Saturday, May 31, 2008
别了，钱澄海教练 Goodbye, Coach Qian - A Sonata to a Good Man
如果你看过“窃听风暴”，你就知道即使在极端的专制暴虐之下人的良知也不会全部泯灭。 我在中国的幸存与成功也有这些良知尚存的人们的保护的因素。 钱澄海教练就是那些良知尚存的人们之一。 --- 陈凯
If you have seen the movie "The Lives of Others", you will know that even under extreme tyranny and repression, human conscience will survive in one way or another. It will spark somehow in a most unexpected place and in a most unexpected time. My story of survival and success in China had certainly had such an element. Coach Qian was one of those with conscience who in his way protected me from total destruction by the evil regime. --- Kai Chen
I only learned that my former National Basketball Team Head Coach Qian Chenghai passed away on April 24, 2008, when a friend called me from China.
I had known Coach Qian for a long time. I stayed in the National Team both in 1971 when Coach Qian was an assistant coach and in 1978 when Coach Qian was the head coach of the National Basketball Team.
I had known that Coach Qian was battling bone cancer for some years, though I had not seen him for many years. Before almost every time he came to the States, he would come and stay in my house. He was the Head Coach for China in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and my wife Susan was the interpreter for the Chinese National Basketball Team.
I write this piece as a eulogy to Coach Qian, not because he was my coach, but because he was a good man with conscience.
In 1971 when I was put into solitary confinement for my crime of escaping to Guangzhou from the National Team without the Party Organization's permission, I was in total isolation, writing my confession under supervision and surveillance. No one wanted to talk to me or had anything to do with me as if I had some deadly contagious disease. No one showed any sympathy toward me, a 17 years old kid whose only crime was having Taiwan relatives, and because of that I was expelled from the National Team Program. But one day I had a very unexpected visit from Coach Qian. He came to me and consoled me with soothing words: "I come to tell you that you will be OK. They will not destroy you entirely. Some people have similar cases. Don't worry too much."
Just a few words to inform and to sooth is enough for me to remember him forever. He did not have to come to do that. But he did it out of kindness and conscience. Later on I learned that Coach Qian also had relatives in Taiwan. His sister's husband was even serving in the same KMT's air force with my uncle. Maybe that was the reason why he showed sympathy toward me. But nonetheless, I will always be grateful toward him for that single act of kindness out of conscience and good heart.
I had called him once, having learned that he had cancer. But he maintained a great positive outlook on life. That was probably the reason why he had survived for seven years having had many operations. He lost two legs and part of his lungs.
As I peruse through the official eulogy in China today for Coach Qian, my stomach turns. The state is still using him to rally the crowd for China-loving. The official press has listed many of Coach Qian's former titles, positions, party membership, and other achievements. But as for me, the most defining moment of Coach Qian's character came in that dark afternoon in 1971, in a most depressive era, under the most oppressive circumstances. Just a few kind words. Just a soothing gesture.
Goodbye, my coach. I will always remember you, not for some glamour or glory in the official books, but for that single shining moment - a spark in the total darkness. In that moment, I learned what goodness is.
Always yours. Kai Chen 陈凯
冲出族群的池塘，迈向自由的海洋 A Free Being First, A Chinese Last
你并不首先是个中国人。 你首先是个人。 更重要的是你首先是一个自由人。 你并不是任何族群的财产与产物。 你是一个独特的上苍的造物。 --- 陈凯
You are never first a Chinese. You are first a human being. More importantly, you are first a Free Being with Dignity. You are never a product or a property of any racial or ethnic group. You are always a unique existence by God. --- Kai Chen
My daughters Alex and Dom have just graduated from college and high school. Alex from Yale and Dom from Marlborough School in LA.
I am immensely proud of what they have accomplished with their lives. Alex will go into Peace Corps and she wants to go to Africa to serve for two years. My wife and I will visit her in Africa at some point. Dom will go to Brandeis University in Boston which was first established by Albert Einstein.
