Is the torch relay a shining symbol of the purity of the Olympics worthy of our respect, or is it merely a shameless political tool that deserves to attract protests? This report by an Australian journalist puts it into perspective and describes the event in San Francisco. It is worth reading the source for its Aussie rhetorical style alone, but in case the link is transient I will paste the most pertinent part here.
_The idea that prior Western Olympics have been held by virtuous nations is laughable. The modern competition was invented by Baron de wossname as a way of inculcating the military virtues he thought French youth needed in the wake of the nation’s 1870 defeat at the hands of Prussia, and most of the modern pageantry was invented by Hitler in ’36. _
In ‘04 it was held in the US when they were running a brutal colonial war in the Philippines, ’08 happened in Paris, despite their gulag of concentration camps in Algeria, Antwerp got it despite the Belgian Congo, Berlin, Moscow, Mexico City say no more – and in 1956, Australia had been helping the Brits in a brutal colonial war against Malaysian independence, counting Aborigines as fauna and testing a-bombs on them. After that it got better – the international organisation was run for two decades by Franco’s minister for Sport. Yeah, you wouldn’t want China to lower the tone, for chrissake.
What a fine example of journalistic balance! Equally offensive to all nations especially his own. The 1956 (Melbourne) Olympic Torch was the subject of a prank worthy of the Chaser. So should we be sensitive to the feelings of the Chinese who are desperately trying to make a success of the ’08 Olympics for us – and themselves – or should we praise the current, and as we have now seen traditional, attempts to rub their nose in their own iniquities?
I am inclined to the latter.