Paul Jacob

Just how important is it to you that your grandmother not be sent to a labor camp?

As the Beijing Olympics fade in memory, take one last note of the septuagenarian women threatened by Chinese authorities with a year in a labor camp for the terrible crime of seeking a permit to protest at the Games.

I’m confident that your inquiry won’t harmonize with so many world leaders and media outlets obliviously dubbing the Games a “success.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement congratulating “the government and people of China on their unprecedented effort and success in hosting the historic Olympic Games in Beijing.”

It’s nice that Mr. Ki-moon notices the blessed distinction between the government and the people — the ’Butchers of Beijing’ and the butchered. But how, then, can he congratulate the former?

As the XXIX Olympiad came to a close, The Washington Post’s front-page headline lacked subtlety: “A Victory for China: Spectacularly Successful Games May Empower Communist Leaders.”

Even the Christian Broadcasting Network argued, “Granted . . . it’s not as if every area of disagreement has simply melted away. Instead, the Olympics provided a way for China and the international community to come together and to begin to find common ground.”

How much “common ground” should we be expecting to find with thoroughly repressive China?

But there I go bringing politics in. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, a man with no ax to grind against tyranny, let it be known that, “The IOC is extremely pleased with the organization of the Games.”

Yes. Perhaps we should write that word “organization” with a capital O. (Should we capitalize “oppression” as well?)

Rogge, later given an honorary gold medal in synchronized cluelessness, announced at one news conference, “China has opened for the world to learn all about China, and China all about the world.”

What China learned, I’m afraid, is that political leaders throughout the world have little concern for freedom, for basic rights.

Back in July, IOC President Rogge had bragged that, “For the first time, foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China. There will be no censorship on the Internet.” But he reverted to “silent diplomacy” when the Chinese communist government censored the Internet anyway, in violation of the agreement with the IOC.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.