09 August, 2008

We don't play cricket with Zimbabwe because...?

Never mind that they throw dissidents in prison. Never mind that they routinely use torture and execution. Never mind the corruption, the oppression, the people who were thrown out of their homes to make way for Olympic venues. Let the games begin!

Of course we all know that China is a dictatorship. We all know that human rights there are allowed or disallowed at the whim of the ruling politicians. We all know that the oppressive regime in China sees the 2008 Olympic Games as a massive propaganda exercise to to give itself credibility and respect in the world's eyes and to bolster its progressive image at home.

But we will suspend our revulsion because sport is such a great way of bringing people together. It breaks down national boundaries, it does away with prejudice and it helps us join hands in peaceful pursuits. Whatever the cost of our tolerance is to oppressed people in China, whatever the value of our support is to the ruling party there (and the value in dollars alone is just staggering), we know in our hearts that engaging China in such global events will, in the long-run help to bring them into the fold, to integrate them with their neighbours (oops, almost mentioned Tibet) and to hasten the rise of democratic institutions in the biggest dictatorship the world has ever known.

After all, it worked so well with Hitler and the Third Reich back in 1936.

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