By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
On the 8th Month, the 8th day, at 8 PM and 8 minutes, 8 seconds, All China and much of the world marked the start of the pre-Olympic Year.
Eight is lucky, so the Chinese say.
But China may yet need to line up more “Lucky Eights” and other forms of magic to make it though this next year before that Olympic cauldron is lighted at the “Bird’s Nest.” That’s the nickname all of Beijing has given to a massive steel beam stadium that will host many Beijing Olympics 2008 events, including the opening and closing ceremonies.
But the stadium’s designer is a former slave of China’s criminal “system” of human abuse. Mr. Ai Weiwei couldn’t be surpassed as an angry dissident by an invention of a Hollywood team of fiction writers.
Mr. Ai, a disheveled and portly genius, as a teen followed his Dad into the Chinese version of the Gulag. His Dad’s crime? Why he was a poet that wrote the wrong poems.
“I spent five years with him at a labor camp where he cleaned toilets, but these stories become so catchy today,” Mr. Ai shrugged.
Take it from someone who has spent considerable time with human rights abuse victims of the “systems” of communist China and communist Vietnam: those victims never want to make a movie, write a book or tell their stories. They want the past forgotten.
Mr. Ai has already told reporters he feels “disgusted” that the $400 million, “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium he helped design with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron has become a proud symbol of China’s development.
Mr. Ai says he will not attend any Olympic events, not even the grand opening ceremony in his stadium.”I would feel ashamed if I just designed something for glamour or to show some kind of fake image,” Mr. Ai said.
Mr. Ai says China has been unable to look itself in the mirror with honesty. A Chinese-American who accompanied me to a Civil War battlefield here in the United States said to me, “Of course there is nothing like this in China. We have no past. To rediscover the past would be to reawaken shame.”
Olympic stadium architect Mr. Ai asked, “Can you have the self-confidence to clearly examine yourself, rather than to give this kind of pretend smile on your face? It’s this kind of fake smile which is disgusting … So I hate this.”
You heard it here at Peace and Freedom: this is the “Fake Smile Olympics.” Love those shapely and slim Chinese Babes and all the dancing, pomp and circumstance: but you are still looking at the people who tolerated, even fostered the genocide of Darfur while the rest of the world urged sanctions. China not only deflected the demands for international sanctions, China’s President Hu Jintao went to Sudan earlier this year to make sure the flow of oil from Sudan to China was not interrupted by Sudan’s reprehensible misconduct in Darfur (or any meddlesome activity by the United Nations, European Union or anyone else).
The “Fake Smile Olympics” is still not as bad a nickname as some in Hollywood have already suggested we call Beijing ’08 because of Darfur: “The Genocide Games.”
When asked about what China was trying to hide, Mr. Ai said: “There are too many things. The whole political structure, the condition of civil rights … corruption, pollution, education, you name it.”
Mr. Ai should be an international analyst and writer here at Peace and Freedom. He seems to understand communism, China, and we are sure also Vietnam, pretty darned well. I’ll bet he’d choke at the NBC TODAY Show’s “happy face” Meredith Viera reports on pre-Olympic Beijing. Of course, NBC has millions of dollars of advertising money at risk in this Sino-Athletic and semi-political adventure, so you can’t expect any scrap of truth or reality from NBC over the course of the next year when it comes to China.
Then there is Steven Spielberg assisting the Chinese with their spectacular entertainment productions.
Steven? Have you lost your way?
When asked what on earth Steven was doing assisting arguably the worst human rights violating government on earth, his spokesperson, was, well, what my Asian-born bride would call “Chinese tricky.”
“Steven will make a determination in the next few weeks regarding his work with the Chinese,” his spokesman said.
Presumably after the first few blood-stained paychecks are cashed?
Mia Farrow, admirably, has already suggested that Mr. Spielberg has sided with the wrong team. In a Wall Street Journal commentary last March, Miss Farrow wrote, “Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games?”
Riefenstahl was the Nazi (read Adolph Hitler)-backed filmmaker who chronicled the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
“Our main interest is ending the genocide,” Andy Spahn, Spielberg’s front man told abcnews.com.
“No one is clear on the best way to do this.”
“Steven is one (of) many advisers to the Beijing Games and he is trying to use the games to engage the Chinese on this issue,” said Mr. Spahn.
He added that the two parties were engaged in “private dialogue” and that Spielberg expected to hear from the Chinese government “sometime soon, very soon”.
Steven: it doesn’t play well. It may not be clear to Mr. Spahn or to you. It is clear here at Peace and Freedom. Steven: phone home. Then get home. That’s our advice.
End Note(s): Freedom of speech has been denied or suppress for so long that Mr. Ai is a breath of fresh air. I think he has reached a place in his life where the “system” needs him more than he needs them. So he speaks out and can get away with it. Most people cannot. One outlet for those silenced in China is grafetti. I remember seeing lots of angry denunciations of the “system” on walls, buildings and posters. ESPN has recently brought back these memories for me.
Driving between Beijing and San Lou, one finds reminders of the “system:” the communist system.
“It’s not worth it,” one writes.
“The wrong people benefited,” says another. “Ten thousand people suffered.”
One would hope that NBC is strong enough to show Americans some of the reality of China. But that, we fear, may be a bridge too far.