Tuesday, August 5, 2008

China wrestles with opposing identities


China's wrestling with her identity is well put together by Georgie Ann Geyer. Neither the people of China nor its government has experienced democracy for them to struggle with the issue. All they have been doing is crushing the dissidents when they rise up, to them it is law and order and not freedom and conscience.

However, since the world has embraced China and she is interdependent on her success on the economic front, she may yield and understand the importance of human rights and allow the Falun Gong to make the point peacefully in Tiananmen Square. After all, you cannot wish away a problem or remove it by annihilating the people. The will of free people will always linger and sustain.

Saudi Arabia has taken the step in the right direction and I believe China has all the incentives to become a good nation to respect and honor her people and their wishes. It is the power of interdependency we can learn from.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website http://www.mikeghouse.net/. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com
# # #

12:00 AM CDT on Monday, August 4, 2008

Georgie Anne Geyer is a syndicated columnist. Readers may reach her through amcdermott@amuniversal .com.

As we face the opening of the Beijing Olympics next week and speculate about what this intensely historic event could mean to mankind, two questions come to mind.Will it be a Games that will resemble the super-nationalistic Berlin Olympics of 1936, when we saw Hitler play on every theme of racial weakness, hatred of others and the triumph of the German people over all others? Or will it have more in common with the friendly, expansive Seoul Olympics of 1988?

In Berlin in 1936, the gathering darkness of Nazi Germany was on display, even though 18 African-American athletes won 14 medals, and Jesse Owens became such a star on the great world stage that Adolf Hitler angrily walked out of the proceedings. The coming Holocaust was in the air.

In Seoul, the Games confirmed the long-struggling but now budding South Korean society as one of the promising young countries in the ranks of the developing Third World. The nation had just written a new constitution; it was bringing in investment, and had opened up the country to the world. Modern prosperity was on the horizon.

There were no longer any turbulent waters in South Korea for its radical complainants to swim in, and so they just simply disappeared. Within a few years, Seoul had recognized China, and all of Asia had changed.

Chinese specialists tell me that China can be seen as torn between the examples of Berlin and Seoul. The Chinese already are cracking down, with massive arrests against Tibetan demonstrations, the recent executions of Uighur dissidents, the literal walling over of any small restaurants or shops that had the bad luck to be in the way of the Olympics, and the expected monitoring of all electronic communications.

Yet, the Chinese want to be seen as saying to the world, we want to open up. Can't you see our gorgeous new buildings, all for the Olympics? Can't you see how we've tried to clean up the streets, not to speak of the air that chokes all?

In fact, no matter what the host country does, the Olympic Games, with their tests not only of athletic prowess but also of virtue, remain the most revealing test of a nation's spirit and sinew.

The displays simply cannot be only controlled expressions of national greatness, for there are too many variables; the truth will reveal itself, regardless. The Chinese already have tens of thousands of police, paramilitary troops and soldiers alerted to protect the Olympic facilities, major buildings and public spaces. And if there are any "surprises," as with, say, members of Falun Gong suddenly appearing in Tiananmen Square, China will simply not be able to control itself – then watch for echoes of 1936.

The government has been accused by prominent international groups of failing to meet promises made on human rights and the environment when it gained the Games for 2008. Amnesty International experts have accused Beijing of "sweeping up human rights activists out of sight." Freedom House states that "Chinese journalists face greater repressions today than in 2001, when the Games were awarded to them."

This China remains fraught with memories of three centuries of colonialism. Orville Schell wrote in the Olympics issue of Newsweek magazine: "China had finally allowed itself to imagine that its national identity might metamorphose from victim to victor, thanks to the alchemy of the Olympic Games. In one grand symbolic stroke, a successful Games was meant to cleanse China's messy historical slate, overthrow its legacy of victimization and allow the country to spring forth on the world stage reborn." And that would be shades of 1988.

It's going to be an interesting Olympics, which will at the very least equal the dramas of 1936 and 1988. Whatever happens, we will see a great country and a remarkable, if traumatized, people revealing themselves before the entire world – at best, expurgating and clarifying their history; at worst, building upon it.

Let the Games begin.

Georgie Anne Geyer is a syndicated columnist. Readers may reach her through amcdermott@amuniversal .com.

No comments:

Post a Comment