Boycott. It’s a world coined in Ireland in 1880, when impoverished tenants in County Mayo took passive action against land agent Captain Charles Boycott who, not only, refused to reduce rents, had the unfortunate people evicted for failing to pay on time.
The local people decided they would have nothing to do with Boycott or those working for him. It hurt the people. But, in the end, it hurt Boycott more.
It was the Times of London which first used the word as a verb.
There are those who think a boycott is a crude tactic. And it may well be.
But it not half as crude as the tactics employed by, say, the Burmese generals. It is nowhere near as crude as, for example, the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe. It is in the same league when it comes to the crudity and unpleasant tactics used by China to suppress the people of Tibet.
What have they all got in common?
China. China which supports the Burmese generals. China which props up Robert Mugabe’s regime.
And that is why it is utterly wrong for the people of the world to travel to China next year for the Olympic Games, as if everything was fine.
Indeed, you don’t even have to look to Tibet or Burma or Zimbabwe to begin to ask yourself if it right for the nations of the world to give legitimacy to the Chinese government with its appalling human rights record.
China has mistreated millions of its own people, forced them out of their homes to nowhere in particular in the name of progress.
Its use of the death penalty is not only frequent, but in many cases, for purely political reasons.
It oppresses religious practice. It will not permit freedom of speech (Google this in Shanghai and you won’t find it). The Tiananmen Square massacre still lives in the memory.
China too, is fast becoming the world’s greatest polluter, not caring a whit about the future of the planet.
But even if you could leave aside China’s dreadful record on human rights and pollution and the death penalty within its own borders, it is its opportunistic support for corrupt regimes which should result in those from civilised countries refusing to travel to Beijing next year.
Sure, winning medals can bring joy,especially to those in poor countries. And certainly, the financial rewards for the winners of gold medals are, potentially, enormous.
But is any of it worth the repression of the people of Burma? Is any of it worth the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe? It is worth what the Chinese do to their own people?
Of course not.
Has any world leader the courage to suggest a boycott?
And we won’t be looking to our own ‘leader’ Bertie Ahern, he being a great admirer of all things Chinese.
But someone, somewhere, should make sure that China’s odious regime is not legitimised by something, once, as fine as the Olympic Games.