Ron Rosenbaum

The Olympic Boycott Momentum Grows as Germany's Angela Merkel Takes a Brave Stand

This is noo longer a marginal movement by human rights activists. It makes ironic, but good sense, that Germany should take a leadership position against the Chinese government’s murderous crackdown on Tibet. Tibetans are China’s Jews and the Chinese Olympics are Munich, 1936. And now German Prime Minister Angela Merkel has laid down a challenge to the rest of the world’s leaders by announcing she will refuse to attend the opening propaganda circus ceremony of the tainted games.

The leaders of Poland and Czechoslovakia have already announced their refusal to attend. Their stirring moral clarity is a challenge to the leaders of the rest of the world that the call for a boycott is no mere empty threat. It’s time for those leaders to join it or forever be remembered as enablers of the shameful carnage, not just in Tibet, but in Darfur where, more than anything else, Chinese opposition is sabotaging efforts to end the genocide there.

Angela Merkel’s declaration (and all those who join her NOW before it’s too late to have any effect) could be seen as a reflection of the way memory of the German past can be made meaningful in the present.

But still, she’s only talking about leaders refusing to attend the opening ceremonies, exposing them for the empty Nuremberg rally they really are. A good first step, not the refusal to attend entirely that would be a more-than-symbolic gesture.

Meanwhile ordinary citizens have a responsibility–and a power–to take things further: it’s time to hold American tv networks and advertisers responsible. Roger L. Simon has asked for comments about this blog’s suggestion (see March 21 post) that Pajamas Media take a leadership role in organizing some kind of “I will not watch Olympics broadcasts or buy Olympics advertiser’s products” online position. It would be the kind of human rights activism that do the site proud. It’s something right and left can join in supporting. I hope readers of this post will make their feelings known to him in comments to his post on the subject.

For those who have any doubt about the torture, forced sterilization and murder the Chinese authorities are perpetrating in Tibet, I suggest you check out this report on a first hand British tv documentary. After Abu Ghraib Americans should be particularly sensitive to torture. How about some YouTubes matching a soundtrack of Olympic advertisers’ jingles with visuals of Tibetan victims (and Chinese dissidents) whose beating torture, jailing and murder the jingle-makers are enabling with their Olympic boosterism?

It’s important to expose the whole obscene Olympics marketing machine to be the bloodstained mechanism it is. A massive online petition protest by citizens/consumers can convince advertisers and broadcasters there will be no profit in playing games with torturers and–in addition to a legacy of shame–more persuasively, significantly lower profits from those who don’t withdraw their advertising. It can show the victims their suffering is not being ignored. And it can demonstrate to the police state hardliners in the Chinese regime that their methods can have cost and consequences. Will it change their ways?

There’s only one way to find out: do it now before it’s too late to have any effect.