It is often said that all effects are side effects and that seems to be true for the passage of the Olympic torch. The tradition of running the torch through different countries is intended to promote the games, show the inextinguishable nature of the Olympic spirit and, of course, promote the host country. I have never followed the torch relay very closely in the past, but was still struck by how worrisome it must be for those bearing the torch to not let it go out. I picture myself doing it, falling face first in a mud puddle valiantly holding up the torch only to have it put out by the water splashing up as my face goes under. The whole world gasps and I am the link that breaks the chain that holds together the games.
The pressure, it turns out, is not quite so great. There is a backup plan, a “real” torch that is kept burning in a nice dry place just in case the bearer has a mishap. Likely the backup has been invoked before, but it was not until the recent chaos in
That is a different topic, the side effects I am talking about relate to the goals of giving voice to the “Free Tibet” movement and embarrassing the Chinese government. By striking at that oddly honored Olympic symbol, this primary goal did meet with some success. The embarrassment, however, was not restricted to the Chinese government and the International Olympic Committee. Many people in and from
Worse still, and I think this is one reason the anger is so great, they see it as racial statement against Han Chinese. Though many were hoping that the Olympics would be an opportunity to increase freedom and curtail human rights abuses in
Some, presumably a small portion, of young Chinese activists have become quite extreme in voicing their anger. They are hunting a particular protester and declaring people (including some of their own) enemies in a manner reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution, an event they are too young to have any firsthand knowledge of. Whether this worrisome behavior is condoned by their majority remains to be seen. Still, the young people of today are the rulers of tomorrow and the attitudes currently being engendered will be with them when they come into power.
So far, the anger generated seems to be directed at those directly involved in helping mire the torch in the mud. I am relieved at this; the scale of suffering that ethnic retribution within
There is a tendency, especially prevalent in
I am not sure who will bring home the Golds at the upcoming games, but I have a feeling many of us have already lost. #
Also by Larry Mongoss: