Morally Castrated Cowards

 Posted by on 28 August 2008 at 1:26 pm  Politics, Sports
Aug 282008

Bryan nails the insignificance of the scandal about the too-young Chinese gymnasts. (I’m going to quote the whole post since a cut-and-paste wouldn’t do it justice.)

The IOC should heed the immortal words of Mark Twain, who said: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a morally castrated coward, than to launch a ridiculous sham investigation of the age of some Chinese gymnasts and remove all doubt.” (That’s from memory, but I’m pretty sure those were his exact words.)

Look: the Chinese government has spent a decade cheerfully spitting in the IOC’s face, flouting every last promise they made in order to get us all to ignore 800-pound elephants like Tiananmen Square, Tibet, the Falun Gong, and the slave labor camps, and give them the games. Human rights? Sorry. Free speech for Chinese citizens? Please—they’ve extended their censorship so effectively that even foreigners and visiting athletes are now subject to it. China has proven that they’ll make whatever empty promises they have to in order to pry what they want out of a clueless and docile IOC, which has not protested. And now the IOC wants to demonstrate its moral authority and commitment to fair play … by humbly requesting documents verifying the age of some gymnasts?

Of course they’re cheating! Hell, they even Milli Vanillied the opening ceremonies! Now it’s true that as a layman I don’t have all the documentary evidence, but China has definitely crossed enough lines that there’s absolutely no reason to extend them the benefit of the doubt, nor the presumption of innocence (and when it comes down to common sense versus a Chinese government-issued passport, I’ll trust my lying eyes, thank you). And that’s why it’s a kind of treason for the IOC to get exercised over trivia like this, while piously ignoring China’s systematic violation of the standards of decency and fair play.

The IOC knows who they’re dealing with, and has known for years, and has taught China to rely faithfully on their “turn a blind eye” policy. There has never been even a token effort to hold them accountable for their promises. That’s what makes this gymnastics business a red herring, designed only to distract people from the utter spinelessness of the IOC (Usain Bolt has also been victimized by this cowardly behavior). So let’s do a thought experiment, and ask ourselves what might happen if the IOC gets smoking-gun evidence that proves beyond a doubt that China forged those little girls’ passports. After prostrating themselves before demonstrably empty promises for all these years, does anybody imagine that they’ll suddenly find what it takes to stand up to China, in any way other than the most meaningless and trivial?

If hard evidence turns up, and that’s assuming that the IOC doesn’t already have it and hasn’t already destroyed it, then I think we’ll see a sort of sacrificial lamb scenario: at most, China will permit one or two little girls to be stripped of their medals, and the IOC will pronounce itself satisfied, and praise China for its openness, and the story will fade away into the general tarnish that’s descended onto the popular ideal of the Olympics as a fair, un-politicized, and sportsmanlike enterprise. Frankly the whole thing makes me sick.

Oh, and let’s add one more item to the long list of China’s evils, to which supposedly civilized nations routinely turn a blind eye: Taiwan.

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