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Olympic Protests 
13th-Apr-2008 11:11 pm
Off and on I've been watching/reading the reports regarding the protests that have been happening along the path of the Olympic Torch. I really haven't been overly interested in them as I don't think the running of the torch is the appropriate venue for such protests. Now, keep in mind that I'm in favor of people protesting. Many things of the world would not have changed for the better if it wasn't for protests. Still, when I think of the Olympics I think of an event where governments are supposed to put their personal agenda's aside and allow their citizens to compete and show their skills of physical prowess (for the most part).

Then things got a little more in my face this weekend. You see, I have a someone dear to me in China. She was born there, and she was raised there. We talk on a regular basis. For the most part she stays away from serious topics (she refers to them as "heavy"). She lives her life working and going out of her way to help her family and friends when they need. I've seen (so to speak) her go way above and beyond what I believe I am capable of when it comes to helping others. So, when she began to talk about how upset she was with how it seemed the western media was portraying her country I knew it was really weighing on her mind.

Perhaps it was my statements of not liking the protests that allowed her to open up. Perhaps it would have happened anyway. Needless to say she vented her frustrations. Wondering why everyone seemed focused on talking negatively about China rather than speaking about the Olympics. I told her that it was due to their concerns about how China handled human rights and the situation with Tibet for the most part. She than began to speak on her confusion regarding the Tibet issue. I told her my level of understanding regarding Tibet was severely limited (which I think is the same for most, but that doesn't stop them from holding or wearing things with slogans regarding Tibet). So, she shared with me a bit of what she had learned growing up. I was quite taken aback. What I was hearing, I simply couldn't believe.

I have considered putting up a few things she told me. I even considered putting up the key words I used in my search on Google that lead to the things I read. However, I'm not going to do either. My reason? One word, propaganda. Please note that I don't mean that in reference to what I was told by my friend. I mean that in regards to what information she has been given by her country and what information I have been given by mine. I mean that in regards to what information she has been given by her media, and what I have been given by mine. I don't know which is "real" I don't know which is "right" as I don't know to what degree each is "real."

What I can say though is that I believe there needs to be a complete historical review of the connection and interaction between Tibet and China. I also believe that part of that needs to be a review of the societies of each independent of each other. If even a bit of what I've read is true the issue of Tibet and China could be very similar to my views of voting in the past, which is that it might be a matter of supporting the one who makes things less worse. Or as my friends and I have been known to say on occasion, "A higher state of suck."

So, again I say I wish the Olympics would be left to be the Olympics. Keep out the propaganda. The time for people to make focused and meaningful protests were when the location for the Olympics was being chosen. Hell, even up to the time the running of the flame started. To me the form of these current protests only serve to detract and distract from those individuals who have spent a large portion of their lives practicing to compete in these games. If those individuals choose not to compete because of their beliefs about China, Tibet, human rights, gas prices, the names of colors Crayola uses. I can respect their choice to bow out as a protest. I can respect those who wish to talk about the issues on their mind at this time even throughout the Olympics. I just wish they would do so "outside" the Olympics.

Maybe I'm wrong about all this though. My opinion, cut down to the basics? Let the athletes compete and focus on their competition and don't take away from their desire to compete.

I guess we'll all see what these protesters and the media covering them after the Olympics are over. That's when the true level of conviction will show.
Blair Witch - Heather Scared
14th-Apr-2008 09:35 pm (UTC) - M's 2 cents
Once again, I'm faced with my typical fence sitter kind of dilemma.

I like the idea of the Olympic Games being for the competition, for the athletes and for the friendly competition between nations as well. I, personally like the games, like watching them and like the idea that the world can try to put aside it's differences and engage in this event.

But...I also see the attention that Tibet is getting in the wake of these protests and I think it's long overdue. At least from my knowledge of Tibet and China's human rights record, it's far from me to criticize people using this high profile event in an attempt to highlight these issues.

And for those who suggest that the Olympics is supposed to devoid of politics, issues of race or making a statement, take a look at its history. The US boycotted the 1980 Moscow games because of the Afghanistan invasion. The Soviets boycotted the 1984 LA games in retaliation. There was the 1968 black power salute. In 1936, Jewish athletes refused to participate in the Berlin Olympics because of Nazism. In 1908 Irish athletes angered at the refusal of Britain to give Ireland its independence boycotted the Games in London. There is actually quite a long tradition, if you will, of using the games as a forum for protest. It would be sad to see the Olympics become only a source of protest or a venue for the airing of grievances though. I would hate to see the games become completely secondary to these kinds of things, but it has occurred and will probably continue.
15th-Apr-2008 02:43 am (UTC) - Re: M's 2 cents
You know you'll never get grief from me as far as fence sitting goes. I tell people now that I tend to do back flips on the fence. I don't buy into the "this side vs that side" crap.

Believe me, I know the Olympics aren't devoid of politics. My problem in this situation is that things seem to be going farther than in the past. Grabbing the torch from the runner? What the HELL does that have to do with China? Really? Jack squat! That's just someone being an idiot and drawing attention to themselves. In my mind the guy who did that made the issue about HIM not the issue. Personally I think the authorities should have been allowed to play pinata party with him.

Stand to the side, and hold signs. Chant. That's all good. But creating a situation where the runner needs security...you've gone to far. You are now exhibiting the same behavior you despise in my mind.

You hit the nail on the head as far as where I'm worried things will go when you said you'd hate to see the games become secondary to such things. That last thing we need is a bunch of "causeheads" showing up every Olympics.
15th-Apr-2008 03:43 pm (UTC) - Re: M's 2 cents
"Stand to the side, and hold signs. Chant. That's all good. But creating a situation where the runner needs security...you've gone to far."

Completely agree.

I would be interested in what your friend in China had to say about her knowledge of the Tibetan situation from her point of view. You indicated that you weren't going to post the info here and I can understand that. It would be like comparing notes between cultures. I find it very fascinating. And as many of us know...propaganda, news filtering and censorship happens everywhere to a certain degree and in various forms. So, as you indicated, it's possible that we're not getting the whole story over here as well.
16th-Apr-2008 03:48 am (UTC) - Re: M's 2 cents
I'll do this. Search with the following phrases (I used Google) and feel free to read what you want out of what comes up:

"tibet lama slavery"
"tibetan human skin drum"

I think it's safe to say that depending on what links you read you are likely to come across the the "knowledge" my friend has.

As I have said before though when you start to read it, and then think about a lot of the stuff we're given it ALL starts to sound like propaganda to some degree.

That is why I'm trying to focus on the religious/faith based information regarding Tibetan Buddhism's history. I am always concerned when government and a religious/spiritual institution are one and the same and it looks like it may have been the case in Tibet in the past and I'm wondering if that would be the case in the future.

I'd wonder if others would also be concerned as we (the US) don't tend to get along with countries where government and religious/spiritual institutions are one and the same.
16th-Apr-2008 05:50 am (UTC) - Re: M's 2 cents
Thanks for pointing me to some info. I read this article by Michael Parenti that was very interesting and informative. He's a well known poli-sci lecturer, author, prof, etc.

I should have known that there was more to the Tibet story then we're typically led on to.
16th-Apr-2008 06:17 am (UTC) - Re: M's 2 cents
That was one I was hoping you would come across and read. Yeah, after reading that...makes you really wonder what we're being fed on our end.
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