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Torch detour made the best of a tense situation?

By Josh Richman
Thursday, April 10th, 2008 at 10:55 am in General.

The dust has settled, the Olympic torch is in Buenos Aires. Summing yesterday up:

  • The torch was run through the San Francisco’s streets, though not as planned.
  • The world saw it happen, while also seeing the passion of the thousands of protestors who forced the detour.
  • Many people who’d come just to see the torch were disappointed.
  • Nobody got hurt.
  • Only two or three people were cited by police.
  • One could make a pretty strong argument that things went better than most expected. Would it have been better to stick to the original plan, risking chaos far in excess of what we ended up seeing? Everyone had their say and got their publicity this way, and with so many angry people and so many law enforcement officers all jammed together yesterday, it’s pretty amazing things went as peacefully as they did.

    People should consider why San Francisco was chosen for the torch run in the first place, as the city has earned its reputation many times over as a hotbed of activism. Even if China hadn’t incurred the world’s wrath with its recent crackdown in Tibet, you can bet your bottom dollar that pro-Tibet, pro-Burma, anti-Darfur-genocide, anti-sweatshop, animal-rights and other activists would’ve hit the streets en masse here anyway — protesting is one of the things San Francisco does best. (I’m still convinced that somewhere out there among the protesting throngs yesterday was somebody toting a “Free Mumia” banner; mission creep is another thing San Francisco does best. But hey, that’s free speech — it’s not like we’re China or something.)

    If organizers had wanted a bucolic run, they should’ve taken it to any number of other U.S. cities: maybe Salt Lake City, site of the most recent U.S.-hosted Olympic Games, maybe Atlanta, maybe freakin’ Topeka. (Booooo, Jayhawks!)

    Bringing the torch here guaranteed yesterday’s result — a thorough airing of all views. The world saw the Olympic torch carried by proud Americans, and also saw it protected by a phalanx of officers as it dodged through San Francisco like the target in a carnival Whac-a-Mole game.

    Messages received; so much the better that they weren’t written in blood.

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    • Progressive Democrat

      Are you SURE we’re not like China? We’re in Iraq for the oil. l00,000 Iraqis are the victims of an illegal US occupation for oil. China was forced out of Iraq where they had negotiated an oil agreement with Sadaam. The US took over to control this oil. Now China is in Sudan for oil that the US is monopolizing for our country in Iraq. We’re killing Iraqis whom we call Al Queda, insurgents, criminals and other names–that is, anyone who opposes the US occupation and theft of Iraqi resources by foreign us-BASED corproations. Also, China is the only 3rd world country that pulled 300 million of its people out of poverty. Now we criticize them for industrializing and what we did plundering and destroying our environment in the l9th century. Everything we criticize China for there is a counterexample in US. But we are ALL such experts and SOOOO morally superior to those evil China commies who cannot possibly do anything right to help their people.

    • Josh Richman

      I wrote “it’s not like we’re China or something” to mean we don’t roll tanks over people who’ve taken to the streets (or to blogs!) to speak out for justice — taken in context it clearly was a free-speech reference, not intended as a blanket condemnation.