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America has suffered tremendous setbacks within the nightmare, train-wreck presidency of George Bush. Our dollar seems almost worthless and our government owes trillions of dollars, mostly to foreigners, for the first time in our history.
Our economy is in shambles and we have almost no influence in the world past the reach of military, currently bogged down in an expensive and endless war.
I think one would have to go back to the Roman Empire for a similar drop in national fortunes. Many countries have benefited from America's decline. The chief beneficiary is China. They finance our debt and dump their goods on this country to the detriment of our workers as well as our consumers.
Many Americans have said good things about China because they still hope to make money off this vast country. The facts remain the Chinese government is one of the most repressive and brutal on earth, particularly in areas they consider their sphere of influence, such as Tibet.
In addition, China considers our ally, Taiwan,, as part of their country and they have dramatically increased their military spending to lock out our overstretched military from any attempt to interfere with whatever "solution" China wants of their prosperous island neighbor.
As I write this, the idea of boycotting this year's Olympics has gathered much steam. The passing of the Olympic torch has drawn huge protests in Paris and London. San Francisco is borrowing police from other cities in California to combat expected protests there. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom called for unity above politics, echoing the sentiments of the News' April 7 editorial almost to a T.
There is a strong feeling on my part that both Newsom and The News are dead wrong on China, as well as the Olympics.
Your editorial states, "The Olympics is not and should never be about politics ... " While your editorial was unsigned, one would have to wonder what planet your editorial writer has been living on. At least since 1936, the Olympics have been mostly about politics.
Adolph Hitler used Berlin's hosting of those games to showcase how far Germany had come since he rose to power. Mostly, he tried to intimidate almost everyone connected with that Olympics with his brownshirts and SS. Jesse Owens, a black sprinter, won numerous medals at those games and for 40 years afterward was held as proof of American democracy's superiority over other governments. Not political indeed.
The 1956 Olympics in Melbourne were held despite twin boycotts. The Arab nations boycotted the games because of Israel's invasion of Egypt while several European countries boycotted the Olympics because of Russia's invasion of Hungary earlier the same year.
In 1968 at Mexico City, black American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the gold and bronze medalists, gave the black power salute during the Star Spangled Banner to protest racial inequality in this country.
That same year, students in Mexico City used the Olympic-games venue to protest against the authoritarian character of the Mexican government. The Mexican government responded to this protest by shooting more than 200 protestors in the Tlatelolco Massacre.
In 1972, Munich, Germany was awarded the games to show how far Germany had come regarding recognition of Jewish people and their fundamental rights.
This rather backfired when Palestinian terrorists breached security around the Olympic village. Eleven Israeli athletes were kidnapped and ultimately killed by Palestinian terrorists.
Alan Dershowitz stated in his 2002 book on terrorism that this action and the weak response that subsequently came from the German government showed Arab radicals the enormous political use of terrorism and was the linchpin of a movement that culminated in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The Olympics have never been political? Ridiculous! I cannot think of any human endeavor that has been used for political gain by more people in more countries than the Olympics.
Throughout this time, every four years, the United States of America and the USSR would try to show how superior their form of government was based on who had the better pole vaulters and shot putters. This political competition got so ridiculous that the then poor communist country of East Germany had their athletes so full of drugs that Jose Canseco's steroid use looked like he was merely taking soda pop.
The back-to-back boycotts of 1980 and 1984 were not the tragedies of the United States of America and USSR as now portrayed. Without the Soviet Union as a participant in 1984, our country ran roughshod over most of the competition. Ronald Reagan, running for president, used this predictable result to highlight his "Morning in America" campaign.
It would appear not only politics has historically been the most important component but also that the Olympics have often been about the host country, not about the athletes.
Berlin, Munich, not to mention Los Angeles and Moscow, seem to prove that. Another point you made was that having the Olympics in Beijing is the way to restrain China's hand in Tibet.
But China doesn't really care what the world thinks as long as they get what they want. The United States granted China a most-favored-nation status regarding trade shortly after their massacre at Tiananmen Square.
I don't recall any change in their behavior in that instance nor will there be if no opprobrium is granted by the rest of the world regarding Tibet.
When you think of Adolph Hitler and the Berlin Olympics, your argument that the Olympics can restrain a dictator's hands seems pretty silly.
It certainly didn't prevent Hitler from beginning his Krystallnacht and anti-Jewish terrorism the same year just as it didn't prevent the Holocaust or World War II.
The United States has been far too forgiving of China's terrible human-rights record. Boycotting the Olympics is at least doing something constructive in protest, a protest missing in Tiananmen. Athletes can be athletes in many venues. They don't need Beijing.
Busam lives in Cannelton.