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GUEST COLUMN

America must skip Olympics in China

Most people would not hang out with a man who they know physically abuses his wife just because he has a really big television set. While we might want to watch football on his giant screen, it's impossible to separate the person from his actions and our presence in his living room not so subtly shows support for his bad behavior.

Our government, however, has no such ethical concerns and will willingly consort with thugs, murderers and other criminals. Individually we know right from wrong, but collectively not too many of us have considered that sending our athletes to China for the Olympics is not all that different than catching the game at the wife beater's house.

To avoid appearing to support the human rights violations and the blatant disregard China's government has for its own people, America and the rest of the free world must pull out of the upcoming Olympics. Doing anything less than staying away from the games sends a clear message that it's okay for a government to oppress and torture its people.

While it's unfortunate that the Olympics have to be used as a political statement, it's unconscionable to willingly participate in an event held in a Communist dictatorship where people lack even basic freedoms. Our athletes should not compete on land controlled by a government that keeps its people poor, uneducated and almost completely without hope.

In China, disagreeing with the government, or even publicly wanting a better life, can get you killed. A select elite live in luxury, keeping the masses poor and churning out goods for export to the United States. Anyone who questions the system or asks for even basic freedoms gets shown the business end of a rifle.

It's, of course, the endless flood of cheap, inferior Chinese goods that causes the U.S. government and the big business leaders who bankroll its members to not raise even a slight objection to the Olympics being in China. These companies operate globally and they need Chinese goods and access to Chinese markets to grow their profits.

Businesses should think this way, but elected officials should be better than that. It might not matter to the head of a global corporation that he sells goods made by oppressed workers, but our government should represent some sort of ideals.

Theoretically the Olympics are about the whole world casting aside their differences and competing in a bunch of sports nobody cares about under normal circumstances. Everyone knows that athletes do not make government policy and even competitors from two warring nations can compete in a spirit of friendship.

There's a major difference, however, between welcoming athletes from reprehensible nations and actually sending ours to compete in a country where people lack basic rights. Doing the first respects that the individual athlete has no ability to change his country's policies. Doing the second says we don't care what that government does and that if it doesn't happen here, the United States does not care.

It's naïve to think that the U.S. skipping the Olympics will bring real change for the Chinese people - that can only happen if the free nations of the world start standing up to dictators or at least stop doing business with them. We need to keep our athletes out of China because it's the right thing to do and isn't doing the right thing a little closer to the Olympic ideal than looking the other way while someone commits a crime?

Daniel B. Kline's work appears in over 100 papers weekly. His parenting blog can be found at babydidwhat.com. Daniel B. Kline can be reached at dan@notastep.com.

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