Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The August 13, 1936 diary entry of Victor Klemperer, "a German-Jewish literary scholar who managed to survive the entire Nazi era in Dresden," offers, by way of George Packer's Interesting Times blog, a cool, damp cloth on the forehead for those suffering from Olympics fever:
I find the Olympics so odious because they are not about sport—in this country, I mean—but are an entirely political enterprise. “German renaissance through Hitler,” I read recently. It’s constantly being drummed into the country and into foreigners that here one is witnessing the revival, the flowering, the new spirit, the unity, steadfastness, and magnificence, pacific too, of course, spirit of the Third Reich, which lovingly embraces the whole world. The chanted slogans on the streets have been banned (for the duration of the Olympics), Jew-baiting, bellicose sentiments, everything offensive has disappeared from the papers until August 16, and the swastika flags are hanging everywhere day and night until then too.

Packer's entire post is worth reading. He doesn't recommend a full-scale boycott of the games or even a principled abstinence from viewing it. It's too late to boycott and not watching would only harm the non-watcher.He just hopes they fail:
When I was in Burma in June, where China is deeply resented for propping up the military regime, an outspoken woman told me, “We hope the Olympics go a-flop.” I love track and field and will be watching the 1500-meter finals. But I also hope the Beijing Olympics go a-flop.

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