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Olympics column factually inaccurate

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 06:00 am

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Re: On Politics and the Olympics by Dr. Alan Murdock (St. Albert Gazette, Jan. 25):

I think this article is not factually correct and is a misrepresentation of the reality. There are several statements in the writer’s premise which are a distortion of the truth.

Firstly, the statement, “the boycott of the Olympics is stoked by President Barrack Obama,” is not factual.

The boycott was suggested by people around the world who are concerned about Russia’s record of heavy handed human rights, and particularly their proclivity to persecute its people because of sexual orientation. The arrest and persecution of these persons, in Russia, caused world citizens and athletes concern for civil rights and their safety.

The second unfortunate statement is the declaration that president Obama is “the so-called leader of the free world.” Then the writer goes on to suggest the boycott is a way for the “so-called leader to hit back at President Vladimir Putin who has embarrassed and out politicked him every step of the way in Syria.”

I rebut:

First, why should the United States of America be the policeman of the world? The American president observed the grief and chaos resulting from American intervention in Iraq, (weapons of mass destruction) and Afghanistan (the Taliban and human rights). Lessons may have been learned.

As Canadians we are fortunate to enjoy a healthy relationship with our powerful neighbour and throwing insults at our ally is counter-productive. Constructive criticisms can be useful, derogatory insults are not necessary.

A more accurate recount of events follows.

Fortunately the American president did not follow the French retaliatory suggestion, and sent John Kerry to negotiate a possible alternate solution. During negotiations, when Kerry was asked what it would take to stop the retaliatory measures against the Syrian government for its use of chemical weapons on its citizens in revolt, Kerry’s response was that removal of all chemical warfare materials from the country so this atrocity would not reoccur would be acceptable. The Russian representative, (Syria’s ally) adopted and proposed the solution, and possible armed confrontation has until now, been avoided.

The “forget tirade” near the end of the article is also unfortunate.

Does the writer sincerely, believe that forgetting the actions of the terrorists will make the games “safe?” He then references the ability of “the so-called leader of the free world,” “the U.S. has enough intelligence and space age technology to help protect all the athletes in Sochi.”

I understand that the Russian authorities have requested assistance from the U.S., in surveillance of terrorism at the games. It is heartening to hear of cooperation in achieving a memorable safe Olympics, human rights notwithstanding.

The affront Obama to “strut his moral superiority” also lacks sensibility since the idea of moral superiority should not be associated with the protection of human rights and freedoms. The cause of human rights has long been recognized in the most honoured, Gandhi, and Mandela among others.

Distortion of facts and slurs are not conducive to achieving creditability.

I agree, the Olympics can be a very rough game in politics.

Howard Schettler, St. Albert


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