There was a time when the events unfolding in Tibet would have caused rapid worldwide outrage, followed shortly by a flood of withdrawals from the Olympics.
But that was when China was of little economic importance.
I am dismayed at how flexible our collective principles are when it comes to the economy. It seems that the only time when a political leader has to be concerned about minor trifles — say for example, killing off a few tens of thousands of people from that pesky tribe next door — is when they’re not either producing oil or keeping those same tribe members working 16 hour days to make cheap clothing.
So it is with China. Most of the West is enjoying a great standard of living(*) thanks to China. Their leaders know this well. They may even be rubbing it in our faces. Or maybe they’re just rubbing the 1938 games in our faces and laughing.
Are we going to actually support the principles of Human Rights and take a stand? What, and pay more for consumer goods as a result? In the pocketbook versus principles battle, it looks like pocketbook wins, no contest.
If politicians are unwilling or unable to act, it’s up to the people. A small step though it may be, I’m opting out of the Olympics this year. This summer I’ll be watching something else.
There’s also a few companies who have lost my business: Coca-Cola, GE, Johnson&Johnson, Lenovo Group, McDonalds, UPS, Panasonic, Swatch, Samsung… at this point, the Olympic logo on any product is an icon for “don’t buy me”.
Last but not least, there’s a Facebook group that expresses similar sentiments. I don’t agree with everything they say, but they’re close enough and are the largest of a handful of similar groups. Join them and be counted.
* I mean this in the “wow, this is inexpensive” sense, not in the formal economic sense.