Friday, August 22, 2008

A protest too far

The 1968 Mexico City Olympics were held in a world unrecognizable today.

The American government led a group of allies in a protracted war based on a dubious political theory.

The Olympic host country brutally repressed an uprising of its people.

There were concerns about how the air quality would affect the performance of elite athletes.

On the other hand, maybe the world of 1968 is far too recognizable.

Responding to the world they found themselves in, Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman responded simply, with dignity, eloquence and defiance.

For their dignity they were roundly chastised in the media.

For their eloquence they were not allowed to participate in another Olympics.

For their defiance they were shunned.

As easy as it would be to accuse modern athletes of cowardice in the face of China's social injustice, America's foreign policy failures, and the moral failure of the IOC, the price paid by Smith, Carlos and Norman was very high.

Maybe too high.

The government of the Olympic host city continues political repression, the American government has, yet again, become involved in a war based on a dubious political theory and African-Americans still face challenges similar to those in 1968.

A generation passes, and nothing changes.

It's just sad.

Related Links
Remembering the Black Power protest [The Guardian]
1968 Olympics Black Power salute [Wikipedia]
Olympic podium protest possibilities persist 40 years on [AFP via Yahoo!]

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