Is it just me, or do the NBC announcers sound a bit tense during these first few days of the Olympics, whenever they are talking about issues linked to human rights or even the environment? As young master Daniel noted the other day, religious issues have been part of these tension all along. President Bush went out of his way to spotlight religious liberty issues, but he was only scratching the surface.
If you don't believe me, check out this Washington Post advance report from late last week. Just look at the opening paragraphs and count the religious ghosts.
China's intense efforts to block any protest that would mar the Olympic Games were challenged ... by foreign activists equally bent on diverting attention to issues as varied as Tibetan independence, the crisis in Darfur and religious freedom.
Two American and two British protesters slipped through a smothering Olympic security net, climbed a pair of lampposts and unfurled banners demanding freedom for Tibet near the new stadium where the Beijing Games are to open. ... In Tiananmen Square, three American Christian activists spoke out against China's rights record and protested its population control policies.
The story focuses most of its attention on Tibet, which is understandable. That is the story that is close at hand, the one drawing the widest array of protests.
Just how tense is this issue at the moment? Check this out:
To prevent such protests inside their own borders, Chinese authorities recently threatened to take away one female activist's two babies as she tried to enter the country. A Tibetan woman surnamed Kemo was returning to China on July 18 after nearly two years in the United States, where she had had two children. She was stopped by a passport control officer, escorted to an interrogation room and asked whether she had ever participated in political protests.
"Yes, but a long time ago," Kemo said she replied, speaking on the condition that her first name not be used. Officers then showed her computer printouts of photos of her participating at various U.S. protests. "You are lying to us," an officer told her.
This is political, of course. But it is impossible to skip the religious content in the Tibet crisis. The same goes for Sudan and Darfur.
You know that some Christian activists are going to take stands during the games. Will we see this on television? What happens if the protesters are actual athletes? Another Washington Post report noted:
Sanya Richards envisions 91,000 fans at Beijing National Stadium and millions more on television watching her cross the finish line first in the 400 meters later this month. Immediately afterward, Richards said, she plans to kneel, say a quick prayer and then point skyward in spiritual appreciation. ...
Richards is among the athletes who openly display their faith on the playing field, and feel the two are inextricably linked. Whether through a prayer or symbolic gesture, they use competition as a pulpit, sharing their belief with thousands of spectators.
So here is my request. Has anyone seen a clear story that explains the restrictions under which American announcers are operating?