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« The Drinking Age | Main | Starving for Truth »

August 22, 2008

Atrocity of the Day: August 22-24

Olympicflagcuffs Mistreating and abusing laborers—including those who created the Olympic image for our viewing pleasure—as well as oppressing the poor. And speaking of labor, sending protesters and others exercising free speech to forced labor camps and covering up what goes on there.

That concludes our “Atrocity of the Day” posts for the Olympic season. (Read past posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Thanks again to Anne for the great idea of highlighting the atrocities committed by China during these past two weeks.

This has not been an exercise in sneering at the Chinese people, nor in taking any moral superiority. It has also not been an exercise in pouring water on the celebration of our U.S. athletes—nor any of the world’s other amazing athletes (did you see those Jamaicans run? Wow!)—as their accomplishments do, intentionally or not, give witness to the Creator.

And, hopefully, this hasn’t been an exercise in futility (“Look at all these horrible things China’s government has done . . . sigh—ah well, on to the new school year”): to acknowledge the atrocities and then just move on, feeling unempowered.

In the realm of human rights, the Church must lead in calling for justice. I hope you do take one or more of these issues (or another related issue not raised in these posts—even another human-rights issue unrelated to China), and do what you can in your corner of the world to call for justice. That could be donating money to a human-rights or humanitarian aid group; supporting a missionary; writing a letter-to-the-editor or writing your lawmakers and members of the U.S. State Department about a particular human-rights issue; and, of course, actively and collectively engaging in prayer. If you want more ideas about China, see BreakPoint’s list of resources.

As columnist Sally Jenkins reminds us,

The Chinese government has counted on sparkling pyrotechnics, anthems and a happy motto — "One World, One Dream" — to obscure the real price of the Games. But it's obvious in the state's fixation on gold medals that the Olympics are a deadly win-at-all-costs national project. Just as Beijing has been beautified with landscaping and postered walls that conceal poorer neighborhoods, the glitter of gold seems to be interpreted as evidence of both prowess and progress.

China has engaged in state-sponsored cheating — apparently forging the birth dates of underage female gymnasts — and driven its athletes like an aggressive stage parent. Other nations do this, too, and no one will ever equal the Soviets or East Germans for federally funded cheating. But there is a special patriotic urgency to winning here that's unmistakable. Mere participation in the Games is not enough, and neither is silver or bronze, which are causes for shame. Some athletes have said that anything less than a gold medal will render all their previous accomplishments meaningless.

Let’s not squander the opportunity for shining a spotlight in the dark places, which the Beijing Olympics has afforded the world, by forgetting those behind the curtain after the Games are over; pay attention, pay close attention to that man -- and all the other men, and women and children -- behind the curtain pulling the levers to create the Oz facade of a "good and normal" China. Until Vancouver.

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