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Torontop class=Style1>Are we willing to make a statement?
Re: Olympic Boycott for Tibet and Darfur
When the subject of an Olympic boycott pops up, as with the current increase of repression in Tibet, the official lines are trotted out. The Olympics mustn’t mix with politics. Boycotts are useless. Let our political leaders coax the issues with patient diplomacy. All this from the champions of Free Enterprise.
Therein lies the hypocrisy. If free market capitalism rules all, as it most certainly rules the modern Olympics, then we have little choice but to play by those rules. Preeminent is the rule that the market determines the winner. If you buy the product, thumbs up. Don’t buy, thumbs down. This is by far the most significant way for the individual to vote for or against, or influence policy. For the Olympic boosters to deny the power of such influence is laughable.
I suspect that their real, though unstated, argument against a boycott is that the determining factor should be economic, end of story. If you stand to benefit you must vote for. If not, against. However the repression of the Tibetan people is above all a moral issue, as is the genocide of Darfur. So that is what it boils down to. Are we willing to make a strong statement in favour of a repressed people and against those we hold morally accountable — or because we stand not to gain, turn a blind eye? Patient gentle diplomacy has proven itself to be of minor value and at any rate our government (among others) appears to be unable to make a substantial statement. So what about us?
If you feel the issues of Tibet and Darfur trump so called “economic imperatives” or “purity of sport” then I see little choice but to boycott the Beijing Olympics in whatever way you can. If we can make any kind of “market statement” why wouldn’t we?
And what about our precious 2010? Like many of us I stand to gain and I am not anti-Olympic in spirit, yet in my mind, unless we make some serious and no doubt expensive effort in support of our own less fortunate citizens then do we deserve it? If we wag our finger at China yet essentially ignore all that drug and mental illness misery in the Downtown Eastside while building monuments to ourselves then we certainly join the ranks of the shamelessly hypocritical. If we choose to rake in the windfall yet can’t cough up a little chump change for treating drug addiction and mental illness as the priority healthcare issues they are then we should all give ourselves a swift kick in the ass.
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