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Tibet Not So Cool Anymore?

2:47 PM, Mar 18, 2008 • By KEVIN KUSINITZ
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Anyone remember a few years back when "Free Tibet!" was all the rage among the kids? They must've gotten lost on a side-trip to the nearest "Recreate ‘68" rally or something. That's the only thing I can think of, what with not a peep of protest from the usual suspects (i.e., people who memorize dialogue and lyrics for a living) regarding the photos of Tibetan monks getting their skulls cracked open on the order of Chinese authorities.

There was a time when this kind of foul behavior was good for at least a shout-out to the Dalai Lama from the red carpet. Even better, of course, would be a call to boycott the Olympics. (I'm not a sports fan, you see, and I really, really dislike totalitarian governments, so it's a win-win.) Al Gore would be the perfect cheerleader for such a cause; his followers hang to his every word the same way a dipso does to a flask of Thunderbird. But considering his track record (Howard Dean, global warming, bragging about his skills as a tobacco farmer), maybe he's the last guy Tibet needs in its corner. Hope those people in Darfur aren't expecting any long-term support from their protectors in Hollywood--pretty soon, they're going to be way un-cool.

And speaking of the Olympics, if there are any doubts that there are payoffs involved in choosing the host country, China should allay them pronto. Forget about the politics. Look at the smog. My wife spent a couple of weeks there and was utterly appalled by the brown sludge that passes for air in Beijing. I mean, she saw trucks running on coal, for God's sakes. And as for the tap water: she was instructed to keep her mouth tightly shut in the shower, brush her teeth using bottled water, and not eat fresh fruits because they'd been cleaned under faucets. At least one runner has already dropped out due to the smog.

The air's unbreatheable, the water undrinkable, the regime unconscionable--this is the right country for a major sporting event?