Saturday, August 09, 2008

Let's get our own house in order too.

As the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics gets under way, commentators have expressed consternation at the omission of key aspects of Britain's past from the history-themed spectacle. Other discordant voices include human rights activists condemning the awarding of the Olympic Games to a state that has given itself the power to lock up citizens for up to 6 weeks without charge, and forbids peacefully assembly within a kilometre radius of its parliament buildings.

The opening took place in London city centre amid a security crackdown involving thousands of armed police. Earlier in the week 4 protesters were detained under the Terrorism Act 2000 for unfurling a "Free the 6 counties" banner from the London Assembly buildings and a rucksack-wearing man from Ecuador was severely injured by a police marksman in an incident condemned by international human rights organisations and the campaign group Liberty as "heavy-handed and disproportionate".

One of the ceremony's themes was "A Shared History" which saw children from each of the United Kingdom's constituent parts paraded in regional costumes. A plethora of issue groups from Anti-Slavery campaigners to Irish nationalist parties complained at the event's "selective airbrushing" of the events in British history that the establishment wishes not to highlight, including the legacy of slavery and colonialism, and the British involvement in Ireland. Other problems plaguing the 2012 Games have included Amnesty International's complaint that awarding the Games to the UK contravened the Olympic Charter, citing complicity in the United States 'extraordinary rendition' programme and Britain's position as a leading world arms trader, trading weapons to countries with dubious human rights records such as Saudi Arabia.

All in all the ceremony was an impressive spectacle with some of the host nation's top sporting and entertainment stars sharing the spotlight with various sectors of the UK's diverse population. Some commentators cannot, however, ignore the thought that it is also a skilled exercise in propaganda, selling the UK image to an audience of 4bn while covering over cracks that often threaten to come to the surface.

While in no way implying similitude in human rights records between the UK and China, nor excusing the latter's abhorrent record, our smug broadcasters may want to consider a view things at home before letting their criticism colour their coverage of this year's Olympic Games.

6 comments:

Patrick Corrigan said...

Very good...

Anonymous said...

The Olympics are a sham as far as I am concerned - it is time to stop the gravy train

bill said...

Did the British government of the day find the people were distracted enough to remain in power (at the peoples expense of course)?

beano said...

Wow, I never realised that a majority of Tibetans actually wanted to remain part of China. That changes everything.

bill said...

The MAJORITY of "Tibetans" are now Chinese much like the majority of South Ossetians are now Russian. I believe it's called ethnic cleansing.

Anonymous said...

our own house in order?