By: James Di Fiore
Canada and the USA continue their rivalry today at Noon EST on CBC
Say what you will about the Olympic Games, but there is no denying the power of having millions of people simultaneously gasp and cheer for 2 hours. Canada has been here before, and every time it’s as close to magic as you can get.
For some, this is an overstatement. To them, the Games are too commercial, not political enough and an exercise in silly fandom. These Games have been especially political, with Russia’s draconian social policies front and centre. People wonder out loud if we are indirectly supporting the Putin Regime and its policies if we happen to wave a flag at a hockey game, or dare watch it on television.
It isn’t difficult to understand the backlash the Games receive. In fact, it’s depressingly easy. Russia spent an irresponsible 50 billion – that’s billion with a B – hosting these Olympics in a country where infrastructure, poverty and the economy is not as robust as the investment should indicate.
Back home, the primary focus on Olympic outrage is nestled in a solidarity gesture with gay rights activists all across the globe, and especially inside Russia. While formidable, these activists must be frustrated to know their efforts are not attracting the amount of support they hoped for, an indication there is lack of monolithic behaviour from people who truly believe in equal rights. Certainly, there are degrees in which people express their desire for change. There are die hard, moderate and apathetic enthusiasts for issues like gay rights, and none of them should be outright dismissed. You can simultaneously support gay causes while still tuning into a hockey game. You can believe the Olympics are run by self serving corporatists and still enjoy listening to the national anthem. You can even be disgusted at watching Pussy Riot get whipped by Sochi security and still be moved recalling Alex Bilodeau embracing his special brother for the world to see and admire.
And in Canada, a place where equal rights is considered one of our best known qualities, or at least more socially liberal than most of the westernized world, our citizens can walk and chew gum at the same time. So go on and fight the good fight in worldwide social justice, but please do not make us feel guilty for cheering on our hockey teams.