Olympics coverage: A gold medal in glossing over

Even those paid to hype the 2022 Winter Olympics have trouble mentioning they’re taking place in China.

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The opening ceremonies are Friday, but there are a lot of events to pack into 17 days of the Olympic games and competition already has begun. Here, John Morris of Team Canada competes during in curling.

The opening ceremonies are Friday, but there are a lot of events to pack into 17 days of the Olympic games and competition already has begun. Here, John Morris of Team Canada competes during in curling.

Lintao Zhang/Getty

Something is happening soon. An occurrence, at a place, involving people.

Interested? No? OK, maybe I didn’t give you enough information. It’s a sporting event, a big competition, far away.


Opinion bug


All right, all right: the 2022 Winter Olympics. Skiing, ice skating, bobsledding and more. Opening ceremonies are Friday.

It’s on television — NBC is carrying it, and I just heard a radio commercial that summarized the above without once mentioning what used to be a salient fact: the location.

The Olympics are taking place in China. And while the host country used to be significant, now it’s a footnote. Why? Bad optics. The ruthless oppression of China’s Uyghur population. The crackdown on Hong Kong. They don’t quite mesh with the Olympian ideal of competition and fair play.

There’s more. China’s mounting passion to subjugate the free and independent nation of Taiwan. Its vassal state of Tibet. And our two-year trade war.

Quite a lot, really.

But wait, as Ron Popeil said. There’s more. Don’t forget Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who accused a high-ranking Community Party member of assault last November then was yanked from sight, popping up in a variety of staged shams whose ham-handedness was almost reassuring.

The Birthplace of COVID....

You get the picture.

So “China” gets coughed into a fist, lest viewers who’d otherwise get excited about watching luge decide to pass. Myself, I might tune in, just for a glimpse of our totalitarian future, whether imposed from without or embraced from within. Seamless lies backed by faceless power. Something to look forward to.

Creative silence isn’t the only tool when ballyhooing the morally repellent. There are other strategies. Misdirection, like a magic act. “Illegal immigration,” pretending your problem is with the first word when it’s really the second. “Critical race theory.” “Wokism.”

Old reliables. But I’m seeing more of just skipping over the bad part, the way the Chinese ban “June 6,” trying to erase the massacre at Tiananmen Square.

NBC is not alone.

I received an email from James Tarantin because, well, I receive emails from every political campaign. I’d never heard of him — few have. He’s running for office in Maryland.

“Hello fellow Americans,” he begins, “I was born in Israel, and I’m the only Israeli-American to run for the United States Senate. I mention this because the day our 45th President declared Jerusalem as the new home of the U.S. embassy in Israel is a day I’ll never forget.”

Notice anything odd about that passage? I’ll give you a hint. He goes on to mention “our 45th President” three more times, without ever specifying who that may be.

Ordinarily, I can sympathize with someone who wants to avoid uttering the name Donald J. Trump. It leaves a bad taste.

But this seems noteworthy, to celebrate a Trump policy, and use that to fundraise your doomed crawl toward power while giving Trump the Voldemort treatment (“He who must not be named”).

That could even be a little reassuring, no? The Republican Party might not be able to recognize that Trump is a liar and bully, fraud and seditionist, hell-bent to destroy our nation as a functioning democracy in order to aggrandize himself. That’s a lot for even those who aren’t self-justifying cowards to wrap their heads around. But having his name catch in your throat, well, it’s a start, right?

“I am Pro-America ...” Tarantin lies. Nobody who supports Donald Trump is pro-America. Trump represents a radical, nihilistic departure from a nation based on laws, and pretending Trump can be accepted because you agree with a particular decision, like moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, is to miss the big picture. Donald Trump is the death of America. For him to succeed, the nation we love must die. I believe the more we say it out loud, the better. Trump Trump Trump. Leave polite silence to China.

Oddly, while Trump’s dupe army drape themselves in vagueness, Trump himself becomes more direct. Over the weekend he dropped the search for election fraud canard and started talking plainly about how he was pressuring Mike Pence to overturn the election, period. Maybe he decided to just be who he is: a failed, defeated, impeached, bitter, amoral zero of a man leading the terrified would-be sheep who would follow him over a cliff.

Almost makes a person want to veg out in front of the TV and watch a few minutes of bobsledding taking place ... ah ... somewhere.

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