Philip Glass on the Olympics
“I think that we should pull out . . . The Chinese are supposed to be taking care of human rights; they haven’t done it. The only reason we don’t pull out is that people are more interested in money than they are in human rights. I think the Olympic Committee should really pull the plug on it. . . . Basically, the Chinese commies have been isolated for 50 years; they have no idea what the rest of the world is like. They think that we’re just another province of China and that they can do what they damn well want to. And they’re a bunch of losers. They make a distinction: As long as you’re not political, you can do whatever you want in China. But politics is about the way we live! They’re drawing the line on the very things that matter to us most.” ~ Phillip Glass (9 April '08)Composer Philip Glass recently has offered his views on the complex politics central to the upcoming Olympics. As I have noted here several times, the Beijing games are not idiosyncratic in being political   .
Glass is right and wrong. He is wrong to think that it is vaguely possible to "pull the plug." It simply will never happen. In part that is because of the money. In part it is because of the sheer hypocrisy - the U.S., for example, surely cannot speak with any credibility on the need to censure countries that violate civil and political rights. At a more fundamental level, though, Glass also is right - "politics is about the way we live!" And so the question is how one might mount a political - rather than a moralistic - response to the Chinese on human rights. And, of course, the same is needed here at home too.
P.S.: Word has it that Glass describes himself as "a Jewish-Taoist-Hindu-Toltec-Buddhist." On re-reading his remarks I began to wonder. Which of those traditions would embrace his dismissive comment "they're a bunch of losers?"