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Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Olympics: Freedom Adrift

Jeffrey Lord
The force behind Bond, Potter, the Beatles; Of murdered Israeli athletes and the banned Greek.

It was so obvious it was completely taken for granted.

The Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics was a spectacular celebration of human freedom. A concept that in fact began to take root with a piece of parchment signed in 1215 and known as the Magna Carta, or the Great Charter of the Liberties of England.

Yet there wasn't a peep about what we were really seeing in London the other night.

All of which shows precisely the very real dangers that freedom faces around the globe -- not to mention right here at home in America.

As television and computer screens filled with spectacular images of James Bond, Mary Poppins, Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort and the ageless Beatle Sir Paul, viewers were enthralled.

And yet… and yet… how did all these people real (the Beatles) and imagined come to be?

They came to be, of course, because a free country provided Ian Fleming, P.L. Travers, J.K. Rowling, and John, Paul, George, and Ringo the complete freedom to conjure and amaze audiences with their respective literary and musical creations.

This decision not to formally recognize the vital importance of freedom -- and one must ask whether it was even a conscious decision as much as it was a simple taking for granted of a fact of life for Brits -- was mirrored exactly in the decidedly conscious decision by IOC President Jacques Rogge. That decision? Not to have a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes slaughtered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Instead, in what the New York Post called a "watered-down tribute," there was this generic included in the program: "In a moving moment, those who are absent from us are digitally present."

Can you imagine this? A group of terrorists -- decided enemies of freedom -- invaded the Olympics and committed mass murder, which is to say, killing Jews. And not a peep of specific recognition of this by the Olympic Committee whose very existence depends on the freedom of athletes to take their physical abilities to their limits -- just as was true of the literary and musical talents of Fleming, Travers, Rowling, and Beatle Paul.

Not to be outdone in the reluctance to say a word on behalf of freedom, out in these vacation-precincts comes news of the plight of Greek Olympian Voula Papachristou. After years of intense training and making the Greek team the 23-year old Papachristou made the mistake of tweeting a tasteless dopey joke about an outbreak of West Nile virus in Athens. The joke? "With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!" For this, the young athlete -- profuse apologies to no avail -- was expelled from her team days before the Opening Ceremonies. This treatment coming from the country generally credited as the birthplace of democracy.

Not to be too obvious here, but taken together none of this bodes well for freedom.

An inability to recognize freedom in the midst of celebrating some of the most famous achievements in the recent history of artistic freedom, a decided unwillingness to specifically address the most heinous act of opposition to freedom in modern Olympic history -- plus a fascist-like political correctness that costs a young woman her Olympic moment -- all act as storm warnings. These are caution signals if not flashing red lights.

Freedom is, of course, tied inextricably to the success of capitalism. It is capitalism that made welfare mother Rowling richer than the Queen. It is capitalism that made the four lads from Liverpool rich beyond their dreams. And it is capitalism that, in the recent words of Charles Murray in the Wall Street Journal:

… is the best thing that has ever happened to the material condition of the human race. From the dawn of history until the 18th century, every society in the world was impoverished, with only the thinnest film of wealth on top. Then came capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. Everywhere that capitalism subsequently took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fail. Everywhere that capitalism didn't take hold, people remained impoverished. Everywhere that capitalism has been rejected since then, poverty has increased.

Capitalism has lifted the world out of poverty because it gives people a chance to get rich by creating value and reaping the rewards.

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