09 August 2008

The Beijing Goose-Step

I really had no intention of watching the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic, but we had company and one of the guests wanted to see the propaganda festivities and so the TV went on.

The first thing I saw was a bunch of goose-stepping Chinese soldiers hoisting up the communist flag. It wasn’t bad enough that I had to watch the world pay respect to a symbol of oppression, torture and death, but they were goose-stepping! Goose-stepping. Bad guys goose-step. It’s the international equivalent of a black hat in an old western. The good guys never goose-step.

And then, the propaganda started. It was all about China and its historic struggle to achieve its destiny as a world power.

The main "theme" was Harmony. It’s China’s chief dictator, Hu’s, vision for society. Bob Costas who proved last night he would have no problems working for Cuba’s state owned television, (we already knew Matt Lauer has what it takes from his Today Show coverage in Havana), kept telling us about First Party Secretary Hu’s vision of a “harmonious society.” A “harmonious society” in totalitarian China, of course, means doing what you are told and asking no questions. Kindda like a Harmonious Classroom.

At one point, they had something like 2,000 synchronized drummers, dressed eerily similar to Cuban Pioneros de la Revolucion, pounding what sounded like a war march. One of the hosts mentioned that the drummers had been told to smile lest they intimidate the western audience. Smiling drumming red demons. To me it was like a vision of an Orwellian totalitarian hell with the masses working as one to achieve a common goal. Of course if anyone had acted as an individual and banged a different tune, disharmony would have resulted and the common goal not achieved. Take note. Apunten…(fuego).

In another incredible display of collective artistic accomplishment they had these box like things that moved around as if they were connected. It was cool. Ultimately it “spelled” the symbol “harmony”. Then people jumped out of the boxes, like strippers from a cake-or prisoners from a cell. They practiced 4 months, 8 hours a day, sometimes more, to get it right. This kind of spectacle will never be duplicated unless the Olympics are held in a place where they have an unlimited amount of people that can be forced to do this. Maybe they were forced to live in the boxes for 4 months. Who knows, it’s not like they have rights or they have laws in China to prevent these kinds of things.

We were told by NBC that China had opened its doors to the world in 1978, while they were retracing China’s historical progress, communist countries always have a historical progress, not historical events. That’s because they’re stuck on stupid, Marx, and believe in societal evolution, that is men, evolve, (are forced), to go from being individuals into communal citizens. Anyway, they totally skipped Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the history lesson. Or maybe NBC went to commercial….

At this point, Costas reminded us how much China had changed since then and how it had decided to allow individuals to seek their own futures…or something like that..(I’m looking for the quote). As I was screaming, I was asked by my life partner to either shut up or leave the room because I was “being political”. Truth is political, Chinese Communist propaganda piped into your living room in HD Peacock living color and read by in English by an American isn’t. Time for ANOTHER beer.

Sadly, I came back to witness the Olympic flag being carried and hoisted up by some more goose-stepping Red Army soldiers. I left on my own account this time. “Red Army” I kept saying…as I left to get yet another beer.

I sat to watch the lighting of the torch. Four years ago, in Athens, a guy that went to my High School, a Hiller, brought in the torch into the stadium. This time it was someone I share another bond with, communism. The lighting of the torch was like as always, spectacular.

And then, we all cheered our countries of origin. As usual, when I saw the Cuban flag,(or was it the Puerto Rican flag-there's always a momentary pause- Oh wait, it couldn't have been the Puerto Rican Flag, they practically cut PR out of the parade to go to commercial-bastards), well, I got that bittersweet feeling I get when I see a Cuban team at an international sports competition-wanting to root for the flag but not the regime. And I imagined the males on the Cuban team hitting on the French, Italian and Australian women and I cheered then on...


Anonymous said...

Yes. I thought it was terrifying to see the Chinese goose-stepping. To Americans the goose-step is a symbol of oppressive, human right abusing dictatorships. It was a grim reminder that many countries do not enjoy the freedom we enjoy in the US.

