Thursday, December 03, 2009

The new Olympic spirit?

So remember when everyone was all "boo hiss China"? They were about to host the Olympics and a lot of Americans got their retro commie high horses to talk about--well mostly how great the West and free speech and capitalism are. And granted there were a lot of problems worthy of critique like Darfur and the displacement of people and killing of animals and arrests of dissidents, etc. But those critiques, as I recall, were pretty free-flowing. Sure a lot of athletes took their problematic Switzerland stand but there was discourse at all levels really.
So here we are, two years later and everything is all rosy for Vancouver in a couple of months, right? Yeah, not so much. Apparently the whole "the West is a bastion of freedom and democracy" is crap when it comes to hosting the Olympic Games.
Amy Goodman, author and journalist and current host of Democracy Now was detained at the US/Canadian border when she went to Vancouver to give a talk about US health care and the wars in Asia. The Canadian officials did not seem to believe she had not planned to talk about/criticize the Olympics. They let her in but demanded she leave the country within 48 hours of her arrival. This article has a link to some audio and video of her talk--in which she does talk about her detention at the border. She has also written a column about her detention and what she did find out about what Canadian and Olympic officials are putting their energies toward: security against local dissenters. Not those faraway amorphous Eastern terrorists--but those who have a problem with the way the Olympics are being staged and who and what is disappearing in the process. So when Goodman crossed the border she, by her own admittance, knew next to nothing about the Olympics, now she knows and has given more voice toward the problems surrounding them. Can you say "irony" (without being stopped by the border patrol)?
Also, check out the podcast from the CBC's December 1 show that talks about how artists and performers are signing contracts that include a clause that they will not criticize the games.
O(h), Canada indeed.

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