As I pondered upon what my daughters will face and venture in life, I realize how important it is for a parent to recognize the unique value each child has as an individual. The meaning of their existence is never up to the parent or any other person. It is up to themselves and God. We, as human beings, are never products or properties of any outside entity, be they family, nation, race, ethnic group, etc. We, as unique individuals each with a unique meaning by God, can only set out on our journey to find that unique meaning ourselves, and to fulfill it.
In Marlborough School graduation commencement, former U.S. Secretary of State, General Colin Powell made a great speech about how he has found the meaning of his life and fulfilled that meaning with diligence and tenacity. In Yale, former Prime Minister of England, Tony Blair, made a speech to encourage the students to strive for excellence. "Life is not just to live. Life is to strive." He said.
As I contrast what I have experienced in America and what I have experienced in China -- a narrow-minded culture, encaged by a nameless paranoia and collective hatred, I want to shout out loud to the Chinese people: Wake up from your thousands of years of stupor! Open your eyes in your soul and return from despotism and self-deception to humanity and freedom! Recognize your uniqueness as an individual in God's eye and realize that unique meaning endowed upon you only by God.
Come out of your dirty morass, shake off all the filth from your body and mind, dumped there by your ancestors, embark on a journey of self-discovery toward the ocean of freedom!
My best wishes to you all. Kai Chen 陈凯
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Kai Chen on Freedom 陈凯论自由
Lake Placid, February 1932, III Olympic Winter Games. The team USA I, winner of the 4-man bobsleigh event: William FISKE, Edward EAGAN, Clifford GRAY and Jay O'BRIEN. Credit: IOC
一个真正的自由奥运英雄 William Fiske - an American Olympic Hero
The 1936 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IV Olympic Winter Games, were celebrated in 1936 in the market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. Germany also hosted the Summer Olympics the same year in Berlin.
Bill Fiske 是一个真正的美国英雄，真正的自由奥运的传播者，真正的有良知的体育运动家。 作为两次奥运金牌得主（1928，1932) 的百万富翁，Bill Fiske 以个人的良知抗议了美国奥委会对纳粹德国的软弱和绥靖，抵制了1936年的德国纳粹冬季奥运。 1939 年他志愿加入了英国空军。 1940 年战死于保卫英国的与纳粹的空战中。 一个伟大的体育家，一个伟大的人。 --- 陈凯
Bill Fiske is a real American hero, a real Olympia, a real athlete who refused to give up his conscience for glory. Two time Olympic gold medalist, a millionaire, Bill Fiske protested American Olympic Committee's decision to expel two American athletes with Jewish background from 1936 Olympic roster. He personally boycotted the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany, giving up the chance for the third gold medal. In 1939 Bill Fiske joined the Royal Air Force. He was killed in battle defending England. A true great athlete. A true great man. --- Kai Chen
William Fiske III is a lesser known Olympic gold medalist today. But he is a hero and an example of how a true athlete should think and act, according to his individual judgment by his own conscience.
Bill Fiske never lost sight when the whole world was engulfed and enamored by the emerging Nazi power in Germany in the 1930s. A heroic individual act of conscience might not prevent WWII from happening. But the world of good and humanity survived because of millions of such individual act of conscience. The world will never forget what Bill Fiske had accomplished in his short life -- preservation of what is worthy in all endeavors of mankind.
I hope you enjoy his story and remember him in your heart. Best. Kai Chen 陈凯
William Fiske III
Birth: Jun. 11, 1911
Death: Aug. 18, 1940
Pilot Officer Fiske was an American pilot who joined the Royal Air Force. He became the first U.S. citizen to be killed in World War II.
The son of William and Beulah Fiske, he was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a wealthy banking family whose ancestors had come from Suffolk, England in the seventeenth century.
