August 14, 2008

Hypocrisy over Olympics bashing

Olympic Hating:  Is China Really Worse than Any Other Host?In the Globe and Mail article [one] of the interviewees (smugly) states, “Awarding the Olympics to China was certainly motivated and inspired by a noble idea, but the experiment has failed.”

Hello paternalism! Who awarded the Olympics to China, and why were they in a place to tell China to clean up their act?

The idea that Canada should give other countries tips on human rights doesn’t sit well with me. Last year Canada (along with the US) was one of just 4 countries who flat out refused to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And in the same way that giving the Olympics to China didn’t spur China on to the height of humanitarian goodness, the advent of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is inspiring a lot of Canadian dirty dealing.

Here’s a tragic example: Harriet Nahanee was a 71 year-old Squamish elder (that’s right, she was 71) who was jailed for two weeks for her part in a protest against the construction of a highway upgrade in prep for the 2010 Olympics. Protesters stated the upgrade would damage ecologically sensitive land. When she was arrested fellow activists asked that Nahanee not be jailed as she was in poor health. Instead she was incarcerated; shortly after her release she died of pneumonia.

At an intercontinental Indigenous gathering in Mexico in 2007, delegates called for a boycott of the 2010 Olympic Games:

Indigenous representatives attending an intercontinental Indigenous gathering in Vicam, Sonora Mexico have called for a boycott of the 2010 Olympics Games…Delegates agreed that the 2010 Games, to be held on the occupied Indigenous territories of Vancouver “BC,” will have an immense negative impact on Indigenous people’s lands and lives. Reading from the proposed resolutions delivered at the gathering, Gord Hill, a Kwakwaka’wakw delegate, stated that “Olympic related mega development on Indigenous lands have already disrupted hunting and fishing grounds and destroyed sacred sites.”
I’ll bet you one Team Canada ‘08 visor that the Indigenous-led boycott won’t get much press.
Comment:  Have no fear...I bet the indigenous press will cover any indigenous protests of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.


dmarks said...

A total lack of comparative perspective. I'm sure they won't get a large number of indigenous protesters of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics just vanishing never to be seen again like happened with hundreds of protesters in Tibet earlier this year.

It's hard to get worse than Mao and his followers. Even Germany long ago repudiated Hitler.

They can compare, but they can't equate.

Rob said...

Can't they? Remember, we're talking about Canada's genocidal actions against its Natives. I don't know how many Tibetans the Chinese have killed, but I bet Canada has killed a greater percentage of its indigenous population, if not a greater number. That makes the crimes comparable.

Also, "disappeared" doesn't necessarily mean dead. For all we know, China is holding the Tibetans incommunicado somewhere. You know, the way we hold political prisoners incommunicado at Guantánamo Bay? Let's wait till we learn of the Tibetans' deaths before we get too high and mighty.

Besides, the destruction of sacred sites (if that's what's happening) is also a serious matter. To many people, spiritual death is just as bad as physical death. You may not think so, but the issue is their beliefs, not yours. If they feel the matter is worth protesting, I'd say it's their prerogative.

dmarks said...

I was actually using recent events this decade. It is consistent and does not let anyone off the hook, because China's execution of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans since its conquest of Tibet is comparable to the genocide experienced by Canada's Natives.

Which is equal? Which is worse? Well, both involve large scale varied atrocities against huge numbers of people, and the scale of each makes it a little harder to play the "this is worse" game. The ongoing Chinese occupation and effort against Tibet also includes an ongoing effort to wipe out the indiginous culture, which as you say is an important facet of genocide.

Back to recent events, the point was that the human rights violations that have occured, and will have occured, against western Canada's First Nations people over the 2010 Olympics protests are likely to be minor compared to what happened in just Tibet this year already.

Not only that, any human rights violations, imprisonments, and violence will be thoroughly reported in Canada. Now, about Chinese news about Tibet? Total silence.

Good luck for anyone in China running any sort of blog, any sort of Chinese "Newspaper Rock" criticizing racial aspects of China's mainstream culture and problems with treatment of conquered non-Chinese nations.

Good point on the spiritual sites, and I am not opposed to them protesting at all, or even getting their way, depending on the "destruction of sacred sites (if that's what's happening) "

Rob said...

There's no reason protesters have to limit themselves to recent events, of course. If they choose to, they can use the Beijing or Vancouver Olympics to protest centuries of injustice.

According to one article, "Activists across the world are using the Games to pressure Beijing over its rule of Tibet and heavily Muslim Xinjiang province, the arrests of dissidents, Internet censorship and concerns about Chinese foreign policy." Meanwhile, Natives are planning to protest Canada's failure to uphold indigenous rights, the destruction of sacred sites, the development of hunting and fishing grounds, and the arrest of political protesters. These sound like roughly comparable lists of grievances to me.

When you're protesting "concerns" about your country's foreign policies, I don't think you can say your problems are worse than anyone else's. Only the "unconfirmed reports" of as many as 100 deaths in Tibetan unrest have no recent Native analogue. Unless you count the Natives who have died from inadequate and underfunded health care, that is.

Anonymous said...

Please...the G & M pretends to be the NYTimes but comes across as the Nantucket Penny Pincher. I live in Vancouver and am indigenous from the states. I see the games bringing awesome jobs and education opportunities to the First Nations that weren't able prior. Vocational training for construction jobs is free for natives as well as managerial jobs for the educated.
While such dialogue is important about mistreatment there also is balance found in the whole story.

Rob said...

Okay, Ives. I'm not actually saying that Natives should protest at the 2010 Olympics. I'm more or less neutral on the idea.

In general, I'm not a big fan of physical demonstrations. I think people should use them as a method of last resort. As readers of this blog know, I'd rather write than fight (in person).

Anonymous said...

"dmarks" shows a consistent pattern of anti-Chinese bias here and across his blog activities. It's anti-intellectual, juvenile, and really boring.

I'm a proud Canadian, and I think dmarks' comments are bizarre and unintentionally hilarious. If he read some books once in a while (other than those published by neocon mouthpieces), he would know that Canada does indeed have a long and horrible history of oppression (abuse, murder, humiliation, relocation, cultural and linguistic annihilation, theft, etc.) against its Natives.

Of course, the United States has nothing to answer for.

dmarks said...

Anonymous: I have read many books, but I have yet to read one by neocons, or their mouthpieces.

Canada and the US do indeed have a very bad history against their Natives. But in the modern era, these abuses are few and pale in comparison to China vs Tibet.

I have no anti-Chinese bias. You will find no examples of such racism. I do have a bias against the PROC government, but that is based on its recent history, especially in regards to its threats against the nation of Taiwan, and its never-justified occupation of Tibet.

"It's anti-intellectual, juvenile, and really boring."

That is a pretty good description of your post, especially with the stuff about anti-Chinese bias and neocons that you fabricated.