Right wing commentary on world politics from a man on a mission to prove that Conservatism transcends national boundaries. Thoughtful comments from people of all political persuasions are welcome and encouraged. Contact the blogger at elephantman.conservaglobe@gmail.com.

Monday, February 20, 2006

PERsON OF THE WEEK - Feb. 13-19, 2006

Too tired to write a column tonight (and its too late anyway) I'll try to get one done tomorrow, but I at least have the graphic ready.

ConservaGlobe's Person of the Week is Chinese pairs figure skater Zhang Dan, who badly injured her knee during the free skate, but got up and completed her program. For their efforts, she and her partner were awarded the silver medal.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bryant Gumbel's anti-Olympics rant

If you haven't heard, sports commentator Bryant Gumbel has raised a few hackles by making the following comments on his HBO sports show:

Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don’t care about them and won’t watch them. In fact, I figure that when Thomas Paine said that “these are the times that try men’s souls,” he must’ve been talking about the start of another Winter Olympics. Because they’re so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won. And try to blot out all logic when announcers and sportswriters pretend to care about the luge, the skeleton, the biathlon and all those other events they don’t understand and totally ignore for all but three weeks every four years. Face it — these Olympics are little more than a marketing plan to fill space and sell time during the dreary days of February. So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.

As a both a conservative and a huge fan of Winter Games, I feel compelled to offer a response to Gumbel's consecending, tasteless, and racist comments.

First off, just because a sport does not have a high number of black competitors does not mean that it requires any less skill, it just means that African or African-American athletes choose to focus on other sports. The low numbers of black athletes at the Winter Games can be attributed to three basic factors that have nothing to do with racial discrimination. 1) There is little or no snow or ice in Africa, the Caribean, or Brazil. 2) Excluding the US, most countries where winter sports enjoy high popularity have relatively small black populations (although that is changing in parts of Europe) and 3) Areas of the U.S. where winter sports are most popular (The Rocky Mountains, Minnesota, New England) have proportionately smaller African-American populations than the rest of the country.

That said, the number of Aficans and African-Americans competing at the Winter Games is steadily rising. In 1998, France's Surya Bonaly ( a black woman) won the bronze medal in women's figure skating. In 2002, U.S. bobsledder Vonetta Flowers became the first black winter olympian to win a gold medal. This year, American speedskater Shani Davis hopes to become the first black gold medalist in an individual winter event (Bobsleigh is obviously a team event). In addition, advances in global communication and transportation are making it possible for more Africans and Afro-Caribeans to take part in winter sports. Jamaica and the U.S. Virgin Islands have fielded bobsled teams, and both Kenya and Etiopia have entered cross country skiers.

Also, the lack of black athletes at the Winter Olympics does not imply a lack of diversity. There are a great many Asians competing and winning medals in Torino. Chinese and Korean skaters DOMINATE the sport of Short Track speedskating and several Asian nations compete for medals in Loing Track. Japan consistently fields medal contenders in ski jumping, including one of the sport's all-time greats - Masahiko "Happy" Harada. Asians and Asian-Americans consistently medal in figure skating. Think of such great skaters ad Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Midori Ito.

The assertion that Winter Olympians cannot be ranked among the world's greatest athletes is also totally lacking in any sort of factual basis. Competitiors in winter sports train just as hard as atletes in what Gumbel would call "real sports". For example, people who compete in "pseudo-sport" of figure skating usually hard at work refining thier skills before most of us are even out of bed. In addition to the insane amount of hours spent on the rink, skaters also spend many hours lifting wieghts. Next time Gumbel wants to tell figure skaters that they aren't athletes, he should try landing a tripple axel.

