As the old saying goes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

That’s especially true when leadership fails. And right now, American political leadership is failing on many levels.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for the Lakes Region Weekly, lives in Windham.

If the last year hasn’t made it abundantly clear already, President Biden is failing when it comes to causing inflation by printing money; allowing the COVID “cure” (freedom-bashing lockdowns, vaccine passports and mask mandates) to be worse than the disease; the botched, bloody and embarrassing pullout from Afghanistan; fuel prices; allowing for the possibility of a “minor incursion” into Ukraine by Russia; and a host of other significant gaffes and policy errors.

But not to be overlooked is Biden’s decision to allow U.S. athletes to participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics, starting Feb. 4, opting for a “diplomatic boycott” instead of a full boycott.

If ever there were something to boycott in order to send a message to an adversary, it’s these Olympics. And since American leadership is not willing to do this, Americans should by tuning out.

I’m really surprised that the United States didn’t use the Olympics as a chance to take a firm stand against China. A diplomatic boycott is something, but not much. A full boycott, which includes keeping our athletes home, would have had the Chinese Communist Party take notice and realize there are consequences for its genocide and human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslims, a 1-million-strong population with its own ethnic identity that lives in the Xinxiang province of far western China, near Tibet.


Read the online BBC News story entitled “Who are the Uyghurs and why is China being accused of genocide?” for an excellent primer on the issue. The article will leave you wondering why on one hand America, through our Secretary of State Antony Blinken, says genocide is being waged against the Uyghurs while on the other we still agree to participate in the upcoming games.

America is not the light on the hill as it once was, back when we were willing to boycott Olympic Games. Our light has since been snuffed by the gods of Almighty Sport and Commercial Advertisement. I doubt President Jimmy Carter, a righteous man if nothing else, would have allowed Americans to participate in Beijing, just as he didn’t allow Americans to participate in the 1980 Moscow Games to protest Russia’s advance into Afghanistan.

The Uyghurs are one thing, and their plight alone is enough to justify a full boycott, but China has misled the world when it comes to one of the most consequential pandemics ever. When you consider COVID-19’s impacts, which include hospitalizations, deaths, mental health decline, substance misuse, loss of freedom as well as economic and societal upheaval, it’s been an awful two years. No one has escaped unscathed.

And China, which pridefully hasn’t cooperated with the United States to figure out, at the very least, how the disease sprouted, is where it all started. It’s all so ridiculous and sad. Yet it was predictable because China is a communist nation where the rights of the individual are secondary to the state’s.

And now, after all we’ve been through at the hands of China, we are expected to act like nothing happened and tune in to the Chinese Communists’ Olympics on NBC, the second in Beijing since 2008. We’re to watch our athletes gleefully parade around a track in the middle of the Red Communist nation during opening ceremonies? I don’t think so. Not me.

My boycott will be hard, no doubt. I love watching the Winter Olympics – downhill skiing, four-man bobsledding and ski jumping. I love those crazy curlers. I love our death-defying, artistic, skillful athletes. But, maybe if enough TV viewers tune out, low ratings will speak truth to power, our own and China’s.

I wonder if our athletes will be brave enough to lodge protests of their own. I doubt they will because they’re representatives of the go-along-to-get-along American Olympic federation, whose leaders have decided to appease the ruthless Chinese president-for-life Xi Jinping by bowing at his Olympic altar.

Our athletes will likely join with other appeasing nations’ athletes with blissfully (willfully?) ignorant smiles during the opening processional despite, as the BBC and other outlets widely report, that Uyghur Muslims continue to be forced to pick one-fifth of the world’s cotton, undergo sterilizations, suffer rapes, are herded into “re-education camps” and forcibly marry non-Uyghurs in the Chinese Communists’ attempts to decimate their population.

One could argue that the world didn’t fully understand the evil that Hitler and the Nazis were up to during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but we all know what China’s doing, yet we still play along, literally and figuratively. But we in TV land don’t have to. We have the power of boycott.

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