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Olympic Political Correctness (Why I take offense at the 2012 London Games)
National Review ^ | 08/06/2012 | John Fund

Posted on 08/07/2012 7:27:45 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

The London Olympics features 302 events. But this year there clearly is a new category: racial sensitivity. These Olympic Games are rife with examples of people taking offense, and it’s time to discuss some guardrails and guidelines before political correctness takes over completely.

First, some behavior on the part of athletes is clearly out of bounds. After Swiss footballer Michel Morganella’s team lost to South Korea, he said on Twitter that his opponents could “go burn” and were a “bunch of mongoloids.” That’s hardly sporting behavior, and he was sent home for insulting the dignity of the Korean team. Beyond that, it was just offensive speech.

And sometimes it’s the critics who are clearly out of line. NBC was deluged with criticism because it ran an ad that offended fans of gold-medal-winning U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, who is black. NBC commentator Bob Costas had just finished a commentary in which he said that “much of America has fallen in love with Gabby Douglas” when a gymnastics-themed commercial appeared promoting NBC’s comedy Animal Practice. It featured a small, grinning monkey doing gymnastic tricks.

Because African Americans have sometimes been compared to simians by people trying to dehumanize them, many viewers complained the ad was racist. NBC responded with an apology and an explanation that the ad was placed in the lineup of commercials long before Douglas won her medal. That should end that story.

Then there are the cases in the middle. Greek triple-jump champion Voula Papachristou was expelled from her country’s Olympic team last week after she tweeted a tasteless joke. In a reference to a recent outbreak of West Nile virus in Greece, she said that with so many Africans living in Greece, the mosquitoes carrying the virus would be eating “homemade food.” She was promptly booted for making racist comments “contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympics movement.”

I agree that her attempt at humor was stupid, insensitive, and silly. But racist? Racism means a belief in the superiority of one race over another. I don’t think Papachristou’s tweet clears that hurdle.

It is true that Papachristou was also guilty of making comments supportive of Golden Dawn, an anti-immigrant party whose followers have been involved in ugly confrontations on Greek streets. But while I am not a fan of Golden Dawn, it is a legal party that won 7 percent of the vote in the last Greek election and has 18 members seated in the Greek parliament.

Papachristou has been highly apologetic for her tasteless tweet, but her sporting career still lies in ashes. As Canada’s Calgary Herald pointed out, the decision to oust her “is ironic considering that Greece is both the birthplace of democracy and [the birthplace of] the Olympics. The only kind of speech that needs protection is offensive speech. You’d think Greece would understand that.”

Then there is the case of Nadja Drygalla, a rower who was pressured to leave the German Olympic team last Friday after a TV station reported that her boyfriend was Michael Fischer, who had been a candidate for the far-right National Democratic party in a regional election last year. Some also claimed Fischer had been involved in disruptive protests against immigrants.

Drygalla vehemently denied harboring any extremist views. But the news report prompted Michael Vesper, chief of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, to call her in for a long talk.

“She explained the matter from her point of view,” Vesper told journalists. “I made the problem clear to her.” According to Vesper, the rower reaffirmed her allegiance to the Olympic Charter, and he acknowledged, “I have no doubt that she not only stands upon the foundation of the German constitution but also on that of the Olympic values.” But then Drygalla announced she was “voluntarily” leaving the Olympics, and Vesper accepted her “choice.”

Drygalla has since told the German news agency DPA that her boyfriend “hasn’t been a member of the NPD since May and has distanced himself from the whole thing.” She emphasized that “I made it clear to him in many discussions that I don’t share his views and don’t back them. We didn’t have a very happy relationship when all that was going on.”

If she’s telling the truth, to what office does she apply to restore her reputation? The treatment of Drygalla recalls the classic “guilt by association” tactics that liberals usually rail against when the victims are Communists. The National Democratic party may be odious (government officials have labeled it anti-Semitic), but it is a legal entity with elected members in two state parliaments.

The German media has been tying itself in knots trying to reconcile its desire to expel the far right from public life with principles of tolerance and fairness. Left-wing newspapers are bemoaning the fact that Drygalla was even allowed on the Olympic team, because regional rowing and sports federations were informed of her relationship with Fischer last year. The center-left Berliner Zeitung cautions Drygalla’s critics against making “a snap judgment. Otherwise they may themselves hurt the spirit of tolerance and democracy.”

