Saturday, August 21, 2010


   The first Olympics I watched all the way through was the 1984 Los Angeles Games.  It was eagerly awaited for the expected high medal count for the Americans, and a match up between Mary Decker and not really British Zola Budd in the Women's 3000 Meters.   As we all know, everything went according to plan;  Mary Decker got to play the Ugly American, Zola Budd got booed for something other than being South African, and I got to look at Mary Lou Retton's perky smile on the box of Wheaties I had to buy because someone drew in fangs.

  Budd's big problem is that she wanted to run, not get involved in a political situation she had no control over.  Anti-Apartheid activists were equally adamant she stand and denounce as a precondition.  She refused, and I think it was the right thing to do.  Don't get me wrong; if you have an event dedicated to sportsmanship and the equality of man on the game field, it's a bad show if one team shows up dedicated to exactly the opposite.  So the team, yes.  The individual, no.  I should make that clear, because...

  ...I think the solution to the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy is for those behind it to refuse to take any money from a country which refuses to allow religious freedom.  Denounce it, if you will.  The press should be asking where the money is coming from, then wondering if it's ethical to take it, and doing so until there is a clear answer.   (Kind of like how they should be peppering Mexican officials about Mexican immigration law...)   The elephant here is not religion, it's Saudi culture and their ability to steer the conversation their way.  Too bad there are few reporters as pig-headed as Zola Budd.

  P.S.- If you do think it's about religion and Americans being hateful and bigoted, let Zionists build a Jewish cultural center a stone's toss from the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, then lecture about tolerance and building bridges.

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