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The Relay of Fire Ignited by the Nazis

Original post made by joel, Charleston Gardens, on Apr 16, 2008

If you want to know how the Olympic torch really began its “Journey of Harmony,” as the Chinese call its current relay, if you want to see why the torch has had to pass through a human obstacle course composed of protesters, SWAT teams and police in San Francisco, Paris and London, then do not look to Tibet’s grievances against China. Look to the opening of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1938 film, “Olympia.”

In that homage to Berlin’s 1936 Olympic Games the origins of this ritual are revealed. Never before had a lighted torch been relayed from a Greek temple in Olympia to an athletic competition, let alone by thousands of runners trying to keep it from being extinguished. Web Link

Comments (6)

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Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2008 at 11:38 am

Fascinating story, I did not know that history.

BTW only reason Mussolini didn't get a Fascist Olympics was timing - he was scheduled for 1942.

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Posted by sara n
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 16, 2008 at 12:38 pm

When Chinese security needed targeted Internet surveillance technology to catch Falun Gong practitioners, Cisco provided it to their specifications.

The West had three clear openings to bring the Falun issue to a head:

1)when the Beijing bid was nearing fruition in 2000,

2)when an energized Falun Gong movement in the West emerged four years later with documentation that thousands had been murdered and over 100,000 had been thrown into labor camps,

3)and finally in 2006 when credible reports of systematic organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners seeped out, pushing the potential death toll well into the tens of thousands.

Falun Gong is only one in a long historical line of atrocities the West has chosen to ignore while they were happening.

But hating both sides is no longer a valid strategy for the Beijing Olympics.

We are assisting in the construction of a simulacrum of an independent, modern society, while the reality is actually quite fascist in nature.

Like its forerunners, it alternates between demonizing Western democracy and lusting for the tokens of Western legitimacy to help it maintain power over its citizens--the same citizens it so fears.

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Posted by jr
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 16, 2008 at 12:49 pm

The Chinese government, in its insecure and bullying fashion, keeps pushing its luck with acts like the army-saturated torch welcoming ceremony in Beijing and the endless torch relay with its unprecedented scale of 85,000 miles and 20,000 torchbearers, scheduled to hit not just every Chinese province, but major capitals on every inhabited continent, as if we were all part of a new Chinese world order.

Most of all, by adding their goon squad of "flame attendants" with no apparent diplomatic status into the scene--hovering retentively, manhandling Londoners, and barking orders at the torchbearers--

Beijing has made it abundantly clear that this is not about the
Olympic spirit, but about power, Chinese power.

Like this comment
Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2008 at 1:58 pm

I think there is a strong case for boycotting the opening ceremony as France, Germany et alia are doing.

It would not be fair to punish the athletes by a total boycott.

I was not aware of the plight of the Falun Gong, thanks for the heads up
on the matter

Like this comment
Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2008 at 3:48 pm

"Perhaps, then, pretense should be eliminated. The Olympic Games should simply acknowledge that they reflect wars fought by other means. Not a pleasant thought, but perhaps closer to the truth than the perspective of Avery Brundage, the fifth president of the International Olympic Committee, who just after the 1936 Berlin games said they proved that the Olympics are “the most effective influence towards international peace and harmony yet devised.”

Avery Brundage was closer to the truth, IMO, than this NY Times hit piece.

The modern Olympics are only a little over a centruy old. They have growing pains. I say, "Let them grow". Others seem to think that they are a convenient forum for protest.

I have watched many Olympic Games on televsion and news reels. They are a good thing. The world is much more interested in who wins the 100m sprint, than who claims national or political superiority.

Let's just enjoy the athletes for a couple of weeks. Besides, Jesse Owens was the near-perfect symbolic antidote to Hitler.

China will still be up to the same thing, either way, but the Olympics should not become a sacrificial lamb.

Like this comment
Posted by paul
a resident of Ohlone School
on Apr 16, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Personally, I am looking forward to China totally blowing all of its authoritarian gaskets during the Olympics, when you just know there will be street protests both here and there, winning athletes demanding freedom of speech and giving power salutes, and lots of tourists trying to escape from their communist minders to see what's behind the Chinese version of a Potemkin village.

Undoubtedly the Chinese will threaten the whole world with economic retaliation and will demand apologies from everyone, but really -- we're *so* busy dealing with Arab oil prices and apologizing to Muslims on an hourly basis, how will we ever find the time to apologize sufficiently to the touchy Chineses, too?

BTW, I was shocked during the torch run in SF that so many pro-Chinese wannabe-Americans turned out to support China. That sort of freedom of expression needs to come to a screeching halt RIGHT NOW, or we won't love them any more. see Web Link

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