Drygalla’s former teammates in her Rostock rowing club are bitter. They say the treatment she received recalls the practice of sippenhaft, which means “kin liability.” It was used by the Nazi regime to justify the arrest and torture of the relatives of dissidents and suspects.

People who want to root out everyone accused of holding objectionable views from Olympic teams — or anyone who is related to someone who has objectionable views — would be wise to remember something: The Olympics is about sports, not politics. Every country in the world, no matter how odious, is allowed to compete. That includes North Korea, which starves its own people and maintains sadistic gulags for dissidents. It includes Cuba and Uganda, which persecute gays. It includes Saudi Arabia and Iran, where female adulterers can be stoned to death.

If people really want an Olympics free of people who are offensive, they should call for a committee to screen out countries with abominable human-rights records. After all, some athletes may be complicit in the activities of their government, informing on teammates in exchange for favored treatment. East German Olympic figure skater Katarina Witt, one of the darlings of the ice rink in the 1980s, was later proven to be an informer for the Stasi secret police who met with her control agent even after the Berlin Wall fell.

Somehow I doubt the Racial Sensitivity Police at the Olympics want to open that can of worms. Instead, they prefer to score cheap points by enforcing their brand of political correctness — for offenses that are sometimes real, sometimes exaggerated, and sometimes just silly.

— John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.

TOPICS: Society; Sports
KEYWORDS: london; olympics

1 posted on 08/07/2012 7:27:49 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Young people are totally immature and cannot handle the responsibility of the ‘social media’.

I would hate to tell you the kind of senseless, malicious and irreversible damage these idiots are doing to their marriages to their families and to their own character with the way they use the ‘social network’.

They can take it and put it where the sun don’t shine!

2 posted on 08/07/2012 7:32:25 AM PDT by SMARTY ("The man who has no inner-life is a slave to his surroundings. "Henri Frederic Amiel)
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To: SeekAndFind

What about the Lebanese judo team who refused to practice in London next to an Israeli judo team unless a wall was erected between the two groups?

The Olympic officials promptly caved and built the wall as requested (demanded) by the judo team from Lebanon.

No wall should have been built. The Lebanese should have been driven to Heathrow and put on the next flight back to Beirut.

3 posted on 08/07/2012 7:37:22 AM PDT by july4thfreedomfoundation (The Second Amendment makes all the other amendments possible.)
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To: SeekAndFind
The author of this story is really stretching it. Yeah there was some instances but there is also over 10,000 athletes...

In a way I can see the IOC's view, they have to crack down on this stuff or it would get out of control.

Did the IOC go too far in some instances..yes. They did some stupid stuff.

It will teach the athletes in the future they need to me more accountable for what they say on social media...just as Lochte's mom is finding out over comments on her son having only one night stands.

4 posted on 08/07/2012 7:48:55 AM PDT by trailhkr1
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To: SeekAndFind

The author pre-supposes that “Mongoloid” is a term of disparagement. But here is what Merriam-Webster says:

Definition of MONGOLOID
1: of, constituting, or characteristic of a race of humankind native to Asia and classified according to physical features (as the presence of an epicanthic fold)

2 often not capitalized usually offensive : of, relating to, or affected with Down syndrome

Funny how the herd thoughtlessly thunders off without thinking. Just sayin.’

5 posted on 08/07/2012 8:17:04 AM PDT by Elpasser
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To: Elpasser

When I took college anthropology in the mid 60s one of the races was Negroid. The PC crowd is trying unsuccessfully to insert African-American, even though some Africans are white (Caucasian?), as well as some “African-Americans.”

Need to bring back accurate descriptors.

6 posted on 08/07/2012 8:20:16 AM PDT by morphing libertarian
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To: Elpasser

‘Usually offensive’ doesn’t mean ‘disparaging’?

7 posted on 08/07/2012 8:36:55 AM PDT by bramps
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To: trailhkr1
In a way I can see the IOC's view, they have to crack down on this stuff or it would get out of control.

The problem is they are cherry-picking and publicizing petty offenses while allowing criminal enterprises masquerading as nation-states to participate.

8 posted on 08/07/2012 8:57:44 AM PDT by Mr. Bird
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To: SeekAndFind
he said on Twitter that his opponents could “go burn” and were a “bunch of mongoloids.”

Maybe "go burn" was a reference to when he ran out of free condoms and passed on an STD?

9 posted on 08/07/2012 10:01:47 AM PDT by Tanniker Smith (Rome didn't fall in a day, either.)
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