Let’s try not to be Ugly Americans
It didn’t take long for the U.S. media to focus on a glitch in the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics. The failure of one of the Olympic rings to light properly was commented on at the time of the hiccup and mentioned again in the wrap-up at the end of the ceremonies. By that time, the glitch had been corrected. The next morning there was a picture of the malfunction in The News and a T-shirt already for sale on the Internet. How mean-spirited.
The opening ceremony was magnificent and a tribute to Russian artistry and history. It highlighted wonderful contributions made by the host nation to the fabric of human life on this planet in arts, sciences and culture in general. Yes, there was allusion to some darker aspects of the Russian past, but given the U.S. treatment of Native Americans at the inception of this country (and for centuries since) and the issues of slavery and Civil War, there is much we do not want to put on display either. All nations have their issues in the past. However, the music, the sets and the themes were a tribute to what is best in the Russian people.
England supposedly wasn’t ready to stage the Summer Games of 2012 and its venues were not supposed to be ready days before the Games, but the country hosted a magnificent spectacle of sport and theater during the its hosting. Some inconveniences are bound to occur in an undertaking of this magnitude. Let us not get so caught up in being Ugly Americans and pointing out the flaws of other countries (politically and culturally), but rather embrace the spirit of what is best about the Olympics: sportsmanship, competition and joyous celebration of the world’s youth, who hopefully someday will make this a better planet.
Ronald J. Cohen