Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Torch relay and Olympic ideals?

After three and a half days of touristing in Berlin I'm transitioning back into work mode for the conference that officially brought me here. It's been an interesting few days though, and educational too.

For example, while touring the DDR Museum, which deals with life in the former East Germany under the former communist regime, during a section about youth I learned that one of the collective activities used by the party to indoctrinate the young people into socialism was recycling. Apparently recycling is a communist plot! I'm surprised the Conservatives haven't picked up on this. Comrade Dion's tax on everything...maybe in the next round of commercials.

Another very interesting tour was of the Olympic Stadium, which was built by the Nazis for the 1936 Summer Olympics. Spent a fair bit of time there, the audio tour is very much worth the extra charge. One of the tidbits it imparted? That not only is the Olympic torch rally a modern invention, it was began by Nazi propagandists as a way to glorify the Nazi regime. And it was the target of anti-Nazi protesters, and needed police protection in some countries.

I found that ironic given the kerfuffle a little while back when protesters with various grievances against the Chinese government were disrupting the torch relay, and we heard that while they have legitimate grievances disrupting the Olympic flame and the ideals it embodies isn't the way to air those grievances.

What ideals exactly? Given that the rally was an invention of Josef Goebbels and Nazi propagandists, not any ideals worth preserving I think. Given the excesses of the Chinese government hosting these games, disrupt away, says I. Seems historically serendipitous.

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