Sunday, May 11, 2008

Small Gestures Maybe, But Gestures of Hope

There are many reasons why we should not boycott the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer.
They will bring huge employment and therefore benefit to tens of thousands of Chinese people.
They will provide an opportunity for athletes from Third World countries to appear on a world stage and, maybe, break free from poverty.
They will provide the whole world with an opportunity to see all that is best about sport.
And so on.
In fact, I would say, that if I sat here for long enough, I could probably come up with a hundred reasons not to boycott the games.

Indeed, if I was simply to make an argument for boycotting the Games on the basis of China's behaviour in Tibet, despite the worldwide protests during the farcical Torch Run, there aren't really that many people who care. A pity. But true, nonetheless.
Some people may be appalled that China is doing its best to arm the despot Mugabe in Zimbabwe despite his brutality, his dishonesty, his corruption and the patently fraudulent nature of the elections there. At least, unlike China, there were elections there.
Others might feel a touch of nausea when they think of how many people are executed in China each year, often after no more than show trials and often with doctors on standby to harvest their body parts.
There are still more people who recoil at the idea of the way China treats its own citizens, those who raise even the quietest voice against the unelected regime, those who are summarily thrown out of their homes to facilitate some development or other, a practice Bertie Ahern appeared to admire, those who practice the Catholic, or indeed, any other faith, those who dare to be different in any way.
There are those angry at the way China shows utter disregard for the environment in its rush to be as greedy as, well, as greedy as us.
All of those thing sicken me.
But I am sickened most by China's support for the Government of Sudan, the government which has facilitated and carried out genocide in Darfur, a government which will, most certainly, not consider the nationality of the UN troops operating in Chad, if they find that operation inconvenient to them. That, of course, includes the Irish troops
There are many sick countries on this earth of ours, many countries rules by despots, dictators, brutal armies and, in some instances, men who are simply mad.
We must, of course, help the people of those countries as best we can.
Legitimising brutal regimes is not the way to go about it.
Shaking hands with the devil is not the right thing to do.
Personally, I will have no interest in the Olympic Games.
I am still, I fear, a child of the Sixties to this extent.
I hope.
I know in my heart that small gestures, even millions of them, are as naught against the power of the powerful.
But I'm for making them anyway.

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