First up, the Olympics. And New Zealand athletes have come out with some hard-hitting comments about the situation in Tibet. Here's rower Mahe Drysdale:
I'm focussing on my sport. The way I look at it, China is hosting a tournament ... I don't want to get into the politics of it. I don't necessarily agree with what China is doing but Americans are doing bad things as well. It's not what I'm about.""Americans are doing bad things as well ..." a thoughtful analysis of world events, I think you'll all agree. And here's sailor Dan Slater to show that New Zealand punches above its weight not just in the sporting arena but in the bar-room brawl of world opinion:
I'm going to compete, be an athlete. Whatever is going on politically is beyond my control. I've spent a long time getting to this point. Me saying my two cents worth won't solve anything. What are we going to do? We're four million people down here. China's a huge nation, they own half the world. We rely on China for all the trade that goes on. You've got to be careful about what you say and do. I don't think we're big enough to make a stance.Quite right. And in 1492, the Chinese built a fleet of huge ships and discovered New Zealand. They are that huge. Really. Who are we to complain about what they do in some other country that they invaded and colonised?
But then, should we be so indignant about what China is doing? They have done some bad things in Tibet but the Tibetans are not playing cricket here. They are attacking other citizens of Lhasa. What should the Chinese authorities do when members of one part of the population are attacking the others?
And what should the left do? The organising, protesting left, that is. Should they care about Tibet? No, of course not; all that matters is the bad things that Americans do. Its all about Iraq and Palestine, Cuba and Venezuela. ¡Scorchio!
But then again, politics is game of at least two halves, possibly three or more. Who are we to tell sportspeople they should not be doing their sport because we have a problem with the country they are doing it in? Perhaps it is up to the readers at home to choose not to watch the Olympics and opt instead for a slim volume of poetry or some atonal music. Perhaps we should also stop buying all that cheap crap China produces and buy more expensive stuff made at home, if we can find it.
So there we have it. Funny old game innit?