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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Potemkin Olympic Village

China is evil. Freakin' evil. Of that, there should be no doubt. We all remember Tiananmen Square and the brutal way a student protest was put down there in 1989. Prior to the Olympics, China also put down unrest in Tibet. As the Olympics are happening, China fights Uighur separatists in the western province of Xinjiang -- although there's very little coverage of that.

How should we respond to the oppression in China? President Bush, who never misses an opportunity to kiss the religious right's butt, cast China's entire human rights record as merely religious oppression -- as if China were guilty only of shutting churches.

Of course, part of the problem is that Bush -- who's used his term as president to spend money like a drunken sailor in a strip club -- has basically sold the US to nations like China. It's one thing to embarrass them slightly, it's another to call a criminal regime a criminal regime. Being part of a criminal regime all his own doesn't help Bush's position any, either.

So Bush was solemn when solemnity was called for and, for the rest of his visit to Beijing, acted the way Bush typically behaves abroad -- loud, clownish, and generally a douchebag. There's a reason this guy shies away from diplomacy; he has zero natural ambassadorial talent.

So, the fact that China has mobile organ harvest vans isn't mentioned. Big freakin' buses that go out, capture dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners, execute them, remove their organs, and sell them. China's isn't a wasteful government. If you can kill dissidents and sell their body parts, then literal rolling butcher shops are the answer.

Sometimes, they're able to sell the entire corpse, which is stuffed like a dead horse and put on display in traveling exhibits. Either way, they manage to get rid of a problem citizen and profit from their death at once. It's just good business for a nation that's come more and more to resemble the soulless American corporations that power its rising economy -- profits first, people last. China is the very definition of the modern corporate nightmare.

The environmental damage can't be ignored, either. The only place in the world that may have worse air is Mexico City. China's water comes in pastel shades, from the dyes and chemicals used in manufacturing. In 2005, China admitted that more than 70% of its lakes and rivers were contaminated with pollution. "China's waterways are dying, and its rivers are running black from industrial effluent and untreated sewage," reported the BBC at the time. An estimated 360 million people have no access to safe drinking water.

Given all of this, people are left with a problem -- do you watch the Olympics and support this corporate hellhole?

The truth is, these corporations don't give a damn whether you watch or not. They want you to see their commercials. If you don't want to support China, don't buy the crap. It's that simple. Refusing to watch isn't going to do anything; refusing to shop at Wal-Mart will do a lot more. Sure, China's using the Olympics to portray themselves as wonderfully modern and worldly, but seeing that Potemkin Olympic village isn't going to harm anyone. Believing it is the problem.

The fact is that China is what a corporate world would look like. A world not of citizens, but of consumers. No environmental regulations, no consumer protections, no rights or individuality -- just a pocketful of money to spend on crap made out of lead paint and poison.

It doesn't make any difference to them who wins what medal, who watches what event, who is whose fan. What matters is that you buy the Official Happy Meal of the 2008 Olympics, the Coca-Cola in the commemorative can, the official sportswear made in a sweatshop in Shenzhen. If you don't watch a second of Olympic coverage, it doesn't make a damned bit of difference -- so long as you buy the stuff. Just stay away from crap with the Olympic rings on them and you'll do more than averting your eyes -- athletes aren't eating Snickers bars anyway.

And then, in two years, we can go through all of this again, when the winter Olympics are hosted by Russia. Corporations won't give a damn if you watch those, either.


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1 comment:

Emily said...

I knew that China's government was much like a pile of particularly malevolent horseshit, but I hadn't heard about the execution vans. Cripes, that makes my stomach churn.