Monday, April 7, 2008

The Flame Fiasco

I've just seen the evening news footage of the Olympic flame's passage through Paris. Sarkozy knew how to keep the police in check and demonstrations in order when he was minister of the interior. I can't fathom why he would have allowed this event to get so far out of hand. To be sure, the police were handed an impossible task, but they should have been called off and the event canceled when the impossibility became clear. Why the Chinese organizers were allowed to have their own security forces--rather brutal, too, so far as one can judge by television at a distance--is another mystery, even if it was a Chinese group that organized the event.

That the messages of the protesters were confused is not the point. To challenge the very meaning of a symbol is often the purpose of a political demonstration, and despite Bernard Laporte's foolish repetition of the mantra "the Olympic flame is a symbol of peace" and "sports shouldn't be confused with politics," even he can't be naive enough to think that the Olympics are merely another sporting event. But perhaps it's time to face the fact: the Olympics have been destroyed by commercialization, mediatization, nationalization, and politicization. Athletes can find other auspices under which they can compete.

I hope the CRS who was filmed kicking a cameraman in the face is identified and dismissed. It's 40 years since May '68, but some things haven't changed.


Anonymous said...

"I hope the CRS who was filmed kicking a cameraman in the face is identified and dismissed."
Is that supposed to be humour?

MYOS said...

The two images that struck me most:
1) David Douillet, a heavyweight judoka who's a personal friend of Mrs. Chirac's, shocked and angry at Chinese police officers extinguishing the flame before his eyes.
Because he's not a leftist, not the habitual protester, and because he's got a lot of self control but couldn't help reacting as a reflex then later (obviously still shocked) making a statement to the press. It was also the scene that Jean Sarkozy chose as the most significant - in part, perhaps, because of the symbol: "Chinese police forces stop and extinguish the Olympic flame"
2) the bipartisan banner at the Assemblee - because up until now I didn't know the French could do bipartisanship. ;-)

Many people I talked to today seemed shocked that the Chinese Police Forces were allowed to give orders, including "mock-arresting" some French citizens. Someone asked me whether Americans would tolerate that - and I said, certainly not. Hope not, at least.

Anonymous said...

One thing that I couldn't understand was CRS confiscating Tibetan flags and pro-Tibet banners from protesters.

Orders from the top?


Unknown said...

Alliot-Marie explicit denies any such orders and has ordered an investigation.