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Olympics and Tibet

April 8, 2008

The Capital Times, WI
April 7, 2008


The Olympics are appropriately referred to as "games."

What is happening in Tibet is no game.

The Chinese government, which is preparing to host the Olympics this
summer in Beijing, is brutally attacking the people of Tibet in order to
put down a legitimate struggle for basic human rights.

The pressure that the world can place on China to stop the killing and
what can only be described as cultural genocide begins with a message
that the games of the Olympics are not as important as the real-life
struggles of the Tibetan people.

That message is beginning to be sent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has become the most powerful world
leader to refuse to attend the Olympics opening ceremonies in Beijing.

Hans-Gert Pottering, a member of Merkel's Christian Democratic Party who
chairs the European parliament, has stoked discussion of a broader
Olympic boycott, saying, "I cannot imagine German politicians attending
the opening or closing ceremonies (if the Tibetan crackdown continues)."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated that he may join Merkel
in saying to the Chinese -- who see the Olympics as a marketing tool of
immense importance to their country's economic and political emergence
-- that what is being done to Tibet stains the name not just of China
but of any country that would join it in playing the public relations
game that the Olympics have become.

Other leaders are opting out of the pageant in Beijing as well.

Czech President Vaclav Havel, who had previously arranged to be at the
Olympics, has announced that he will not attend.

Already, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has announced his decision to
boycott the games, saying, "The presence of politicians at the
inauguration of the Olympics seems inappropriate. I do not intend to
take part."

What of American "leaders"? President Bush has shown little serious
concern for the Tibetans, and much sympathy for the Chinese. That is to
be expected of a man for whom morality has always taken a back seat to
political gamesmanship.

But what of those who would be president?

What say John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

To be sure, that trio is likely be busy this summer. But would they, if
they sat in the White House, play China's Olympic game? Or would they
recognize, as Merkel and others have, that there are more serious issues
in play this year?
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