Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Olympic Observation






On 5 September 1972, I was working in the Men's Shoe Department of a major department store.  I had been employed there on a part-time basis for about a month, and would resign the position in a few weeks for something ever so slightly more remunerative.  I was a college student then, and had no designs about making a lifetime career there.  Aside from the low salary and dearth of available work hours, it really was not a bad situation, inasmuch as the work was not too difficult (albeit monotonous at times), and I enjoyed the personal interactions with my co-workers, including Mr. Siegbert, my supervisor.

 [This was 1972, when the technology was not what it is today, and when my usual updates on world events occured (A) when I read the morning newspaper; (B) when I read the evening newspaper; and (C) if I heard it on the radio (which was relatively rare, inasmuch as the radio in the old clunker car I drove at the time was nonfunctional).].

That afternoon, when I arrived at my workplace after finishing my classes, Mr. Siegbert said to me, "That's terrible, what happened in Munich.  Do you think that they will cancel the Games?"

Until that time, I had not gotten word of the Muslim terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympics, an event known infamously as the Munich Massacre.  But when Mr. Siegbert asked me the question, I immediately knew, without being told, that something dreadful had befallen the Israeli Olympic team.  (A year later, I would have occasion to visit Munich, and I paid my respects to the memorial outside the building at 31 Connollystraße in the Olympic Village where the Israelis lived).

Avery Brundage, the Chairman of the International Olympic Committee, stood up to the considerable public pressure to cancel what remained of the competitions.  But he was carrying plenty of baggage from his past, and in picking up that baggage had jettisoned his moral standing to properly act.

To say the least, Brundage was never a friend of the Jewish people.  Though nothing has been proven beyond a doubt in the sense of a criminal prosecution, the pulling of Jewish American runners Sam Stoller and Marty Glickman from the competition had Brundage's fingerprints on it, and in any event would not have occurred had Brundage truly opposed it, being that he was, at the time, the Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee.  And at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Brundage took stances which were, at best, insensitive to the African-American athletes.

Following the Munich Massacre, Avery Brundage determined that the Games must go on.  That would be one of the few correct things Brundage ever did, inasmuch as it deprived the terrorists of a victory; but, in light of his past, Brundage's motives remain suspect.

With that as a background, I note an undertone of growing concern for the security of the upcoming Sochi Olympics, in light of the Volgograd suicide bombings.  Some people deign to privately asking themselves muted questions as to whether the U.S. Olympic Team should send any competitors at all (I do not wish to jack up the hit count meters on the websites involved, so there are no linkages to them in this posting).

Maybe I am paranoid, but I cannot help but wonder whether there is a double standard at play here.  When athletes' lives and safety are threatened by terrorists, then we need to protect them, even if it means mulling the possibility of not sending them to the Olympics.  But when the athletes who are being killed are Jewish, then "the Games must go on!"

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