Torchless in San Francisco

I spent most of my afternoon waiting for an Olympic torch that would never show up. As you might guess, I was down at the river front along with a contingent of folks from AI and Care2 to protest the Chinese government’s human rights record in Tibet. It was a hodge-podge of groups and individuals, including a fairly sizable gathering of pro-Chinese government supporters. It was interesting was to watch the flag waving (on both sides).

From friends, I heard that the situation did get tense on a couple of occasions, but fortunately, no one did anything stupid. I was at some distance from any potential disturbance however, as I’d managed to get separated from my group and ended up chatting with a bunch of out-of-town visitors. A good part of my time was also spent tracking down information on the torch’s whereabouts. Given what happened, i.e. the torch getting walked down empty streets, why even bother? Why not just send it to Buenos Aires in the first place?

Personally, I was happy to be there. I didn’t particularly mind the waiting around. It was a good opportunity to highlight to the Chinese government the cost of its realpolitik games. If it wants to stand on the stage as a world power, then it ought to know that there’s heat in that kitchen. Obligations, responsibilities, and a moral reckoning for decades of abuses.

Of course, Chinese officials don’t see themselves as villains. I’m sure they justify their actions as necessary for the development of Chinese prosperity. (Sudanese oil anyone?) But this “progress” at any cost… well, it has a cost. And as I mentioned, consequences.

Karma – works for people, works for governments.

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~ by Samer on April 10, 2008.

2 Responses to “Torchless in San Francisco”

  1. I feel bad for the athletes – they re the ones that are going to get caught up in this mess.

  2. The boycott calls I’ve been seeing are for the opening ceremonies, not for the Olympics themselves. That’s where the host country really gets to show off its culture and nationalistic pride.

    This kind of boycott call is very similar in approach to “Support the Troops, Bring them Home.” Frankly, I don’t think anyone wants to see all the training and effort put in by the athletes wasted. I remember the boycotts by the U.S.S.R. and U.S.A., and I can’t imagine the disappointment that the affected athletes must’ve felt.

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