Tibet 1, torch 0
They're calling them "violent" protests, but it seems any protest against the Beijing Olympics is considered violent these days. No consumer-driven economy wants to anger the Chinese, but ordinary people aren't afraid to.
Yesterday in Paris, the Olympic torch was put out -- and put on a safe bus -- after protests followed it throughout the City of Light.
The torch was set to arrive in San Francisco today for tomorrow's relay. It may be canceled.
Friends of Tibet in San Francisco, using rock-climbing cables and at a considerable personal risk, scaled the Golden Gate Bridge to hang banners reading, "One World, One Dream. Free Tibet" and "Free Tibet 08." Commuters yesterday could watch the drama -- and the banners -- unfurl as they drove along the bridge.
The Olympic Committee is not amused. They may cancel the torch run in San Francisco, and everywhere, altogether.
The Olympics, which I've held so dear, appear to me now as more of a conservative money maker without decency or morals. I wonder how it felt to the Jewish and ordinary people to see the world go ahead with the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. Business as usual. Sorry about the fascist brutality. Carry on.
Then again, yesterday as I pondered the awesome sight of those climbers on the bridge, a glint of hope came and I remembered how, one day in 1989, communist rule ... just ... ended. Poof. Over.
People in East Germany drove their Trebbies (small cars) to embassies, left them there, and discovered they were free to leave the country. In what seems like no time at all, the "wall" came down, communism ended, the Cold War, too.
In China today, there is a lot of new wealth. Young people have a better idea of the world beyond their borders. The Internet, even curtailed, has provided a door to ideas.
Could it happen, that tight-fisted rule in China, like that of the old regimes in Eastern Europe, could end?
AP photo by Paul Sakuma