Priority check

Priority check

It’s OK to be against the Chinese government, but don’t object to its Olympic-themed Rose Parade float

By Victor Cass 12/27/2007

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Few Americans rem-ember the 1980 Sum-mer Olympic Games in Moscow. The United States was one of several countries that boycotted the games in protest of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union’s efforts at hosting the renowned event were considered subpar by many in the West. As usual, Eastern Bloc athletes dominated what seemed like the “Commie Olympics,” and nothing tangible was accomplished politically — the Soviets remained in Afghanistan for a decade.

The real “losers” in this case were the American athletes who had trained for years to compete against the Russians. American Edwin Moses, who won the gold in the men’s 400-meter hurdles in Montreal (1976) and again in Los Angeles (1984), would almost certainly have done the same in Moscow. If not for the “Miracle on Ice,” in which the US men’s ice hockey team upset the defending Olympic champion Soviet squad in the semifinals of the Winter Games — which thankfully were not boycotted — the 1980 Olympic year might have vanished entirely from the American consciousness.

Why is this important? Because there are many good-intentioned activists in Pasadena and throughout the nation who are vilifying a Rose Parade float commemorating the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Human rights watchers have pressured local politicians to ban its appearance in the parade. Many will line Colorado Boulevard protesting the float, as if it was being driven by Mao himself and decorated with the blood of the millions who died under his brutal regime. Still others both here and abroad who might tolerate the float will call for a boycott of the Beijing Games, as well as affiliated American corporate sponsors.

There is no question in many Americans’ minds that the Chinese Communist Party is one of the most brutal and evil entities that have ever existed on the planet. Millions of people, in China and elsewhere, have been tortured, murdered, left to starve to death, or have been killed in armed conflict at the hands of the communist Chinese and their agents. The Chinese government has also historically and currently collaborated with, armed and supported many of the world’s most despotic regimes and organizations, including the former USSR, North Korea, then-North Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Islamist terrorists, just to name a few. Chinese Communist forces are actively preparing for a future war with the United States, and may have already launched its opening salvoes by probing the weaknesses in our cyberspace and economic defenses.

Still, sport is sport.

Just as most Americans cried foul when Don Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hoe’s,” athletes, and the world they exist, excel and compete in, should be off-limits to political and social demagoguery. Yes, we are all appalled at the human rights abuses that are occurring in China and elsewhere. We would love to put a big asterisk in the future Olympic record books next to the year 2008: “Beijing — we went, but with great disgust at their awful regime!”

WE WENT.

Because we need to go. Just like the athletes, sportscasters, journalists, diplomats and tourists from the United States went to the 1936 Berlin “Nazi” Olympics, where Jesse Owens won the gold for Team USA, and that son of Pasadena, Matthew “Mack” Robinson, won the silver. Americans didn’t boycott, shirk or hide from the Nazis’ brutal regime. We stood proud in the Olympia Stadium, faced evil and spit in Hitler’s eye! Germans got to see firsthand what we were all made of, what living in a free society produced, and that there was no such thing as an inferior race.

Protesting a float in the Rose Parade is self-destructive and superficial, and rings hollow. The float’s not a communist float; it’s just a float representing the Olympics, sponsored by our own Avery Denison Corp. Americans can do much more to assist those being oppressed by the communist Chinese by facing them, not by avoiding them, bad-mouthing the Olympics or putting a political damper on our cherished Rose Parade. In other words, don’t be a Colorado Boulevard, lawn-chair activist!

You want to stand up for freedom? Speak out against the tyranny, genocide and torture that are occurring in places like Darfur and China. Then pack your bags and get on that plane with Team USA. I guarantee that there will be more American flags flying in Beijing that summer than ever before. Go to the heart of the lion’s den and plant Old Glory for all the Chinese to see. Go talk about the benefits of living in a free society to the Chinese men and women on the street, network with Chinese students and free-speech advocates, fire up the laptops and drop the seed of democracy in China, like a cancer that even the communists won’t be able to stop.

The Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world. It shouldn’t matter whether it’s held in Nazi Germany, Moscow or the heart of communist China. It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment where glorious athletes from the free world get to compete against those representing often oppressive governments. It’s an opportunity for Americans to spread freedom and democracy, not at the point of a bayonet, but by example, grace and talent.

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