At the Beijing Olympics, It’s 1936 All Over Again

To Rafael Medoff, the winter games that opened in Beijing on Friday are strongly reminiscent of their 1936 precursors, which took place in Nazi Berlin. He writes:

Countries that host the Olympic Games derive an array of financial benefits, from tourism dollars to corporate sponsorships. Regimes that are perpetrating human-rights violations enjoy an even more important benefit: an opportunity to gain international legitimacy and whitewash their abuses. For Adolf Hitler in 1936, The games were a chance to make the Nazi regime seem reasonable and distract from his oppression of German Jews. For the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the Olympics represent an opportunity to turn the world’s attention away from what the United States government and human-rights groups have said is his genocidal persecution of China’s largely Muslim Uighur minority.

Then and now, the international community has largely gone along with the deadly charade. . . . China invited the skier Dinigeer Yilamujiang, an ethnic Uighur who will be competing in the games, to take part in the torch-lighting ceremony. . . . Hitler did something very similar. During the months preceding the Berlin games, critics pointed out that Jewish athletes were being systematically excluded from the German team. The Nazi leader sought to deflect the critics by signing up a token fencer who had a Jewish father, Helene Mayer.

Mayer later explained that she gave the Nazi salute from the Olympics podium because her family members were still in Germany, some of them in concentration camps. One can imagine that Yilamujiang may well be laboring under similar pressures. . . .

Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt was taken by the spectacle. He told Rabbi Stephen S. Wise how impressed he was to learn from two tourists who attended the games “that the synagogues are crowded and apparently there is nothing very wrong in the situation [of Germany’s Jews] at present.”

Read more at Forward

More about: 1936 Olympics, China, olympics, Uighurs

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus