Losing face is but a fraction of what others have lost

In general I’m not a big fan of disruptive protests, seeing them as typically producing more inconvenience than enlightenment. That said, I’ve taken an untypical satisfaction in the multiple protests around the world seeking to shame China in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. While I’d personally feel more of a connection if the protesters were trying to call attention to the persistent persecution, monitoring and attempted intimidation of Christians instead of Tibetans by the Chinese government, any ridicule that can be heaped on that totalitarian regime is ultimately in the service of a good cause.

To be clear, I don’t support or endorse any violent or destructive protests, but I am amused by the daring ingenuity of the protests that have made use of international landmarks in London, Paris and San Francisco. The Chinese government’s objective of using the Games as an image booster is blowing up in — and causing it to lose — face.

When China was first awarded the Games I found it regrettable that a country with such a heinous record on human rights and of suborning it’s capitalist partners such as Google had received such a boon. Surely they would use the opportunity to present a more enlightened face to the world while continuing to betray the truth and it’s own people. If nothing else, the protests have shown Beijing that not everyone is buying it or is willing to kowtow or look politely the other way.

(On a related note, last Sunday I heard a man from the Gideons relate how the organization had been granted the privilege of bringing Bibles into the country and placing them in Beijing hotels for the Olympics — on the condition that they would subsequently be removed from the country as soon as the Olympics are over. We prayed that there won’t be a single Bible to be found when the Gideons go back because the guests and staff will have — safely — taken them all).

I know some say embarrassing the host country is improper and rude and that the Games should transcend politics and be about the spirit of athletic competition. Others say the protesters are depriving the torch-bearers of a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Well, if you’re concerned about the athletic spirit and the ideals of fair-play, sportsmanship and a level playing field then I would suggest that China itself has already thrown these principles to the dragons, and it’s only fair to call them on it. I do feel some sympathy for those of good faith looking to honor the Games by carrying the torch who are being deprived of this opportunity, but on a lesser scale than those deprived of liberty and even their life for trying to uphold the light of freedom.

Embarrassment is too mild a price for the Chinese government to pay for its abuses; at the very least I would that they be mortified.

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