He attended school in Chicago, went to France with his family in 1924, and Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1928 where he studied Economics and History. He was well known on the Cresta run at St Moritz and for many years was the unbeaten champion. He was the driver of the 5-man bobsled team for the USA in the Winter Olympics of 1928 at St Moritz at the age of 16, and the now 4-man bobsled team in the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid. At this event, he carried the flag for the Americans at the opening ceremonies, presided over by Governor Franklin D Roosevelt of New York. The Billy Fiske trophy is named for him, the youngest Gold Medal winner in the sport. In 1933, he took a turn at the movies, coproducing "White Heat" with Whitney De Rhan, starring Virginia Cherrill, the first wife of Cary Grant.
In 1939, using the ruse of Canadian citizenship, he join Britain's Royal Air Force. He wrote in his diary: "I believe I can lay claim to being the first US citizen to join the RAF in England after the outbreak of hostilities."
He became Acting Pilot Officer Fiske (Service number 78092) on 12APR1940 and 3 months later on July 12 he was assigned to No. 601 Auxiliary Air Force Squadron at Tangmere. Bill Bond of the Battle of Britain Historical Society argues that while Fiske was a remarkable character, it was important to remember that he recorded no confirmed kills. On August 11 he claimed his first probable kill of a Bf-110 and on August 13 he claimed the probable kill of a Ju-88. On August 16, 1940 his squadron was scrambled to repel an attack against the Tangmere aerodrome. Following the successful mission, Fiske was severely burned when his Hurricane (P3358) crash-landed and caught fire. "Billy" Fiske died a day later from shock while in the Royal West Sussex Hospital in Chichester.
On August 20, 1940 he was laid to rest in the Boxgrove Cemetery in Sussex. He is honored as the first American airman in British Service to die in World War II. In 1941, during the unveiling of a tablet in his honor in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral, Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair said, "Here was a young man for whom life held much. Under no kind of compulsion he came to fight for Britain. He came and he fought, and he died."
"An American who died so England can live."
Cause of death: Casualty of war
Search Amazon for William Fiske
Saint Mary and Saint Blaise Churchyard
West Sussex, England
Record added: Feb 1 2002
By: Jim Tipton
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Human Rights Torch Lit in Chicago
Stark Rights Abuses Brought to Light
By Paul Darin
Epoch Times Illinois Staff May 12, 2008
Former China national basketball team member Mr. Chen Kai, and a goddess, hold aloft the Human Rights Torch at the Human Rights Torch Relay in Chicago on May 10. (Tu Jingan/Epoch Times)
CHICAGO—The Human Rights Torch was lit at Chicago's Lincoln Park this past Saturday in the presence of politicians, rights activists and local community groups.
Consisting of a series of speeches and a symbolic walk with the torch around Lincoln Park's North Pond, the event was part of the Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) that has traveled to over 30 U.S. cities since the end of March.
Mayor James Burke of Dixon, Illinois, the first speaker, used human rights to contrast China with the United States.
"The human spirit cannot be corralled, harnessed and held in check like livestock. Furthermore, China will not realize its full potential for greatness until it frees this human spirit. American is not without serious faults, but the absence of human rights in this country is not one of them," said the mayor.
Congressman Bobby Rush and the Clerk Dorothy Brown of the Circuit Court of Cook County were represented at the event by their deputies.
The Congressman's letter, read by Deputy District Director Younus Suleman, calls attentions to China's human rights abuses both inside and outside China as opposition to the Olympic spirit while encouraging effort to press China for change.
"The continuing and, in fact, worsening human rights violations in China and that country's support of abuses in other parts of the world, including Darfur, stand in direct opposition to the Olympic spirit. . . As the Global Human Rights Torch continues its journey, it is lighting the way for all of us of good faith to continue pressing for change in China and wherever humanity is under assault," the letter says.
The Clerk Dorothy Brown's letter of support, read by Ms. Jalyne Strong, Chief Deputy Clerk of Public Information, mentions the countries whose human rights abuses are said to have been supported by China.
