Arts & Culture

The Beijing Olympics Are Like Berlin in 1936 All Over Again

As the Chinese Communist Party attempts to shove its Olympic Flame down the world’s throat, it is encountering something it finds shocking: Resistance it cannot shoot. Protesters against the Party’s recent massacres in Tibet have hindered the Olympic Flame in … Read More

By / April 9, 2008

As the Chinese Communist Party attempts to shove its Olympic Flame down the world’s throat, it is encountering something it finds shocking: Resistance it cannot shoot. Protesters against the Party’s recent massacres in Tibet have hindered the Olympic Flame in London and Paris. Today the “Grab the Torch” game moves to San Francisco. Party hacks are responding to protesters with outrage and hubris. They have branded those who freely express their opinions through protest as “vile.” “No force can stop the torch relay of the Olympic Games,” Sun Weide, spokesman for the Beijing organizing committee, said in Beijing on April 9. Oh, really? No force? Rather confident, are we? No surprise here: The Party does not respect the power of democracy; it does not recognize its legitimacy, thus it does not exist. In fact, citizens of France and England did stop the torch relay in their countries through massive public protests. These protests are expressions of a growing tide of outrage that the Chinese Communist Party was invited to host the 2008 Olympics in the first place. There is a growing sense that if the Beijing Olympics must go forward at all, they should be used to expose the nature of the dictators in Beijing. The major issue for anyone who believes in democracy is simple: This is not about the games, it’s about democracy; the protests are not against the great nation of China, they are against the Chinese Communist Party. Now, in light of recent and continuing massacres in Tibet, the goals and methods of the Party have been exposed yet again.
Why are citizens of democracies allowing the largest mass murderer in human history to wrap itself in the Olympic Flag? You cannot blame the Party. The Party is simply doing what it has always done. It is currently mounting its largest propaganda effort ever. In the past, the Party mounted such campaigns only in China: Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, The Great Leap Forward, and so on. For those of us outside of China, there are two essential aspects to these campaigns:

  1. They resulted in the death of at least 30 million Chinese, making the Party the largest mass murderer in history.
  2. Their primary purpose was to strengthen the Party’s grip on power.

So, what's the Party’s Olympic propaganda campaign all about? The Party wants to convince its own people that it is the legitimate ruler of China. It wants them to forget Tiananmen. It wants to make them ignore what the Party is doing now (and has done for 50 years) in Tibet. It is using propaganda in China to convince Chinese that Tibetan thugs were murdering poor Chinese in Lhasa, and the party had to crack down on them. The Party wants Chinese—and supporters of democracy around the world—to recognize that it is the legitimate ruler of China, even though it has acquired its power by mass murder, and has never been freely supported by those whom it rules.
Modern nations—a status to which China aspires—recognize that legitimacy cannot be conferred by force of arms. The founding principle of modern democracy is that a government acquires legitimacy from the will of the people, as expressed through free elections. There is no substitute for a popular mandate. It is the only currency of political legitimacy. Any régime that acquires and maintains political power through the barrel of a gun—as Chairman Mao so famously expressed it—is ipso facto illegitimate. The sad fact that all athletes preparing to compete in Beijing must recognize is this: When you hold up your medal, you are pinning it onto the chest of the Chinese Communist Party. You are helping the Party convince its own people that it's rule has legitimacy. You are helping the Party hide the facts of history from its own people, and the people of the world. The facts of history are plain to see. The Party executed up to 3 million small landlords in 1953. The rational was simple: You cannot make an omelet without cracking a few eggs. They could not establish communism in China, and they could not create economic equality amongst all classes, until the petty bourgeois were murdered. That was just one of many such propaganda campaigns, which went on for decades. At least 30 million (and perhaps as many as 70 million) people died to establish the ideals of communism in China. How has that worked out? Well, today the Communist Party has dropped Communism as a realistic ideal. State-managed capitalism and crony capitalism are now the driving engine of China’s march to super-power status. The Party serves as the slave master for foreign corporations: Our shoes are cheap in America because the Party forces Chinese to work without free unions.
Hosting the Olympics is the Chinese Communist Party’s conscious attempt to confer legitimacy to its rule, methods, and goals. It seeks legitimacy in China and around the world. Sound familiar? The Nazi Party tried this in 1936. Western athletes who claim we must not taint the Olympics with politics are speaking from ignorance or self-interest. Is that what they would have said to homosexuals and Gypsies who were already being rounded up by the Nazis, even as the world gathered to celebrate the 1936 Olympics in Berlin? Is that what they would have said to German Jews, in 1936, who though not yet being arrested, were already forbidden to enter stores or restaurants? Just what part of “Never Again” do those in Europe and America, who accept the Party’s Olympic propaganda campaign, not understand? Samantha Power has quoted author David Rieff's suggestion that, "'Never again' might best be defined as 'Never again will Germans kill Jews in Europe in the 1940's.'” I suggest that “never again” means we cannot allow the Party—already guilty of mass murder in Tibet and China—to host the Olympics even as it supports genocide in Sudan and Burma. That’s the Party that is just dying to meet you in Beijing: A Party that is even now massacring Tibetans, once again, while our governments do nothing. The Party is doing the same thing it has been doing for the last 50 years, and with the Olympics on the horizon, the situation bears an increasingly eerie resemblance to Berlin in 1936. Time to stand up and be counted. What You Can Do Start A Conversation: When you buy a pair of shoes, explain to the clerk that you need them to help you find a pair that were not made in China. They will ask why, and you can explain that the Chinese shoes are cheap because the Chinese Communist Party:

  • Prevents its laborers from forming unions
  • Does not enforce China’s EPA regulations (which American manufacturers are required to do)

This education process can work in any store. Educate yourself about why Chinese goods are so cheap. When you go to Whole Foods, and cannot find frozen edamame except from China, ask to see the Manager. Explain to them why you will not buy the edamame from China, and ask why Whole Foods is not supporting American farmers.

Whenever you have time, every purchase, in every store, can be a moment to spread the facts about the Party. The real strength of a democracy is educated citizens. Protest: If you're in San Francisco, you can protest against the Olympic Torch.

Get involved with Students for a Free Tibet and join in some of their actions.

Educate Yourself: Thomas Laird worked with the Dalai Lama over the past ten years to write a popular history of Tibet. The Story of Tibet: Conversations with The Dalai Lama is the first-ever history of Tibet written with a Dalai Lama. This is required reading if you want to know what’s happening in Tibet and China during this Olympic year. You can read reviews of the book and a sample chapter here.

Laird contributed interviews to this interesting Australian radio piece on Chinese and Tibetan History.

You can also hear him n the Paula Gordon show, and on WHYY, Philly.

Watch this chilling, detailed, covertly-made documentary about what the Party is doing in Tibet.

One of the most amazing video reports about the recent protests in Tibet is here.

China Tibet War on Youtube: See The Party version of history and recent events here. Watch a rebuttal here.

Keep abreast of Tibetan news here.

Here is a story to start with: The Party thugs who are providing security to the running of the Olympic Flame through the streets of San Francisco were selected from a special unit of the People’s Liberation Army. This same unit is used to suppress Tibetans in Tibet. Imagine that Nazi Party Brown Shirts were running an Olympic Flame through a US City in 1936. That’s what’s happening as we sit and watch. See the facts, here.

Ask yourself: Who made the decision that it was okay for these thugs be on the ground in a US city? Find out, and protest directly to them. What message does that send to the Party? That their actions in Tibet are legitimate?

Links to Follow:

Tibet Justice Center Students for a Free Tibet International Campaign for Tibet International Tibet Support Network Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Human Rights in China

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