Recently, it has become very fashionable to call for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
This is a very bad idea. A boycott would achieve nothing other than irritating China and depriving our gifted athletes of the opportunity to compete at the highest levels of their sport.
The idea that a bunch of Americans running around yelling “free Tibet” will have any impact on a totalitarian regime is laughable. China won’t care if we protest, and they know there is nothing America can actually do to free Tibet. We aren’t going to invade mainland China, owner of a very large ground army, if we can’t even win a war in Iraq.
So, a boycott would be entirely ceremonial, it would achieve no positive ends while angering the largest nation in the world.
While boycotting the Olympics serves no purpose, the cause has still attracted plenty of support. People often rally around distant causes such as boycotting China or saving Sudan as a means of turning their attention to distant unsolvable problems.
In case you haven’t noticed, America has a glaring number of human rights abuses herself. We need to make an attempt at fixing our own crimes before we can go smugly criticizing other countries.
None of this is to say that China is not guilty of great crimes; they are one of the worst offenders. However, their nation is trending in the right direction towards freedom and capitalism, while our own country is becoming increasingly unjust and vindictive.
For one quick example, we’ve killed tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghani and Iraqi bystanders while waging our modern-day crusades. The suspension of prisoner’s rights and their subsequent torture at Guantanamo Bay is also shockingly primitive.
We are also the world’s largest arms dealer. Far too frequently, both sides of a war are firing off American made and sold weapons. Yet, while I hear tons of clamoring about Sudan, nobody is trying to shut down Boeing, one of our own companies, which manufactures weapons of mass destruction.
We also have disastrous foreign policy. We sided with Saddam Hussein and Iraq in the Iraq-Iran War and then fought that same Hussein twice in the next two decades. We funded Bin Laden’s fighters in Afghanistan and then had them turn around and massacre our own people.
America also inexplicable funds and arms the ruthless Israeli regime who gleefully use our weapons to repeatedly invade Lebanon and destroy Palestinian refugee camps. The governments of Israel and Palestine are both corrupt beyond belief; taking sides in a war between two thugs is morally reprehensible.
Our problems are not just limited to foreign issues. We are the world’s prison house. We have 23 percent of the world’s prisoners while having only five percent of the world’s population. Americans are no worse citizens than the rest of the world – our government just gets a kick out of throwing the most petty of criminals into jail.
Especially bad is the skew of our prisoners. According to data taken from the 2000 census, over 60 percent of the nations inmates are black or Latino, while those two groups constitute only 25 percent of America’s population.
Please quit complaining about problems in faraway countries and focus on our own issues. Protesting against a totalitarian regime does nothing — they don’t listen.
Since we live in a mostly free nation, however, our protests again our warmongering military, demented foreign policy, and racist police and judges can make a difference. Don’t boycott China — instead protest against the injustices we perpetrate against people both at home and abroad.
Ian Bezek is a sophomore economics major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.