The rally for the Human Rights Torch Relay in Chicago. (Tu Jingan/Epoch Times)"This torch is hugely significant because it symbolizes our united stance in a worldwide effort to raise awareness about not only the human rights abuses of the Chinese Communist Party but also the ongoing persecutions of people under corrupt regimes in the countries of Myanmar, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Darfur and wherever unjust practices are being inflicted upon humankind," says the Clerk in the letter.
U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin, Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter, Illinois State Representative William Davis were among those who greeted the Chicago's HRTR with letters of support.
Each of the speakers had a different focus: Burma, Vietnam, Tibet, underground churches, Falun Gong, the Uyghurs, and press freedom. The stories they told—widely apart in time and space—were all meant to expose the Chinese regime's human rights violations.
Dr. Nora Rowley, a medical doctor who was on a mission with Doctors Without Borders in Burma (Myanmar) one and a half years ago, spoke of China's role in Burma's humanitarian crisis. One of her points was the junta's efforts to block aid to help victims of last week's cyclone that is said to have killed as many as 100,000 people.
Mr. Thang Do, research scientist and president of the Vietnamese American Social and Culture Council of Illinois, drew attention to human rights violations by the communist regimes in both Vietnam and China.
Mr. Younus Suleman of Congressman Rush's office reads a letter from the Congressman at the Human Rights Torch Relay in Chicago. (Tu Jingan/Epoch Times)"I am here today because my conscience told me to speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves, people whose rights are severely violated," said Mr. Do.
Representing the Tibetan communities was Tenzin Peldun, a student at Chicago's Francis W. Parker School, who began her speech saying, "Imagine it's March 10 and you hear on the news about the riots and uprisings in Tibet.
"You begin to wonder whether your family in Tibet is safe," she continued. "You want to call them so badly, but because you know how Tibetans are treated by the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet, you can't. You don't want to put their lives in danger because they have tapped the phone lines."
One of the stories told by Monica Westin, a graduate at the University of Chicago, was meant to illustrate how the Uyghurs in Xinjiang have been vilified by CCP propaganda.
"Perhaps my strongest memory of Xinjiang is of sitting across from a fellow teacher my age who was Han Chinese, who urged me to stay away from the Uyghurs. She leaned in and said, without a trace of irony, that the Uyghur people will try to infect all Chinese and Western people with needles that contain drugs and the HIV virus."
Mr. Chen Kai leads members of the rally at the Human Rights Torch Relay in a symbolic walk. (Tu Jingan/Epoch Times)
Falun Gong was represented at the event by Ms. Zhang Tianxiao, whose mother and brother died in China because of refusing their belief in Falun Gong while her younger sister has disappeared since February 2002 after being arrested for the same reason.
Mr. William Federer, a best-selling author and former US congressional candidate, highlighted China's lack of freedom of press with the imprisonment of journalists in China, while Beth Copeland, president of Voice of the Martyrs, voiced her concern about the persecution of underground Christians in China.
The last speaker, Chen Kai, former member of China's national basketball team, said that the Beijing Olympics "will go down in history in infamy," along with the Nazi party's 1936 Olympic games and the 1980 Soviet Olympics.
The Human Rights Torch Relay, according to its web site, was initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong. Its purpose is to raise people's awareness about China's human rights violations, especially during the run-up to the Olympics. The Relay continues on May 14 in Ottawa, Canada and on May 17 in Toronto, Canada.
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Monday, May 12, 2008
我在芝加哥人权圣火的演讲 Link to My Speech in Chicago
This is the recording from my speech in Chicago Human Rights Torch Relay. I hope you enjoy it.
Best. Kai Chen
2008年5月11日 星期日 节目长度：4分17秒 下载mp3
William Federer, a conservative author and activist.
