And: the Olympic "torch is to celebrate human rights." Wrong. China was thinking politics as it wooed the Olympics, and suggested it would improve how it treats people in the Olympic spirit. Now, as China has been preparing for the Olympics, its preparations have left some 22 people dead (if you believe the PRC) or 140 dead (if you believe Tibetans), and the government is talking about "patriotic education" in Tibetan monasteries.
Team Newsom insists that hizzoner never planned on trying to censor activists protesting against China. For one thing, Newsom said, he agrees with the Free Tibet crowd.
Also, Newsom argued that as mayor, he has a responsibility to protect the rights of the Olympics Committee and those who want to celebrate the Games, as well as those who would protest Chinese policies.
Let me note that these activists, even with right on their side, do not have a right to stop Olympic ceremonies. They have a right to protest Olympic events, not to shut them down. Too bad The Special City does not have a solid record of going after law-breaking protesters -- be they angry Critical Mass bicyclists or anti-globalization activists who crushed a cop's skull -- when the cause is leftist. So the city has fed the belief that leftists are entitled to censure -- even hurt -- those with whom they disagree. Sadly, it can be no surprise that China's San Francisco Consulate was attacked by arsonists this month.
Newsom told me that some San Franciscans have urged him to refuse to allow the torch into the city. (His staff sent me Olympic rules that show, by the way, that the Beijing Olympics Committee never planned to present the torch to Newsom.) That's "abhorrent," Newsom told me. "They're telling me that they don't want the torch to be allowed into San Francisco."
I don't like that the Olympics Committee chose Beijing as a host city. That was wrong, but it's done. Now the best outcome would be if San Francisco can show the world a city that can harbor vigorous dissent -- without turning into a lawless zoo.
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