What's more, these criticisms of China are now taking on a threatening shape. Though it is highly unlikely to actually take place, there is considerable talk of an Olympic boycott to protest China's role - whatever that may be - in all of this. It's not like Beijing has enough problems on its plate with the Olympics, what with trying to halve the number of cars on the road because of pollution or trying to get Chinese to stop spitting and jumping lines. No, some in the West would like to boycott the Beijing Olympics to punish China. Let's sample some of these incredibly cogent and thoughtful opinions, shall we? Here's Christopher Hitchens, finishing off a typically pompous article with this paragraph:
Meanwhile, everybody is getting ready for the lovely time they will have at the Beijing Olympics. If there could be a single demand that would fuse almost all the human rights demands of the contemporary world into one, it would be the call to boycott or cancel this disgusting celebration.
Okay, then. Well, Mr. Roger Cohen, op-ed columnist for the New York Times, do you have anything substantive to add?
The nine months to the Olympics present a unique opportunity to shame China into shepherding Burmese reform, beginning with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Hmm, I see. What about you, Mr. Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Washington Post? How are you going to contribute to this lively discussion?
And here's something else I would do: Tell China that, as far as the United States is concerned, it can have its Olympic Games or it can have its regime in Burma. It can't have both.
Alright, mister. Maybe this is typical American bombast. Surely Europeans will be more circumspect and measured. Let's see. Would you like to tell us how you feel, Mr. Vice President of the European Parliament?
The Olympics is the only real lever we have to make China act. The civilized world must seriously consider shunning China by using the Beijing Olympics to send the clear message that such abuses of human rights are not acceptable.
Got it. Boycott Olympics, solve global human rights problems.
Los Angeles Olympic Games, 1984
Maybe, maybe not. It really depends on whether or not you know Nicaragua exists. The late 1970s and 1980s saw the Sandinista government and its supports subject to brutal attacks, assassinations, and indiscriminate violence by the Contras. Civilians were not spared. An estimated 30,000 people died. Did the U.S. have anything to do with this? Well, other than the Iran-Contra affair (where the U.S. illegally sold arms to Iran, then siphoned off the money to the rightist Contras), the millions of dollars of aid supplied, and CIA backing of the entire enterprise, not really. Certainly not enough to warrant a boycott of the Olympics. It was harmless stuff, really. If you don't believe me, here's an excerpt from a New York Times article in March 1985.
A new report by a private group asserts that over the last three years, rebels from one of the organizations seeking to overthrow the Nicaraguan Government have engaged in a pattern of attacks and atrocities against civilian targets...the findings are similar to those in a report issued today in Washington by Americas Watch, a private, non-political organization that monitors human rights in the Western Hemisphere.
One of the witnesses, who was quoted in the report and later was questioned by The Times, described an early morning attack that he said came as he was on his way to pick coffee at a cooperative farm north of here.
Along with about 30 other volunteers, the witness, Santos Roger Briones, 16 years old, said he was was traveling in a Government-owned truck early last December. Nearly a kilometer ahead was a pickup truck carrying armed soldiers who had been supposed to protect the unarmed civilians from rebel attack.
Suddenly, Mr. Briones recalled, the dump truck was peppered with rifle, machine-gun, grenade and rocket fire. Many in the truck were wounded. Those who could jumped down and ran for their lives.''I was hit in the foot and was covered with blood, so I lay on the ground, pretending to be dead,'' said Mr. Briones. He said he remained motionless as men in blue uniforms robbed him of his boots and wallet. ''Then the contras came and cut the throats of the people who stayed on the truck,'' he said, using a Spanish term for the rebels.
''When they were finished, they set the truck on fire,'' he added. ''From where I was lying, I could hear the groans and the screams of those who were being burned alive.''[...]
Mrs. Barreda said she made no effort to hide her pro-Sandinista sympathies. She is a member of a Christian peasant self-help group that works closely with Sandinista groups and also belongs to the official Nicaraguan Women's Association; her husband fought with the Sandinistas during the insurrection in 1979 that ousted Gen. Anastasio Somoza Debayle.
''There were 50 or 60 of them in the group, and over five days they took turns raping me until each had had his chance,'' said Mrs. Barreda.
He recalled how he nearly suffocated people with rubber masks, how he attached wires to their genitals and shocked them with electricity, how he tore off a man's testicles with a rope.
"We let them stay in their own excrement," he said, his gold front tooth reflecting the dim lamplight. "When they were very weak, we would take them to disappear."
"The Americans knew everything we were doing," Caballero said. "They saw what condition the victims were in -- their marks and bruises. They did not do anything."
Not nearly enough to warrant an Olympic boycott in my book. Not even when you combine it with the 75,000 or so deaths that took place in El Salvador (not to mention torture, beatings, kidnappings, all that good stuff) around the same time. So what if, according to declassified documents, the U.S. "ensured massive and continued support" of the government and its military forces? So what if the CIA funded, organized and trained death squads to go on their rampages? I say it all means nothing, at least if we're talking about the Olympics. Plus, it's not as if the U.S. got involved in any other countries in the region. It was just these three! Promise!
Dear Westerners Who Think There Should Be A Boycott Of The Beijing Olympics Because Of Burma,
Please shut the fuck up. Thank you.