著名作家和演说家威廉．菲德 (William Federer) 若发言中列举了中共迫害新闻自由的例子。他披露，中共在2000年调查了90个大纪元时报在大陆的记者和编辑，逮捕了30个人。十余人被判刑或者劳教3到10年。
Friday, May 9, 2008
捉放技俩是中共党政自我合法的圈套 Playing Release Game Corrupts Our Own Soul
与中共党政一唱一和地玩弄“捉放”的游戏只能腐败我们自己的灵魂与理性。 我们在这种捉放的游戏中不知不觉地承认并认可了中共党政合法的谎言。 --- 陈凯
To play this rotten game of "Arrest then Release" with an illegitimate and criminal regime in China only diminishes and corrupts our own soul and conscience, only unconsciously falls into a trap set up by the criminal communist regime to legitimize itself. Playing this cruel and rotten game, often by the left in the West, with China's communist regime is only an effective way to perpetuate the regime by ignoring the evil, criminal nature of China's Party-state. We have to be very clear about it. --- Kai Chen
I paste this article from LA Times here below for you to read. It proposes a "Olympic Pardon" for Hu Jia who was sentenced to three and half years by the Chinese regime for publishing some article the authorities didn't approve.
Now here we go again. I have repeatedly involved in these activities of rescuing the dissidents in China, including Wei Jingsheng. But not this time. I have learned from experience what we are doing is exactly what the communist regime in China intends us to do -- to beg, to appeal, to appease, to expect, to imagine, to fantasize.... The trick/trap the Chinese evil regime designs for us is to use this "Arrest and Release" game to legitimize it own control over the population, to manipulate the world opinion, to disguise the evil nature and criminal essence of the communist Party-state.
We must learn from our past failure in dealing with an insidiously clever, evil regime, for if we don't learn from this rotten game we are involved in with an illegitimate government, we will allow ourselves to be corrupted and deceived by the very evil we want to vanquish.
Wake up, people! It is not what we do with the evil Chinese regime, it is what we do against the evil Chinese regime that will bring the final downfall of the Party-state. Let's focus on what we do, what actions we will take, NOT what the Chinese communist regime will do. Only when we control what we do in this fight against evil, not when we beg, appeal, cry for what evil can do, we can finally defeat the evil.
Best. Kai Chen 陈凯
Human rights group proposes 'Olympic pardon'
Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images
DISSENT: Hu Jia, a critic of China’s record on human rights, is serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence.
U.S.-based Dui Hua asks China to free political prisoners as a goodwill gesture prior to the Beijing Olympics in August.
By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 9, 2008
BEIJING -- At a time when China is touting its Olympic mascots, stadiums and hospitality, a San Francisco-based human rights group has suggested that it add one more feature for the Games: the first "Olympic pardon" of political prisoners.
The Dui Hua Foundation made its appeal public Thursday, offering an approach it believes could help Beijing improve a reputation battered in recent months by its Tibet crackdown, Darfur policies and the protests dogging the global relay of the Olympic torch.
Dui Hua's proposal was sent through government channels late last month to Wu Bangguo, the head of China's parliament. The group argues that pardons would be in keeping with the Olympic themes of peace, solidarity and humanitarianism.
The wife of one prominent prisoner agreed.
"This would offer a good opportunity to improve human rights in China," said Zeng Jinyan, whose husband, Hu Jia, is serving a 3 1/2 -year sentence after he criticized the government for failing to improve its human rights record ahead of the August Games.
"The government has not acted in keeping with the rule of law."
Dui Hua said it hoped that a less confrontational approach as others were demonstrating against Chinese policies or threatening a boycott of the Olympics' opening ceremony would appeal to members of the government looking to soften China's image.
"This is a concrete step that China can take," said Joshua Rosenzweig, the group's manager of research and programs. "We've hopefully tried to raise it as a suggestion, not a criticism."
Although Dui Hua said it was not pursuing the release of specific prisoners, it cited two long-imprisoned groups whose release would not threaten social order.
One group includes prisoners serving terms related to the 1989 student uprising in Tiananmen Square; their release would enable China to put that chapter behind it. The second includes those convicted of being "counterrevolutionaries" or "hooligans," charges removed from the criminal code in 1997.
