Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Free Tibet, or something.

I'm sitting here on my usually empty and quiet train, thinking to myself, "It's awfully loud and crowded today." For those that don't know, the Olympic torch makes its one and only appearance today in the United States, in San Francisco. The Olympic committee probably chose SF because of the large asian population. I'm currently surrounded by the mixed chattering of Mandarin and Cantonese, and all the people are wearing "Beijing 2008" shirts. Many have their small children with them, taking them to see this once (or maybe twice) in a lifetime experience.

However, what the Olympic committee seems to have forgotten is that San Francisco not only has the largest asian population in the country, but it also has the largest protester population in the country. Sitting right across from the "Beijing 2008" t-shirt wearers are the "Free Tibet" t-shirt wearers. As they got on, they were saying things like, "I can't believe these people support the Olympics. Don't they realize all of those American tourist dollars are going to go straight to Sudan and Darfur!" Yeah, because those tourist dollars are going to be the tipping point that gives China the freedom to fund that sort of stuff. The billions of dollars we already give them though Wal-Mart are only used for good wholesome things, like sending us Chow Yun Fat and Yao Ming, and paying for that super China firewall. The protesters are mostly naive Stanford students, but I really wish they would at least do some research first.

Seeing all the excited kids reminds me of when I saw the Olympic torch. It was 1984, and I had just turned 7. We lived in Los Angeles, so it was quite easy for us to head down and see the relay on its final leg. I still remeber all the cheering crowds, and definietely do not remember any protesters. There was a distinct feeling of happiness, especially since America had boycotted the previous Olymics in Russia (the the USSR). Everyone was just happy that we were competing again.

I also remember being able to get right up to the front, almost able to touch the torch runner. I feel sorry for these kids. Their once in a lifetime experience is going to be watching a torch runner surrounded by three layers of police and the FBI, with protestors shouting "Free Tibet" behind them.

ps. The train conductor just had to get on the PA and remind everyone that there is only one bathroom on the train for 660 people, and everyone needs to move quicker. It's going to be a hell of a train ride...