In American politics, any attempt to limit entitlements, particularly welfare, are met with claims of racism against black people. The truth is that there are more white people on welfare than blacks. That doesn’t stop the demagoguery. It does call into question the mindset of those demagogues. Poverty equals black in their mind, despite numbers. I bring this up because Voula Papachristou, a triple jumper from Greece, was denied the ability to showcase her athletic talents because she used the word “African” which is apparently racist. I am assuming that the demagogues at the Greek Olympic Committee assume that “African” means black and so they prevented her from participation. This will come as a huge surprise to the Arab world, the descendants of Boers, colonists, and so on. We can all infer her meaning and decide to parse the racism of her statement, but that’s all it is. On the surface, at worst she is continentalist.
Papachristou presented a ripe target for those poised for censorship. She is a member of the right wing Golden Dawn. Extreme, but legal, with eighteen members of parliament carrying seven percent of the electorate. By Greek law, she has done nothing wrong. Her life has been dedicated to the pefection of her sport. At age twenty-three, she has put in countless hours and made countless sacrifices in pursuit of her goal. It is unlikely that a political vetting or oath was part of her preparation. Yet here we are. Inferred content from her twitter account has derailed a lifetime of work.
The biggest problem I have is that I don’t think it should matter if she is a racist. What if she had written “With so many n****rs in Greece…”? Would she be a poorer triple jumper? For those that feel the Olympics is about more than sports and somehow represents man’s better angels, Hitler hosted the Olympics. As did Breshnev. Is that is too far back for you? The last Olympics was hosted by China; one of the greatest abuser of human rights in the world. In an atmosphere where the IOC doesn’t intervene when Iranians refuse to compete against Israelis – and let’s face it, if we were to ask most athletes from Middle Eastern countries to fill out a PC-we-love-everyone disclaimer before competing, the inclusion of America, Israel, and Syria or Lebanon would send half home – this suspension appears more ridiculous.
Bad ideas are self evident. A robust discourse should never be afraid of them. Air them. Make them known and let the world see the flaws. In 1936, Hitler boasted of the superiority of the master race. I’m sure there was quiet dissent, but most of the German athletes of the time would have agreed with der Furher. Jesse Owens put the lie to their theories. Had the current leaders of the Greek Olympic Committee been in a position to decide the German delegation would have stayed home. They could claim that Owens would never have beaten them and chest beating ad nauseum.
The participation test has hit home as well. Believe what you want about gay marraige, but every citizen has to recoil in horror as Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee told Chic-fil-A, whose CEO publicly came out against gay marriage, that they cannot operate within the city limits of their… fifedoms? Who the hell do these mayors think they are? Since when did businesses have to fill out oaths of fealty to the political platforms of mayors? Can anyone who understands what they have said vote for them again?
In the triple jump, Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan won the gold with an astonishing 14.98 meters. Caterine Ibargueen of Columbia took silver with a total of 14.80 meters. Bronze was won by Ukrainian Olha Saladuha with a combined 14.79. The next best total was 14.56. Would Voula Papachristou have been competitive? Her lifetime best is 14.72. That’s enough to wonder. If some pinhead at the GOC not decided that the Olympics is more about ideology than physical ability, we would not have to question who is the best in the world. Neither would the medal winners.