I've read a little about goose-stepping and have found that there are a few countries that incorporate it into their military pageantry. I've also read that it came from Prussia. I've also read that the Chinese were enemies of the Nazi party during world war 2. For all these reasons, many on the net argue that I should not find it offensive.

However, like the swastika(which has actually been used for thousands of years), goose stepping has become a symbol of evil. Just like I choose not to name my children Adolf or Satan, I would like countries not to use the swastika on their flags and would like them not to goose-step during military pageantry.

This generation of americans has been brought up to believe in respect for other people's cultures. I think that we should do that, as long as those cultures deserve our respect. Silently tolerating the use of symbols that are commonly used to represent evil is not something we should do.

The goose-step opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics was a slap in the face to the world. China will not respect our traditions, our culture, our sensitivities any more than it will respect the human rights of its own citizens. Ideally, the olympics would be solely about the games and the spirit of human brotherhood. However, from the begining they have served as a catalyst for discussion of politics and national policy. People who argue that we should ignore China's human rights abuses should consider that there are human beings suffering horribly over there right now, children being exploited and killed, adults being exploited and killed and Chinese protesters trying desperately to bring our attention to the corruption and oppression that they are suffering. Ignoring them is like walking through a concentration camp and admiring the beauty of the sun and getting angry at those who tell you to look around at what's happening to the people around you. While it is right to admire the beauty of the sun, there should be discussion and action to right wrongs that have no place in the world.

The Berlin games of 1936 was a truly spectacular olympic opening ceremony. The Germans walked in hailing Hitler there was inspirational music. It was crafted with the same flair for cinema that the nazi propaganda films would enjoy for the next 10 years. We can't watch footage of that opening ceremony without being facinated by the knowledge that all those people sitting in the stands would witness some of the most incredibly evil national programs the world has ever seen. Its amazing to think that a modern culture could embrace the ideals of the nazis and its scary as hell that it could happen again. When I watched the chinese soldiers goose-step around I felt similar to the way I feel when I watch footage of that 1936 Olympic opening, except I am more fearful, because I wonder if we had another World War or if there was a slow spread of oppression from China to countries around the world, would good still prevail.

Anonymous said...

I originally wrote this response to a yahoo question about whether or not anyone else found it offensive that the chinese goose stepped around during the opening ceremonies. I think there needs to be more discussion about it and am happy to see you helping it along. I'm posting this here in an effort to further bring people to your page so that they can read your thoughts.

Alfredo said...


too bad most people don't realize what's going on in China! Heck, most people think that the dictator in Cuba is a saint? Bob Costas had me to the point of vomiting with his foaming all over China and how China will win the medal count. mr. ''Pelo Tinto negro" costas choose appeasement so he can collect his millions.

Anonymous said...

I bet that all of you people who talk bad about China have never lived or even been. You all think you know so much about China. How can you all know sooo much about a place that you have no been too? but you only know the crap that the western media wants you to know... And you all have the balls to say the people in China are brainwashed. Look at yourselves...

Anonymous said...

Ok, if anyone would do the research, the Goose Step was invented by the Prussians in the early 19th century. THE Baron Von Steuben taught the Continental army everything on drill and discipline. Had the form been invented in the early 18th century, or the American Revolution occurred fifty years later, the US army would be goose stepping along with the rest of the "dictator" run countries. Just because the Nazis used this form of military step does not associate it with evil (Don't get me wrong, I hate the atrocities done by the Nazis).
Besides, I agree with the guy above me, it isn't just the Chinese Government spreading propaganda around. If anyone wishes to delve deep into the history of the Chinese, we all know the Nationalists wouldn't have done a damn thing about the Imperialistic Europeans and Americans during the time. For Americans, I would be highly surprised if they did not exploit the Chinese people had the Nationalists won the Civil War. Like father like son I suppose with "Manifest Destiny." Accuse me of listening to "propaganda" all you want but these are my beliefs and if I'm instilling retaliation, it would only prove hypocrisy in the Western ideology.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's kinda ridiculous that Westerners really don't know China.

it's sad, seeing as how brainwashed by the WEstern media you are about "China"... LOL.