's getting to the point where you can no longer look into a leader's eyes and get a true sense of his soul. Vladimir Putin's eyes said "trust me." Then he invaded Georgia.

For the Cold War era, Ronald Reagan had the right idea by counseling, "trust, but verify," as the Soviets talked about disarmament. But in the digitally dubious 21st century, perhaps President Bush best captured the proper sentiment when he stated in a 2002 speech: "Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me – You can't get fooled again."


Good source of comments about delusion, there, some experts in its use.

If we can begin to refuse the delusion - starting with our media - we can do much better in all our choices. Choosing the reality and dealing with that is a good beginning. It would be especially good if these lessons were applied to the field of national affairs. After that we can better choose what will get us out of the disasters that lies have made for us.

Curtains for these Olympics is my choice. China isn't fooling anyone but itself. I recommend liberal use of that Off button.

That Off button would be very welcome in several other matters of state, such as belligerent statements to other nations, star wars weaponry and threats, rogue states getting economic support. We have a lot of reality to begin dealing with.

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