Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beijing Olypics: Entertaining and Guilt-Ridden

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 2:48 PM

By ERIC BARTON

chinese_police.jpg

I've been one of those people fairly hooked on the Beijing Olympics. Take last night's heartbreaking final in the women's 100-meter hurdles, when American LoLo Jones blew an early lead by tripping on one of the last hurdles. Or how about Nastia Liukin scoring high enough to get the gold but then ending up with a silver medal because of some obscure tiebreaker rule? You couldn't script better sports drama.

But the more I hear about the regime in China and the more the news comes out about crackdowns on protesters, watching the Olympics is starting to feel like shopping at Wal-Mart. Or drinking from disposable water bottles. Or putting Huggies on your baby. There's something dirty, something guilt-inducing about watching the Beijing games.

This struck home last week when local members of the Falun Gong movement held a press conference in Overland Park to protest the reported 8,000 members of their group to be rounded up by Chinese cops.

At the press conference was Jin Pang, a student at Missouri State University. Pang says her parents were kidnapped by Chinese authorities on July 9. The only reason she can figure is that they're Falun Gong practitioners.

pang_and_her_parents.jpg


Pang and her parents.

Pang is in Los Angeles today. She held a press conference there yesterday in the hopes of getting more attention for her parents' cause. She didn't get much — the only article I could find on her California press conference was this piece from The Epoch Times.

Pang came to the United States last August to get her MBA from Missouri State. She figures she can't go back to China now, for fear she'd end up in a detention cell.

As for watching the Olympics, Pang says she's too concerned for friends and family to tune in. "When I tried to watch it, it hurt me actually," she told me by phone today. "There are a lot of people suffering because of the Olympics."

Tonight, Kerri Walsh and Misty May are in the finals for beach volleyball. But I'm starting to wonder if it's worth the guilt of watching an Olympics filmed in a place where people are persecuted for their religious beliefs, for badmouthing the regime or simply for writing a column like this. Perhaps those aren't games anybody should watch.

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