15 thoughts on “QED

  1. How many people are alive today who ‘allowed’ Nazi Germany to host the Olympics. The short answer is none, because it wasn’t Nazi Germany when the Olympics were awarded to Berlin.

    Or if we’re referring to today well I have news: The PRC does not equal Nazi Germany. That doesn’t mean it isn’t bad to the Tibetans or other groups or that it doesn’t have business and diplomatic associations with today’s nearest equivalent to Nazi Gernmany (North Korea, Sudan). But don’t blame Kim Il Jung on the Chinese – I’m sure they would prefer a saner regime next door.

    Will China develop into something akin to what Nazi Germany did? I think not; the historical parallel I draw is with Kaiserine Germany. Bad enough, but Kaiserine Germany was not nearly bad enough to be treated as a pariah, and neither is China.

  2. You’re completely misreading this, the point they’re making is

    ‘Would (today’s society) have allowed the Olympics to be staged in Nazi Germany’

    They’ve not helped themselves with an ambiguous ‘we’ but their point is perfectly clear. I dislike the moral equivalence incidentally, as the commenter points out modern China doesn’t = Hitler exactly, but they pretty clearly know what happened in Berlin in 1936.

  3. “‘Would (today’s society) have allowed the Olympics to be staged in Nazi Germany'”

    Unambiguously yes. But not in New York.

    The people who take these decisions (good Europeans, most of them) have a positive talent for overlooking the truly evil while identifying the US as the Fourth Reich. Or the attitudes of public opnion in their societies tend to to see the world this way, and the attitude leaks over to the IOC membership.

    Let’s not forget the lead time also. As I pointed out Nazi Germany wasn’t awarded the Olympics; it inherited it. And one could argue that it wasn’t remotely clear how evil Nazi Germany in 1936. Most reasonable people thought it was largely rhetoric. The only dodgy action Hitler had taken by 1936 was the re-occupation of the Rhineland – hardly an act of supernal evil in itself. The Anschluss, the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, the Holocaust, and WWII were all in the future. So how could they have known in 1936 what they were doing. The Berlin Olympics are an unspeakable symbol to us now – but hindsight is always 20-20. T’wasn’t clear at the time.

    But I argue that comparing China today with 1936 Germany is nonsense. Among the many differences one sticks out like a sore thumb – China has no cult of personality. It is a stable and corrupt oligarchy and sometimes a repressive and unenlightened one. But everything we know today tells us it’s unlikely to go off the rails and kill masses of people in the near future. Kaiserine Germany circa 1900.

    Let’s not forget the moral quality of past hosts of the Games. The Paris Games of 1900 were held by a country oppressing millions of colonial Africans. The St Louis Games of 1904 were held in a country fighting a dirty colonial war in the Phillipines. The London Games of 1908 were held by a country with a large and fractious empire who had recently crushed the hell out of the Boers of South Africa, and the Antwerp Games of 1920 were hosted by a country described as a ‘whitened sepulchre’ by Joeseph Conrad because of the way they ran the Congo.

    Is China worse than any of these? I think not.

    One can argue that the Olympics should not have been awarded to China – I did so at the time as I recall. But there were good arguments for the award as well.

  4. And one could argue that it wasn’t remotely clear how evil Nazi Germany in 1936. Most reasonable people thought it was largely rhetoric. The only dodgy action Hitler had taken by 1936 was the re-occupation of the Rhineland – hardly an act of supernal evil in itself.

    Oh, and then there were these other little things – the concentration camps, the boycott of Jewish businesses, the book burnings, the Nuremberg laws, the rearmament, the introduction of general conscription, etc. etc. … harmless, largely rhetoric stuff all around. No reason to boycott a nice sporting event such as the Olympic Games, right?

    There were, of course, people who thought otherwise, especially among German emigrants and in America. They couldn’t convince the majority. But let’s not pretend nobody had a clue what was going on in Germany.

    But everything we know today tells us it’s unlikely to go off the rails and kill masses of people in the near future.

    You would make such predictions more convincing if you didn’t precede them by the announcement that everything we knew in 1936 told us the Berlin Olympics were a-ok.

    Kaiserine Germany circa 1900.

    LOLOL. Kaiserwhat? Is that even a word?

  5. “other little things – the concentration camps, the boycott of Jewish businesses, the book burnings, the Nuremberg laws, the rearmament, the introduction of general conscription, etc. etc. … harmless, largely rhetoric stuff all around.”

    What concentration camps? In 1936, I mean? The rearmament and general conscription were considered a normal right of a sovereign state except for Germany because of the Versailles Treaty. Boycotts and burnings were officially unofficial – most people outside Germany weren’t paying enough attention for this to register.

    What I’m trying tio remind everyone of is the fact that 1936 predated the world’s awareness of what was going on. What was GOING to happen was quite literally unthinkable in Europe of the 30’s.

