Joe Brown, President of Pasadena NAACP, Via Pasadena Star-News, CA, U.S, 11 Oct 2007-
In spite of the “human and civil rights violations,” for the past year, I have wrestled with this matter of granting Communist China a platform for its political maneuver and propaganda. I cannot be outraged about the lead-coated toys and remain numb to Beijing’s propaganda float.
As it currently stands, on Jan. 1, 2008, a Beijing-authorized float is to be paraded down Colorado Boulevard in the internationally famous Rose Parade, glorifying the Chinese communist regime in the name of the Olympics to an estimated 400 million television audience.
It is against what I believe the founding principles of our nation are, what I stand for as president of the Pasadena NAACP and what I served my country for – as a U.S. Army sergeant.
Some have defended the Beijing float citing previous floats celebrating Olympic Games in Athens, Mexico City and Los Angeles in the Rose Parade. It has been said by one elected officials that he supported the Beijing Olympic float because of “values represented by this long-standing, global tradition of athletic competition. The Olympics Games represent the finest value of human nature.”
I believe by allowing this communist country a float in the Rose Parade,
Pasadena is also giving China an opportunity to exploit the Olympics for its politics. Some people may argue differently. Our Tournament of Roses president (Mr. Keedy) has stated that, “The Olympics is the issue, not the politics, that sports are merely sports and we should stay clear of other concerns.”
In my opinion, the float and Beijing games, however, represent just the opposite of humanity, and is only comparable to the 1936 Nazi Olympics in Berlin. The Beijing Olympics owns the conspicuous mark of being the only Olympics given to a host country based on a promise of improving human rights conditions. Since that promise in 2001, I have yet to read, hear about or see the human rights condition in China improved.
A Rose Parade float cynically used as a propaganda tool for the Republic of China would become a float of shame that would forever taint not only the image of the Rose Parade but the image of the city of Pasadena as well.
Some have embellished the float as a cultural exchange. Alan Lamson, chair of the China Subcommittee of the Pasadena Sister Cities Committee, has said, “Our position is that it’s much better to get to know someone, even if you disagree with them.”
Elected Pasadena and TofR officials, are we simply following the money and forgetting how this will gravely weaken our moral stand and principles? I hope this doesn’t allow us to sell our principles, just to receive another cheap product, lead-coated toys and toxic food.
Many continue to inform me that the U.S. is not perfect when it comes to human and civil rights. This, I agree with. But there is a vast difference between imperfections in a democracy and deliberate crimes in a dictatorship. Others have tried to find a good thing or two to say about the Beijing Olympics. They have argued that the 1936 Olympics are best remembered for the heroics of Jesse Owens instead of Hitler’s exploitation of the Olympics. That is the same as finding a bright spot in the Holocaust in the heroics of Schindler. It is unconscionable to use the heroics of others to excuse our own inaction.
Some have also tried to justify their support of the Beijing float by citing their good intention toward China. Just remember, support to oppressors, in any form, is a cruelty to the victims.
For Pasadena’s honor, for the Olympic spirit, for the men and women who have served in this country and most importantly, for our own conscience, there is a choice: Re-visit our position on this communist country and its propaganda float. I thought (and many other veterans agree) I was serving my country to defend against this type of tyranny.
As late as the hour is, there can be no excuse to not act; it is time to add our voice to the international outcry. Many people have already taken actions. Congressional representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Maxine Waters have independently introduced resolutions calling for boycott of the Beijing Olympics. Mia Farrow’s letter opposing a “Genocide Olympics” has already slowed the Chinese regime’s aggression in Darfur. Steven Spielberg is reconsidering his role as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics. Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu is considering boycotting the Beijing Olympics over China’s support of Burmese despots.
The words of Dr. King still ring loudly in my ear, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
President, Pasadena NAACP
- Original report from pasadenastarnews.com : Don’t sell out principles