In conclusion, the Winter Olympics are far more than a maketing ploy designed to raise ratings (they actually pre-date the mass distribution of television). This two week event gives athletes who have devoted their lives to their sports a chance to shine on the world stage. If you think about it, it's rather sad that more people don't pay atention to Skeleton, Curling, or Biathalon. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where the media bombards us with the message that certain activities are cool while others are geeky. Gumbel has it backwards, March Madness is the media circus, filled with egocentric athletes who are only in it for the glory (thought there are plenty of great athletes in basketball, too). The real sports heros are the the Speedskaters, Ski Jumpers, Skeleton Sliders, and Curlers who compete solely for the love of sport. These are the type of atletes that kids should be looking up to, and they more than deserve their two weeks in the spotlight.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

PERSON OF THE WEEK - Feb 6-12, 2006

It's late and I'm tired, so I'm not going to write a lengthy column this week. Instead, I will refer to the post immediately before this one. Jimmy Carter wins over Joseph Lowery because Lowery is not the former President of the United States.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Shameful behavior at King funeral.

I normally try to avoid personally insulting lefitist individuials on this blog, but I am REALLY ANGRY today. I had set aside this portion of my day for homework, but the news I read today got me so riled up that I had to post a short entry.

If you didn't know, Coretta Scott King's funeral was today. Instead of of respectfully honoring the memory iof Mrs. King, two speakers (Former President Jimmy Carter and Rev. Joseph Lowery) used their time to take cheap shots at President Bush (who happened to be in attendance and seated directly behind speakers' lectern!).

I would use the argument that it is not polite to publicly insult someone who is sitting right behind you, but a lot of leftist don't seem to think that Bush is entitled to the respect that they would afford to any othe human being. I would appeal to the integrity of the speakers, but they obviously believe that the laws of basic human decency don't apply if they are talking about someone as "evil" as the leader of the free world! Since so many people are willing to set aside their basic moral codes in favor of their hate of Bush, I'll try an argument that has nothing to do with the President at all...



Monday, February 06, 2006

PERSON OF THE WEEK - Jan. 30 - Feb. 5, 2006

I spent a considerable amount of time ruminating on this week's choice for Person of the Week. By far, the largest news story is the "cartoon intafada" in the Middle East (I won't summarize it, that's what the mainstream media is for). However, I couldn't isolate one leader of the event. I was about to break my own rule and give the award to the entire mob of protesters that torched the Danish embassy in Damascus when I had an epiphany. Why should I give the award to the bad guys?! (and yes, I do consider the mob "the bad guys")

I was listening to the Hugh Hewitt Show on my way home from work today, and guest host Jed Babbin briefly mentioned this man. Then I realized that the person who made the most profound statement this week was not the throngs of Islamo-Fascists torching Danish embassies. Instead, it was the man who proudly stood up for the values of his country and the free world, even as angry mob tried to burn those values to the ground. That man was Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

You see, the protests in the Middle East revolve around a fundamental misunderstanding (and disrespect for) the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of religion. When a privately owned Danish newspaper printed a few offensive cartoons, did the protesters take their problems to the newspaper? Of course not. Instead, they decided that the government and people of Denmark were enemies of Islam because they did not censor the cartoons. They wanted preferential treatment of their religious and political beliefs at the expense of the freedom of others, and Rasmussen wouldn't stand for it.

A weaker leader would have apologized profusely, a person with a lesser backbone would have pursued a a path of appeasement (and several European leaders are), but Rasmussen refused to apologize. Did he acknowledge that the cartoons were a little out of line, sure, but he also acknowledged that democracy gives people the right to be a little out of line, saying,"A Danish government can never apologize on behalf of a free and independent newspaper." This one sentence isn't necessarily a great oratory. In fact, such remarks should be heard on a regular basis from leaders of free European countries, but they're not. That's what makes Rasmussen's remark so profound. In a time when "tolerance" (which means censorship) is increasingly trumping freedom, it is refreshing to hear someone reiterate good old-fashioned democratic values.

So, for standing up for liberty, freedom, and democracy; Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is ConservaGlobe's Person of the week.

Copyright note: The photo used in the Person of the Week graphic is copyrighted by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Wikipedia, the copyright holder allows it to be used for any purpose.