    I’m not defending what was happening in 1936, I’m reminding us moralising types that our grandparents and great-grandparents had much less information on what Nazi Germany was and would become than we do! I’m also reminding people of the moral context of other Olympic host countries of the era.

    Consider Belgium, the host country in 1920. Tiny, inoffensive Belgium. The people of the Congo would have had quite another view of things; Think of Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’! That was available then. And it was STILL GOING ON in 1920! Or in 1936 for that matter! Nobody in the Olympic movement gave a curse about it by the evidence of our eyes.

    Boycotts, book burnings, and racial laws seem pretty small beer compared to the ongoing rape of a huge portion of Africa being perpetrated by the Belgians then, don’t they? Think about it.

    “everything we knew in 1936 told us the Berlin Olympics were a-ok.”

    Straw man, I didn’t assert that. Everything wasn’t a-ok in Paris in 1900, the US in 1904, London in 1908, or Antwerp in 1920, either. Stockholm in 1912 was pretty blameless – except for eugenics laws perhaps.

    No, what people didn’t know was that Nazi Germany was about to go off the rails, start WWII, and murder millions of jews and other ‘racial undesireables’. At the time it was still possible to believe that Germany was no worse (and perhaps better) morally to other recent hosts of the Olympic Games. Paris was in the throes of L’Affaire Dreyfus when they hosted the 1900 games, and anti-semitism was a pan-european political movement. The US wasn’t immune – read ‘The Great Gatsby’ for a fine example. It’s only obvious in hindsight that Nazi Germany would go far beyond the common anti-semitism – and commit genocide on entire nations of peoples?!

    They were wrong, that’s obvious. But I might have made the same error had I lived then. I daresay you also.

    We are not better people than our forebears merely because we POSSESS MORE INFORMATION!

  6. That sign hit one of my nerve endings I fear – the endless propensity of certain people to relate any evil that any country perpetrates to the Third Reich. It just ain’t so. History is frequently unique or the next thing to, and if one doesn’t respect that uniqueness one can’t appreciate and learn from history!

    Another thing is that the Third Reich doesn’t hold a monopoly on evil or even extreme evil. Not even in relatively modern times. In terms of loss of life Stalin’s purge of the Kulaks, the Great Leap Forward, and the Tai-Ping rebellion rival or even surpass the bloodletting. In percentage terms what the War of the Triple Alliance did to Paraguay (estimates up to 90% of the population killed) exceed WWII. And let’s not forget what Ghengis Khan did to Central Asia. He found a thriving, rich, populous, and civilised country and left – pasture for his horses. And that has been an enduring change.

    So I’m not arguing that great evil can’t or won’t happen again; just that it’s unlikely to repeat Nazi Germany. When people routinely equate every evil with Nazi Germany – well the argument loses it’s force.

    I argue that China is not fundamentally evil. It commits evil at times, but it’s not evil. My country has been unjustly demonised and now I see people starting to do the same to China – and it disturbs me because it does not help anyone in solving the problems of today to demonise the non-demonic.

  7. “Kaiserine Germany circa 1900. LOLOL. Kaiserwhat? Is that even a word?”

    Maybe what he meant was “Kaiserreich Germany”?

  8. Kaiserine Germany is historical phraseology in the US, where 1870-1914 Germany is a popular subject for books. I took a class at University about Germany between 1848 and 1914, and it has remained a favorite subject since then. Almost up there with Classical history.

  9. Kaiserine Germany is historical phraseology in the US, where 1870-1914 Germany is a popular subject for books. I took a class at University about Germany between 1848 and 1914, and it has remained a favorite subject since then. Almost up there with Classical history.

  10. > But everything we know today tells us it’s unlikely to go off the rails and kill masses of people in the near future.
    Don, one reason why the Chinese government is tense about Tibet is Xinjiang, where they fear the Uyghurs might demand the same as do the monks. Incidentally, that’s what the Uyghurs do. There are more unhappy minorities and some hundred millions peasants not profiting much from China’s booming economy as of yet, but suffering from it’s ecological consequences and rising prices for food. We might yet be in for interesting times.

    > Kaiserine
    Whatever it means, I find it charming. I pronounce it like Mandarine and wish we had had one, *instead* of Willy II.

  11. “because it does not help anyone in solving the problems of today to demonise the non-demonic.”

    glad to read that from you, I had the feeling that we always rise the wrong agendas

  12. @Sebastian
    The concentration camps before the war are, I think, not fundamentally different from where the Chinese government imprisons their dissidents today …

  13. That is a extreme comparison. I wonder sometimes how productive these protests are.
    —–
    PING:
    TITLE: Protest Against Olympics in China
    URL: http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1063-Protest-Against-Olympics-in-China.html
    IP: 80.67.17.206
    BLOG NAME: Atlantic Review
    DATE: 04/24/2008 10:49:04 PM
    This is my favorite quote of the year so far: Would we have allowed Nazi Germany to host the Olympics?
    This awesome statement was found on a protest sign in San Francisco. German Joys and Andrew Sullivan have a picture.
    This statement is f

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