Sunday, August 17, 2008

Europeans and the Olympics: a few thoughts

Victor Davis Hanson at Pajamas Media today with my comments below the star line.

Davis begins - - -

Obama, like Socrates, announced in Berlin that he was a citizen of the world. We see many such citizens at the Olympics, but I am not sure I would wish to be counted among them.

There were the Chinese hosts, staging a Triumph of Will-like opening ceremony with Red Army soldiers, and computer-enhanced, Cecil B. DeMille backdrops. Tiny girls, some apparently with their baby teeth, were passed off as 15-year olds in the gymnastic competitions. A Newsweek or Time was not about to do an expose such a gargantuan Olympian fraud—not when journalists were muzzled or deported.

The utopian Europeans were, well, Europeans, eager to point out the pimple on the American nose, blind to the wart on their own. So the Spanish posed in group portraits with fingers pulling at their eyes, mimicking the Asian look of their Chinese hosts—just the sort of racism that they usually allege boorish Americans engage in.

Fast forward to beach volleyball. The Swiss duo, defeated by the Americans, were classic poor sports—Jan Schnider alternately whining, pouting, and bragging in the worst sort of showmanship. The French swimmers boasted, in empty fashion, of the defeat to come of the Phelps and the Americans. And so on. If we sometimes imagine that collective European utopianism and sermonizing are psychological recompense for rather self-indulgent, self-absorbed private lives, no better window exists on that than at the Olympics.



I’m going to focus on what Hanson says about Europeans because I know them much better than I do the Chinese.

I’ll start with what many of you are already thinking: Hanson’s over-generalizing about Europeans.

They’re a very diverse lot just as Americans are: the mature, the gracious, the brave, the silly, the selfish – you’ll find them on both sides of the pond.

Yes, some European athletes have behaved in boorish and petulant ways, but most have conducted themselves as they should.

I wouldn’t paint the French or Swiss teams with a broad brush that ought to strip only a few of their members.

What about the Spanish basketball team’s posing for a group photo pulling at their eye folds to create a slant-eyed look?

Crude! They deserve public ridicule.

But based on a few calls I’ve made to journalists at European papers and searching some Europe-based English and French language blogs, that’s not happening.

You know there’d be uproar in Europe if an American team did that. What’s more, they’d be an uproar here, too.

Final thought: I’m delighted to see the Brits doing so well.


Anonymous said...

Ask me if I really give a rodent's backside what any European thinks of America.
Tarheel Hawkeye