Bush is arguably facing his last major, controversial decision as President of the United States:
Do we attend or boycott the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China?
On one hand, we need to protest the lack of human rights and absolute contradiction to democratic values that China represents. And unfortunately, contrary to guarantees that China would be gladly open their doors and use the 2008 Olympics to end hundreds of years of injustice and intolerance, China seems to if anything have worsened its religious and cultural intolerance as the games approach. Luke Thomas, an active member of the China Freedom Blog Alliance and supporter of Olympic Watch, warns Americans about participating in the 2008 Olympics in the current state of China:
"Please be aware that the Olympic Games will be held in a country where there are no elections, no freedom of religion, no independent courts, no independent trade unions; where demonstrations and strikes are prohibited; where torture and discrimination are supported by a sophisticated system of secret police; where the government encourages the violation of human rights and dignity, and is not willing to undertake any of its international obligations.
Please consider whether the Olympic Games should coexist with religious persecution[,] labor camps, modern slavery, identity discrimination, secret police and crimes against humanity."
Thomas goes on to summarize the countries where China has been responsible for the genocide of entire nations of people. Some of these include Burma and Darfur, with the most recent atrocities being seen in Tibet. And while the Olympic Charter approved Beijing as the home of the 2008 Summer Olympics, they did so with the understanding that China would live by the self-created slogan, we live in "one world" with "one dream". However, Of Ignorance recently posted that China has officially banned filming from the infamous Tienanmen Square due to recent social unrest. This comes as a blow to many foreign activist groups who planned to make the Olympic games their stage in a quest for equality and humanity.
So the pervading question remains, do we attend the 2008 Olympics and indirectly support China's inhumanity? Or do we boycott them, breaking ties with a country avidly buying up our debt and crushing hundreds of young athletes dreams of a gold medal. Nancy Pelosi offers her advice in an interview with ABC, "I think boycotting the opening ceremony, which really gives respect to the Chinese government, is something that should be kept on the table."
And I agree with her. Looking past our financial dependence on China and boycotting the Opening Ceremonies sends the message that as a country who embraces democracy and touts tolerance of all, we do not tolerate the injustice that currently defines the domineering Chinese government. However, when it comes to the actual sporting events, that's all they really are. Having American athletes compete in events against other countries is simply a competition, not a symbol of unification and support. We don't need another Moscow. It is unnecessary to ruin the years and decades of hard work that Olympic athletes have put into the upcoming summer simply because the International Olympic Committee had overly optimistic reformation dreams for China.
This idea of a partial boycott seems to be rippling throughout democratic nations around the world. The question in most of the European Union is not whether they will boycott the Olympics, but how far they will take that boycott. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has already asserted that she will not be attending the Olympic Games and I'm sure many leaders will follow in her footsteps. (ABC)
Bush's upcoming decision is going to be extremely controversial, and probably more than some realize. Already over the weekend there were demonstrations in San Francisco, most notably the continuation of the Human Rights Freedom Torch Relay, a peaceful protest started in Greece to protest the lack of human rights in China. It will be interesting to see where America falls on the boycott continuum and whether or not Bush attempts to make a stand for human rights and justice.