Major corporations got up on their hind legs and spoke truth to power when they almost universally opposed the Georgia election reform bill, ostensibly because they were told it was “racist.” They threatened boycotts. They decried the unfairness of it all. They came out in favor of “transparency” and “voting rights.”
But many of these same corporations have no problem forking over billions of dollars to sponsor an Olympics extravaganza in China in the winter of 2022.
Unless you’ve been afflicted with sleeping sickness or have been hiding under a rock for a few years, you know the Chinese Communists have been very bad boys and girls the last few years. They took a completely happy and prosperous island and turned it into a Communist gulag. They are threatening one of the only democracies in Asia. They’ve been bullying their neighbors and have claimed vast swaths of the ocean as their sovereign territory. They are impeding the critically important investigation into the origins of a virus that has killed a million people — perhaps because they are directly responsible.
And they are systematically eliminating an entire ethnic group.
The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group originating from the general region of Central and East Asia. They are culturally distinct from the Chinese and therein lies the problem for the Communists.
Communists only give lip service to diversity. In fact, Communist ideology is all about conformity. And if ethnically distinct people resist all efforts to conform, they must be forced to it.
So the Communists in China have been oppressing the Uighurs in an effort to beat them into submission. They have suppressed their Muslim religion. They have rounded up at least two million of them and put them in camps. Hundreds of thousands more have been put to work as forced laborers in the cotton fields of Xinjiang province. And there is some evidence that many thousands more Uighurs are being used as slave laborers in factories — factories that benefit gigantic Western corporations like Nike.
Nike swears they don’t use cotton picked by slave laborers, but given the difficulty in confirming any information out of that region of China, who really knows?
What is clear is that Nike and other major U.S. corporations will pay more than $1 billion in sponsorship deals to have their names associated with the Olympic games.
Is that really a good idea?
The Games’ major corporate backers might imagine that by plowing more than $1 billion into sponsorship deals for the 2022 Games they will associate their brands and logos with the pageantry, pizazz and athletic prodigies that will be beamed around the globe. They ought to reconsider how those brands and logos will fare, along with their profits, in an event orchestrated and overshadowed by a regime dedicated to human rights abuses on a grand scale. Because even as the world’s gaze is concentrated on the sporting events and arenas in and around Beijing, coverage of the games will also train a spotlight of unprecedented intensity on the violence and repression 2,000 miles to the west in China’s Xinjiang region.
The PR value to a nation like China in hosting the games is incalculable. One need only look at the praise Hitler won when Germany hosted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The international acquiescence to China’s genocide would be signaled by holding the games there.
And corporations are fully complicit in the travesty.
Coca-Cola gravely declares: “Where we have identified adverse human rights impacts resulting from or caused by our business activities, we are committed to provide for, or cooperate in, their fair and equitable remediation.” If so, how exactly would Coca-Cola go about remediating the Uyghurs for the unquantifiable harm that may fall upon them if, as Beijing clearly hopes, its regime is legitimized and its image airbrushed by the Winter Games and their major sponsors?
The idea that politics should be left out of the games is an infantile notion. Since the modern Olympics began in 1896, politics has been at the core of the games. One need only look at the titanic cold war struggles between the Soviet Union and the United States from 1950 to 1992 to see how much politics had to do with the Olympic games.
We might be sympathetic to the athletes who would be denied the chance to compete if the U.S. and other Western nations do boycott the Olympics. But does their desire to compete overshadow their humanity? At its most basic, the Olympic games are a gigantic television infomercial, showing off the Chinese government’s successes and subliminally announcing that China will now seek world dominance.
Do athletes really want to be a cog in the Chinese Communists propaganda machine?