Saturday, May 25, 2024 -
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The shame of the Beijing Olympics

China hosts the Olympics and every moral voice, or potential moral voice, rolls over and plays dead. Or falls silent. Or turns indifferent. Pick your metaphor or mixed metaphor. The extraordinarily sad reality is the same: Human rights don’t count anymore. Here, China is the worst human rights violator on the globe, and the Olympics present a golden opportunity to apply pressure on China to change. But the few who try gain no traction. The world prefers to gobble up Chinese goods rather than to hear the pain of the oppressed — oppressed by China.

Oppressed in Darfur. China is propping up the Sudan regime that is carrying out the genocide. For China, trade trumps all. If China secures oil from Darfur, that’s all that matters to China.

Oppressed in Tibet. China suppresses Tibetan independence, Tibetan culture, Tibetan freedom, Tibetan diplomacy — take your choice as to the appropriate level of liberty for Tibet, and China suppresses it.

Oppressed in China. Perhaps worst of all, China suppresses her own citizens, raising child labor to an art form; controlling the size of families by enforcing abortions; and building schools below code so that when a natural disaster destroys schools, with the children inside, many parents are left childless forever.

Oppressed around the world. China is now the world’s largest polluter, not even paying lip service to environmental integrity, let alone doing something about it. Who are China’s victims? All of us.

The issue is not the right of China to excel and to succeed. If, by dint of brains and brawn, China can become the world’s economic superpower, this is her right. The issue is China’s assumption of an unrestricted right to pursue her dreams at the expense of others’ lives, and of the planet.

After the Olympic Committee made the spineless move of offering China the Olympics, we thought that the least that people of conscience could do was to make clear that this international reward comes with a price — the price of human rights. We thought that human rights organizations would expose China’s oppression, raise a hue and a cry so loud that countries around the world would impose trade sanctions on China, like the US imposed on the Soviet Union. We thought that Jews would lead the effort. We thought that the unhidden Chinese oppression would outrage the conscience of at least the Western world.

We thought that the idea of a “Genocide Olympics” would catch on. We thought that great debates would break out between those who visibly opposed China and those who advocated “quiet diplomacy.”

Alas. We were naive. It seems that trade trumps all, not only for China, but for every country in the world. There is virtually no protest, and if there is quiet diplomacy at all, it is so quiet as to be dead. The Olympics portend a great celebration — and great shame.

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