Dui Hua said the idea was favorably received by Chinese officials it conferred with, although that did not mean a pardon would materialize.
Dui Hua, founded in 1999, has taken a lower-key approach toward China than some other human rights groups, issuing lists of known political prisoners, developing relationships with Chinese officials and working through diplomats and the media for reduced sentences.
Other human rights groups said an "Olympic pardon" could work.
"It's doable, reasonable and may fit with China's desperate need to rehabilitate its public image ahead of the Games," said Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch. "China has nothing to lose."
Monday, May 5, 2008
陈凯：阳光先生传递圣地亚哥人权圣火 Kai Chen in San Diego
5/5/2008 1:35:55 AM
中国人与西方左派的道德盲点 Moral Blind Spot - On Abdul-Jabbar's Article
除去1936年柏林奥运和1980年莫斯科奥运外，将2008年北京奥运与任何其他奥运比较只能说明比较者的致命道德混乱与道德盲点。 大多数中国人与西方左派正是这种道德混乱与道德盲点的典型代表。 --- 陈凯
Besides 1936 Berlin Olympics and 1980 Moscow Olympics, comparing, not contrasting, Beijing Olympics with any others Olympics only demonstrate the moral confusion of those who compare, and only shows the fatal moral blind spot of those who compare. Most Chinese and the left in the West are typical representatives of such moral confusion and moral blindness. --- Kai Chen
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Laker great, wrote an article in LA Times today, comparing 2008 Beijing Olympics with 1968 Mexico City Olympics in which some American athletes protested the US government's inadequate response to protect civil rights of the American citizens. He is grossly mistaken.
I like Jabbar, a very conscientious and intelligent man, a great basketball player. But to compare 1968 Mexico City Olympics with 2008 Beijing Olympics shows exactly what is wrong with the American left who only wants some so-called human rights without addressing the fundamental issue of legitimacy of the Chinese government, or any despotic communist regimes in the world.
I have seen articles written comparing 2008 Beijing Olympics with 1988 Seoul Olympics, hoping such event will bring change to China as it did to South Korea. The fundamental moral mistake of those who compare the two missed the qualitative differences between a communist regime and an authoritarian regime entirely under American influence. History shows us time again that only those countries under American influences can reform and change. The Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan.., to name just a few examples.
None of the communist regimes in the world, same as Nazi and Fascist regimes, can reform itself. They either collapse under their own weight, or are defeated in wars by the free world.
People like Jabbar are either naive or ignorant about the nature of the Chinese communist regime. Or they are simply intellectually lazy and morally dishonest when they make such comparison. My wife made a comment on Jabbar by saying that 1968 Olympics was the only one that Jabbar experienced with some protest, so he has to compare the two. I replied that this does not give him excuses not to be morally clear about the communist regime in China. To compare China with 1960s America only shows Jabbar is indeed morally confused and intellectually ignorant. This fatal moral blind spot will cause many lives and great misery for the people of the world in the years to come.
The illegitimacy and criminal nature of the Chinese communist regime must be exposed to its fullest extent as the Beijing Olympics approaches. I, as Jabbar, do not advocate boycotting the Olympics because I don't want to deprave the athletes the opportunity to compete. But I do indeed advocate boycotting the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. And I strongly urge President Bush not to attend the Opening Ceremony in Beijing on August 8, 2008.
I have repeatedly stated my position on the nature of the Chinese society and the Chinese government. Now I paste Jabbar's article on today's LA Times here for you to read.
Best. Kai Chen
Abdul-Jabbar compares calls for Olympic boycotts in 1968 and 2008
Spencer Haywood ( leads way during U.S. gold-medal win at the 1968 Games, where there was a protest by black Americans but no boycott
Politics shadow Mexico City and Beijing Olympics, but Abdul-Jabbar sees different options in China.
