Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Though it’s interesting reading, Tom Shanahan’s piece today left me wondering what library he gets his facts from. I wish he’d been a bit clearer on his assertion that Jimmy Carter drew up his foreign policy from the NYT‘s sports section on whether to boycott the Moscow games in 1980, as he states below:

President Jimmy Carter, though, following bad advice that started with a New York Times sportswriter, decided the U.S. would boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

That paragraph should have had some meat on its bones in the form of proof or at least a citation or two on sources for an interested reader to check, rather than proceed as the blunt crack at Carter that it was instead.

Another statement that almost gets it right is when sports editorializer Shanahan confides his inside knowledge on China’s jump from Maoism to unfettered capitalism in one great leap forward:

If you’ve been to China, you know it is an increasingly capitalistic country… Capitalism is what puts pressure on the Chinese government to relax its controls.

Even those who haven’t taken the tour of the Great Wall have figured out the truth of his assertion, and perhaps some of us can go him one better; if we should care to boycott China and send a message that their human rights record is unacceptable, we could always buy American and hit the Chinese in the pocketbook. We could avoid the Wal-Mart for the mom ‘n pop shops and dis-elect the representatives who prefer to represent business interests that export jobs to China rather than represent the voters here at home. We could reappraise the value of the cheap trinkets at the discount stores and re-assess what they really cost us in terms of damage to our own economy and to the ability of the skilled worker to make a living. No doubt we should do something about our fiscal support of China, since an honest person’s conscience ought to rebel at supporting a foreign economy that burns political dissidents to death and harvests their organs for sale on the Internet—and that ought to outweigh the good deals one can find at the China Overseas Trading Corporation, a.k.a. Costco.

This kind of economic re-think would even leave the athletes empowered to boldly go in search of the gold wherever it may be. Hopefully that wouldn’t include endorsing Chinese-made products for the impressionable American market. Perhaps Shanahan can do a brilliant piece on athletes’ endorsements and where the products they pump come from. That would be interesting reading.

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