On the same day the 2022 Olympics opened, February 4, I passed by something appropriate and timely: discarded pair of thirtytwo brand snowboarding boots. Their abandonment, along the North Avenue alley in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, could be a metaphor for what’s being chucked away in Beijing right now: fair competitive spirit, human dignity, and truthfulness. It’s all humiliating.
Let me count the ways: Humiliating that, because of surveillance, athletes were instructed to bring burner phones to China—and, for their own safety, not to publicly criticize the host nation. Humiliating that China presented as propaganda a token Uyghur during the opening ceremony; what genocide? Humiliating that Russian President Vladimir Putin joined Chinese President Xi Jinping, while Western nations, including the United States, chose not to send diplomatic delegations. Humiliating that Chinese officials dragged away a Dutch reporter during a live broadcast. Humiliating that athletes quarantined for positive SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 are mentally and physically impaired by poor food quality and living conditions. Humiliating, and convenient, that some foreign gold medal contenders test Coronavirus positive and can’t compete. Humiliating that most NBC Sports commentators and hosts are broadcasting from the United States rather than China.
I could go on, but surely these are examples enough. We pretend that what is isn’t. China propagandizes and power-plays what isn’t as we welcome gaslighting and by behavior encourage it. How pathetically godawful is that?
What bothers me is history as I wonder whether or not the past portends the future. With the surveillance and restricted speech, I think of totalitarian regimes ahead of the Second World War. Which brings to mind Germany and the 1936 Berlin Olympics and how they mirror modern concerns about another rising totalitarian state, genocidal policies, and propaganda benefits. In that context, Uyghur encampment and extermination evokes Jews and the Holocaust. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping could be Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler cozying up on the eve of what would become WWII. Western nations negotiated with Nazi Germany, with leaders looking but not really seeing what was happening before them. Is China so dissimilar today?
For the first Olympics in years, I am not watching the telecast. Nor is my wife. There is something absolutely farcical about the humiliation games. I won’t pretend that what is isn’t. I refuse to live in denial about Communist China and its global ambitions, which would replace individual freedoms everywhere with the will of the surveillance state. Say, folks, it’s long past time to recognize the absurdity of ignoring what you see in favor of what you are told.The Beijing Olympics should be eye-opening. Are they for you?