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Special to The Times
May 5, 2008
In 1968 I was a 20-year-old college junior whose basketball success had made me famous. I'd been honored as most outstanding player in the NCAA tournament, named the U.S. Basketball Writers Assn. player of the year, and played the "game of the century" against the Houston Cougars at the Astrodome. So it wasn't surprising that I was invited to try out for the Olympic basketball team to represent the U.S. in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Any other year I would have been proud and elated at the prospect of playing for my country against the world's elite athletes.
But 1968 wasn't like any other year.
The Vietnam War had divided the country more violently than any time since the Civil War. The nightly news clips of U.S. planes bombing the Vietnam jungle were paralleled by clips of angry, sometimes bloody, clashes between war protesters and war supporters.
Violence was almost as rampant at home. First Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, then Robert Kennedy. The 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago featured thousands of anti-war protesters who were met with police violence.
In the midst of all this international and domestic turmoil, the Olympic Games represented, to some, an opportunity to bring people of all nationalities together, maybe heal some wounds. To others it represented the usual hypocrisy of ignoring the political problems in the name of entertainment and profit.
And there I was in the middle. Twenty years old. The age of many of the soldiers who were fighting and dying in Vietnam. Some of them were my childhood friends. Because of my visibility as an athlete, whatever I chose to do would have international reverberations.
At that time sociology professor Dr. Harry Edwards, only in his mid-20s, urged black athletes to boycott the Olympic Games in Mexico City.
"For years we have participated in the Olympic Games, carrying the United States on our backs with our victories, and race relations are now worse than ever," he told the New York Times Magazine in 1968. "We're not trying to lose the Olympics for the Americans. What happens to them is immaterial. . . . But it's time for the black people to stand up as men and women and refuse to be utilized as performing animals for a little extra dog food."
Harsh words to many white sports fans and self-proclaimed patriots alike, but for African American athletes, there was a clear ring of truth behind the rhetoric. Clearly the Olympic Games and the Vietnam War were parallel competitions. In each, blacks were supposed to go overseas to drive themselves as hard as they could in order to bring glory to their country, only to return home and still be treated as second-class citizens.
All that gave me a lot to think about. Then baseball-pro-turned-broadcaster Joe Garagiola interviewed me on the "Today Show" and for the first time I spoke publicly about my concerns and frustrations regarding the direction the country was taking politically. Garagiola was clearly annoyed that I would even consider boycotting the Olympics. My response was that for black Americans life in this country was still something that included racially based discrimination in every area of life.
Eventually the idea of a boycott was abandoned because Edwards was unable to attract a critical number of athletes to the idea. In my case, I had a summer job with the city of New York that paid me very well and enabled me to attend school without having to worry about financial matters.
However, that October at the Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, after winning first and third in the 200-meter dash, raised their black-gloved fists from the medal podium and bowed their heads during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." This image captured the spirit of the times: Whites were outraged, blacks felt some rush of pride. Ironically, their gesture was a compromise; dozens of black American athletes had debated boycotting the Games but decided that this gesture would speak louder than not showing up. Edwards was credited with suggesting this compromise.
Here we are 40 years later and we are once again about to send our young athletes overseas to compete in games while we send our young soldiers overseas to fight in war. And, as before, there is a social agenda attached to the Olympic Games.
Should we boycott the Olympic Games to protest China's arrogant human rights performance, its political imperialism, its shoddy exports that recently have left some Americans ill or dead?
The answer is no. While it may seem disingenuous to be playing games with countries that aim weapons at us, the same claim can be made about us by many other countries.
I am of a mind that the actions of Smith and Carlos made a difference in 1968. However, this Olympics is an entirely different situation that requires different tactics to achieve a satisfactory resolution. Instead of turning our backs, we need to continue a dialogue with the Chinese.
The more we talk with each other, the more we understand each other and can reach compromises that will benefit the lives of those we are trying to help. Jackie Robinson once said that the great thing about athletics is that "you learn to act democracy, not just talk it." That's what our athletes will demonstrate to the 1 billion Chinese who may be watching.
A second means of influencing the Chinese is through globalization, in which we share products, entertainment, and culture with others -- and they share theirs with us -- in order to break down the barriers that make us fear each other's differences.
