Thursday, February 13, 2014

Oppressors, Gays and the IOC

You would think, for most of the last hundred years, that the legislation and harsh anti-gay efforts of the police force would be like a heavy foot on the people’s back. You’d think it couldn’t get any worse, only better, but it has: Like how a certain African country instigated new anti-gay measures just last month, like how India has deleted some gay rights, like how Russia has put into law new oppression against homosexuals…

I’m starting to see some connections.

Meanwhile, as regards human rights and the IOC, (International Olympic Committee) people are naturally focused less on the last hundred years and more on the last decade—Women’s ski jump—and especially on this year’s Games in Russia—Gay rights. As you know, the former Soviets have made new laws against homosexuals. Unfortunately for the Russians, the athletes of the lands with ice and snow are the athletes most likely to know that human rights—when things seem otherwise quiet—are the canary in the coalmine. Human rights are the outer minefield defense—at the first boom, tyranny approaches.

Some people are wondering why the IOC has “thrown the athletes under the bus.” Ideally, the young Olympians should be able to focus solely on their sports, secure in the knowledge they can safely delegate speaking up for gay rights to the IOC. But no. The IOC has fumbled the catch—heck, they didn’t even reach for the ball. This leadership failure is especially unacceptable because, as I heard an athlete explain on the CBC, the Olympics are about encouraging citizenship.

I wouldn’t have connected the IOC to oppression, but—yes. For this sad conclusion, I have only two dots to connect. Firstly, I note that my favorite newspaper essay-columnist, Christie Blatchford, has a recent piece both tragic—because in the middle she names and charts the women who diverted their life paths away from ski jumping—and humorous: She names a prominent official, the one who said, in his opposition to women ski jumping, that ski jumping involved big jumps, “not appropriate from a medical point of view” and near the end Christie says he will be at the Games and she’s hoping he will be there to see all those uteruses safely jumping. She makes him look like a stupid idiot.

Secondly, it was George Orwell who opened my eyes by pointing out that those leaders who would benefit from a bad system must render themselves too stupid to notice. So maybe that explains it: Decade after decade the IOC keeps stupidly dragging their feet on even a simple reform like having former Olympians on the committee. (Update: According to Wiki-pedia, "These last 10 years, the composition has evolved… Member seats have been allocated specifically to athletes…") It’s easy to make a simple theory: They want no light to be shone on their actions. Or perhaps the answer is more complex; perhaps, like so much of human affairs, the IOC motivations are mixed, being both stupid and sinister.

By this more complex theory, the IOC is like the CCP—Chinese communist party. To illustrate: Last weekend I read an autobiography of a former believer, Kenneth Ore, called Song of the Azalea. (2005, Penguin Canada) Ore had been a secret Communist Party member for decades, first in China and then, during British rule, in Hong Kong. Devoted to the revolution, he had organized things, giving and receiving orders, while trusting the Party. At last he realized the system was bad, that honest Party members like him never made it past junior management. The middle and senior management were too corrupt to want honest idealists like him around… To me the dinosaurs of the IOC, who willfully disregarded the British Columbia Supreme Court ruling that the IOC was discriminating against women ski jumpers, would be the same saurians who wouldn’t want honest amateurs on their IOC committee. No, not while staying in their five star hotels on the Olympic dime.

I suppose, back when Russia was communist, Putin would have noticed similar dynamics. I am struck by how Ore, years after WWII, tried to drum up Chinese patriotism by encouraging hatred of Japanese wartime behavior. (Now I understand better certain news out of Asia) Obviously Putin has no Japanese servicemen to talk about, and I would hope Russia’s remaining Jews are no longer a suitable target, but…

Those poor idealists—Orwell knew their fate: In Nineteen Eighty-four Winston Smith notes with dread how a fellow party member is just too enthusiastic and innocent. Sure enough, the guy gets disappeared. Queerly, in the same year Orwell’s work came out in Britain, over in the USA Robert A. Heinlein came out with Revolt in 2100 (aka If This Goes On—) where, as in Orwell’s London, there are electronic eyes and ears in prominent places. Two young heroes join the underground, an organization evolved from the Masonic Lodges. The innocent narrator, John, has a slightly older worldly friend, Zeb. In one scene John asks why the pariahs still persist in their heresy, since after all, “We’ve told them often enough!” In a later scene Zeb shocks him by saying the lodge is inclusive, and mentioning some groups other than pariahs, and saying:

“…and we need all the help we can get.”

I thought it over. The idea was logical, though somehow vaguely distasteful. I decided to gulp it down quickly. “I suppose so. I imagine even the pariahs will be of some use to us, when it comes to the fighting, even if they aren’t eligible for membership.” (in the Lodge)

Zeb gave me a look I knew too well. “Oh for Pete’s sake, John! When are you going to give up wearing diapers?”
“Shut up. Take sex away from people. Make it forbidden, evil, limit it to ritualistic breeding. Force it to back up into suppressed sadism. Then hand the people a scapegoat to hate. Let them kill a scapegoat occasionally for cathartic release. The mechanism is ages old. Tyrants used it centuries before the word ‘psychology’ was ever invented. It works, too. Look at yourself.”
“Look Zeb, I don’t have anything against the pariahs.”
“You had better not have. You’ll find a few dozen of them in the Grand Lodge here. And by the way, forget that word ‘pariah.’ It has, shall we say, a very high negative index.”
He shut up and so did I; again I needed time to get my thoughts straight… END QUOTE

Well, sports fans, what do you think?
Sean Crawford
During the Sochi Olympics
In the land of the free

~I have written on Olympic reform before:
Olympics and Feminism, archived in March 2013
Olympics and Boards, archived in February 2013

~There is a sad scene in Ore’s book where his older brother shows up at the door, ragged and footsore. He has just walked 900 miles home after discovering that the Red Army is just as corrupt as the government army they are fighting. (Historical note: The government army later joined the mass exodus to Taiwan, and later, although they offered, they were not allowed by General Douglas McArthur to join the UN forces in Korea: corrupt armies are not effective.)

Tragically, Ore encourages his brother to keep faith in the Party, saying surely it must have been only a few bad apples… Decades later? Ore has defected to the west, and his older brother has become very unhappy with sacrificing his own life path for the Party, too angry to speak on the telephone to his own brother.

Application: Like those young innocent brothers, I too thought, initially, “surely it is only coincidence or something” that the noble IOC, dedicated to enhancing citizenship and good character, haven’t supported rights for women and gays. Surely, I thought,  any day now they’ll step up to the plate. No. Never.

~On the CBC I heard someone in an “athlete committee” say the Canadian Olympic Committee has done nothing. I wonder why they haven’t dared to “speak truth to the power of the IOC?” I can’t know, but I do know money is not the sole motivator in life. The COC may have things other than money in common with the IOC.
~You aren’t granted human rights by coming to North America; you already have them, everywhere on earth, from the UN declaration of human rights back in 1948; rights can only be denied.


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