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Jonathan Kraut: Beyond the Olympics and terrorism

Posted: January 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.

The Sochi Winter Olympic Games, commencing February 7, are but a few days away. In 1896 the First Modern Olympics resurrected the ancient Greek tradition of bringing together the most talented athletes. Since then the Modern Olympics have managed to survive world conflicts and have endured WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and hopefully the War on Terror.

The International Olympic Committee states “The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
One reason I am particularly fond of the Olympics is how close yet diverse athletes seem to be during this special time.

Even after the most heated events, fierce competitors become friends, mementos are exchanged, and a sense of camaraderie forms sometimes for life.

A true beauty of the Olympics for me is also the opportunity to view through this unique window into the traditions and cultures of various nations, many of which I will never experience for myself first hand.

These 22nd Winter Olympic games are being held in the towns of Sochi and Krasnaya Polyana, in southern Russia.

These are places I will never visit, but daily television coverage for two weeks will bring the faces, landmarks, and culture of these towns into my home.

Winter Olympic teams for these games come from 88 nations with as diverse peoples as mankind has to offer. But any world gathering is a perfect stage for terrorist attacks.

Terrorism by definition are acts of disruption and indiscriminate violence and destruction. The purposes of terrorism are the create fear and instability while bringing attention to a cause or view.

Terrorists have already marred the spirit of this year’s Winter Olympics by setting off a bomb killing 14 innocent people in the proximate Russian city of Volgograd a few weeks ago. Further attacks are promised and frankly are unpreventable- it is easy for any crazy to find a way to destroy and disrupt a well attended international event.

But before your brand all terrorists as evil, recall the founding of our nation were results of acts of treason and terror.

The Boston Tea Party of 1773 is perhaps the most memorable incident of indiscriminate destruction in our War for Independence. American patriots perceived the British Crown as unfair rulers. Americans protesters dressed up as American natives and destroyed private property to protest British taxation and dictatorial rule.
Imagine if today protesters dressed up as Somali pirates, converged on the shipyards in Long Beach, and started pushing Toyota Camrys off cargo ships into the sea.

My point is that to some what we call “terror” is justified as means to remedy what feels like an unacceptable condition. Americans engaged in terror, guerilla warfare, and other atrocities in the name of freedom and independence from Britain. To the British, these acts were treasonous. To patriots, these acts were part of creating a new way of life and self-rule.

Those who are indoctrinated from birth to rise up and fight what they perceive as unjust and an unacceptable condition are by some considered heroes and martyrs.

The acts of terror and fear already exhibited in southern Russia have already tarnished the spirit of the Olympics.

It is very likely that further acts of destruction and death will occur at these games. To some, this means that the games have already failed.

Our failure is not the disruption of the Olympics itself but in our ability to soften the violent views and narrow perspectives of would-be terrorists. A bomb or machine gun are only the tools of hatred when hatred exists.

The big lesson from Sochi is that ten years ago the International community did not effectively apply a sense of camaraderie and mutual trust to dissuade the current crop of twenty-something year old radicals from seeking destruction.

The remedy is that now we must focus on rooting out the seeds of discontent and radical views so that twelve years from now we can experience the Olympics humanity as it really is-- mankind with many families and many views but as one race.

Jonathan Kraut is a local private investigator and serves in the Democratic Party of the SCV and SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations.



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