Friday, February 22, 2008

Steven Spielberg is a spoilsport (literally)

I've been meaning to blog about this issue for about a week now, but I got sidetracked by the ZTE controversy, which has been the hot topic of late. Yesterday afternoon my sister sent me a Yahoo news article that reminded me of my beef with Steven Spielberg, who has withdrawn his offer to serve as an artistic adviser for the Beijing Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies, ostensibly to protest China's economic ties with Sudan.

I'm not going to delve into the issue of China supplying Khartoum with arms in exchange for oil, nor will I get into the whole genocide versus war crimes debate, nor will I discuss the gross violation of human rights in Darfur. However, let me make it clear that I do unequivocally denounce the atrocities being perpetrated in that region, and I have no problem with putting pressure on supporters of the Sudanese government. What does get my goat is how bleeding heart do-gooder celebrities like Spielberg and Mia Farrow and Russell Simmons are exploiting the Beijing Olympics as a means of strong-arming China. If they wish to bully China into dissolving its trade agreement with Sudan, fine. Pen indignant open letters or strongly worded emails to the Chinese government, deliver impassioned speeches at UN plenaries, film attention-grabbing documentaries, picket Chinese embassies around the globe, b
oycott China products (they're all toxic anyway right?), stop eating Chinese food, kick Yao Ming out of the NBA, whatever. But they shouldn't be using the Olympics as a weapon. The very point of the Games is to promote peace and goodwill among nations. It's a time when all political conflicts are set aside, when racial hostilities are suspended, and when differences are momentarily forgotten. The Olympics is not a venue for protest, nor a platform for politicking.

Once every 4 years, the whole world comes together in friendly competition, solidarity, and brotherhood. During the Olympics, people of different nationalities, ages, races and religions celebrate the triumph of the human body and spirit, uphold the universal values of honor, courage, and fair play, and reinforce the bonds of their shared humanity.
With their protest, Spielberg and co. are not only spitting in China's eye, in effect they are spitting in the face of everything the Olympics represents.

The protesters
probably mean well, and they probably sincerely believe that they are helping Darfur by turning their backs on the Beijing Olympics. While I admire their noble intentions, I vehemently disagree with their method. And I find it absurd, and sad, that their zealous humanitarian efforts and activism are threatening to spoil an event that stands for the very things they are fighting for.


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