"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, April 14, 2008

Other than Tibet, China's OK?

So here's what I don't get about the current contretemps regarding the Olympics and whether heads of state should boycott the opening ceremonies and all: it seems entirely framed in terms of the recent events in Tibet (where China has been behaving thuggishly for a good half-century). Soooo...if the crackdown hadn't happened in Tibet, would we be talking about this at all? Is the idea that the repression in Tibet means that China has crossed some line but that its continued repression of political opposition and religious liberty, forced abortions, support for genocidal regimes, and the like don't cross the line? Is the message that we want to send that you can throw Christian pastors in jail at your whim, lock up and torture people who merely ask for free speech, and act as a de facto sugar daddy to some of the world's ugliest regimes, but just don't act similarly toward the Tibetans?

I'm not especially impressed with calls for Olympic boycotts or whatever - they seem to me a sort of grandstanding that makes the protesters feel good, but has little actual effect. (It would be much better if each American athlete, for example, carried with them a picture or name of a Chinese dissident in jail or under house arrest - or even better if they decided to go meet with them and dare the Chinese to arrest them or get in their way). But what seems to me the rather weird way in which some events galvanize opposition and others are merely par for the course is troubling and doesn't speak well of us.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

The Dalai Lama is like an adorable little baby seal. The Chinese can club Christians all they want, but now they've crossed the line.