Friday, February 12, 2010

In which we all boycott the Olympics together.

Everyone I talked to in Chicago (well, almost everyone) during Daley's infamous, ill-fated Chicago 2016 bid recognized the Olympics were going to be bad for Chicago. Incurring huge amounts of public debt to displace poor people to make way for rich tourists who were going to be mostly confined to a small, tightly-controlled, corporate-dominated area just didn't sound like our vision of economic development.

But then the IOC chooses Rio instead, and we all breathe a sigh of relief, and go about our daily lives. It reminds me of that moment in Catch-22 when the Chaplain hears about a plane crash:
Twelve men killed -- how ghastly, how very, very awful! His feeling of terror grew. He prayed instinctively that Yossarian, Nately, Hungry Joe and his other friends would not be listed among the victims, then berated himself repentantly, for to pray for their safety was to pray for the death of other young men he did not even know.
The Olympics are a terrible phenomenon, no matter what city they're in. They're a giveaway of public funds to have a corporate event that uses amateur athletes to promote merchandise, that inevitably involves the displacement of poor people, the covering-up of visible poverty through police crackdowns on homeless people, and the degradation of the local environment.

Don't watch them. Even if you don't have a Nielsen box, and so your watching doesn't directly give financial support to them, you're still participating a culture that valorizes athletic spectacles even when they destroy communities.

For more on all of this, check out the Olympic Resistance Network, a direct action organization fighting the Winter Olympics.

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