The NBA is a good model for globalization. The Chinese Basketball Assn. permits only two foreign-born players per team. But the NBA's policy of choosing the best players, regardless of nationality, has not only kicked up the level of play, but it's made basketball more popular on an international level than ever. The fact that the NBA brought in China's Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi, Yi Jianlian, Sun Yue and Mengke Bateer has increased NBA fans in China -- and when the Chinese people are exposed to America through basketball, we become more human to them, less a threat.
So, let's not just pick up our ball and stay home. We have many more options -- political, commercial, and cultural -- to express our displeasure with China's policies. The more we have in common, the more impact we can make. It's all about building trust.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, is the author of six books, including "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance."
Kai Chen's Email to Jabbar:
Dear Kareem: 5/5/08
"Slavery is not a matter of simple oppression. It is an insidious codependency between the slaves and the slave-owners. This is also true in today's Chinese State Slavery". I as a modern abolitionist will stand up to address the issue of the nature of the Chinese government and society, as a conscientious athlete, as a free man. --- Kai Chen
I am a former basketball player for the Chinese National Team in 1978. I published my book last year. "One in a Billion - Journey toward Freedom, the Story of a Pro-Basketball Player in China". You can go on Amazon to get it.
After I read your article in today's LA Times, I wrote a piece in my forum http://www.youpai.org/forums/viewforum.php?f=5. I will paste that article in my blog as well: http://olympicsfreedomtshirt.blogspot.com/. My personal website is www.freewebs.com/oneinabillion
I am very disturbed by your comparison between 1968 Mexico City Olympics and 2008 Beijing Olympics. To me there is no comparison, but only contrast. To compare America with China is a gross moral mistake and such a moral confusion must be addressed.
China is not a nation. China is a Party-state. The Chinese communist government is not only illegitimate but criminal in nature. If you know China's constitution, you will see that the communist party's absolute control over the Chinese population is guaranteed in it. The Chinese press, court, army, police are all under the command of the communist party, not under the government. Throughout the reign of terror under the communist regime, 70 million innocent lives have been lost over murder, torture, starvation, labor camps. Today those atrocities are still being perpetrated upon the Chinese people. Christians, Monks, Falungong practitioners, minorities..., are still being persecuted. If you truly want to compare the Olympics from the past with the Beijing Olympics, only two come to my mind: 1936 Berlin Nazi Olympics and 1980 Moscow Communist Olympics. To compare the Beijing Olympics with any other only shows your moral confusion and ignorance.
I am not advocating boycotting the Beijing Olympics for the sake of the athletes. But I do advocate boycotting the Opening Ceremony in Beijing August 8, 2008. And I strongly urge President Bush not to attend the Opening Ceremony.
I read your book "The Giant Steps" and I admire your intelligence and integrity. But your moral blind spot on this issue and your position on the Chinese communist regime will cause negative consequences for the freedom-loving people in the world. Tolerance of differences is a virtue. Tolerance of evil is beyond a vice, for such tolerance will bear grave consequences in the years to come, and will put one squarely into the camps of evil regimes. Please rethink your position on the Beijing Olympics. Or if you want to educate yourself on this issue, you can establish regular communication with me. My phone: 323-734-2544, or 323-734-3071. My email: Elecshadow@aol.com
Yao Ming is facing a great moral dilemma. He, as I was, is not a free person. He signed a soul-selling contract with the Chinese government before he entered NBA. He will never reveal the extent of involvement he is with the Chinese government, in political propaganda, in slaving for a criminal state, in offering himself for a little material gain to oppress others... We are only tools and lackeys for a regime who holds our love of our profession -- basketball as hostage against our free will. I say this for all the Chinese athletes who are still under the thumbs of tyranny. I as one, one of a very few, today stand up to tell the world the truth about Chinese athletics and sports. I hope you will take a stand against evil as well.
With respect. Kai Chen, a fellow athlete.