Vic Wild, paying homage to his adoptive Red-White-and-Blue, gave two gold medals to Russia which if given to the United States would have tied Russia’s final tally in gold [Russia, however, would have won the final total medal count by one instead of five]. This newly-medaled Olympian, who now resides in Moscow with his Russian wife and fellow-snowboarder, bronze-medalist Alena Zavarzina, happens to hail from the true paradisiac grounds of our Columbia Gorge. His hometown of White Salmon is but a scenic 70-mile short trek from my home in Vancouver (Washington), and a frequented destination point for Sunday brunch at several of the area’s inns.
And no, Vic is no “traitor” in his hometown; people are happy and proud of his exploits and bare no grudge, nor call him a turncoat. After all, aren’t the Olympic Games, summer and winter alike, the domain of athletes, and not a symbol of jingoistic display? Well, maybe in White Salmon people think that way, their hearts combining with their brains, but unfortunately, that’s not the case everywhere. But more than partisan sick nationalism, what took place in these Games had a special effect for many of us in the US. It had to do with envy, “political envy” that is.
We always seem to cast envy as a vice, a capital sin; yet, there are times when envy is but a desire for something we feel we deserve, not necessarily as individuals but as members of an equitable, democratic society. These winter Olympics at Sochi, including both its prefacing and epilogue, have had many Americans, a majority in my count of those who regularly follow current world events, coming out of the political closet where they have been kept captive and thoroughly brainwashed.
Prefacing the lighting of the Olympic torch, the American public received for 2-3 months a barrage of propaganda belittling, denigrating, and even ridiculing the good efforts the Russians were making to mount a successful Olympiad. No, it was not a conspiracy of the American corporate media, although looking at the intensity and contrariness of what was being said, one might conclude such to be the case. But it might as well have been; and criticism for every move the Russians made, from questioning the logic in expenses incurred for infrastructure, to the security for both athletes and attendees, to any real or imaginary last minute problem, seemed intent in criticizing both the efforts and the efficacy of the Russians. It was as if the entire American media, from the highly-vocal right to the soft-spoken left, had convened an ideological peace truce combining forces to reignite the cold war. Never mind that Russia is not a Soviet republic, or that the issues brought forth had a birth in yellow journalism and not on an honest appraisal of the apparent truth.
But that early mean-spirit exhibited by much of the American press to degrade anything Russian quickly started to erode as athletes, their families, American visitors and even sports commentators now living the experience saw a much different reality. And mid-point in the Sochi Games, they started to sing praises for the host country: extraordinary facilities, evident calm and security all-around and, most important of all, friendly local people who had turned the other cheek to an unwarranted harsh criticism from the American press.
And the praise, silent but extremely visual, filtered upwards to a friendly, energetic and spirited leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin… who was seen everywhere, including the quarters of American athletes. Not a Hollywood Red Dawn-character this KGB-bred Putin; more of an archetypal leader that every country should have, if I agree with the comments I’ve received during the past few days. Almost in unanimity, with a tinge of nostalgia and leaving little room for misinterpretation, these adherents and critics of my sociopolitical thesis offered a resounding theme: Putin is all about leadership… and diplomacy.
And that’s precisely, most say, what the US has lacked in the sorry figures of the last four presidents, the two Bushes (father and son), Clinton, and the current occupant of the White House, Barack Obama.
That political envy portrayed in the comments I’ve received are echoed by much of what I am seeing being published in the last two days. Even under the formidable pressure from the Ukrainian powder keg, the consensus remains that Putin will maintain control of the situation for the benefit of Russia as well as other eastern Slavic people; even if that means a head-on confrontation with the European Union and the US. But that’s a topic requiring its own journalistic venue. Now, we are bidding adieu to Sochi, where we have experienced an outing of our own closeted political envy.
Before leaving this Winter Olympics, however, we should bring to light a last-ditch effort in idiocy two days ago by sportscaster Bob Costas, a key sports presenter for NBC, and apparent lackey-in-charge at the Sports Desk for Corporate America. His tirade was strictly self-serving, leaving a shattered image of a classless a$$hole, his words and uncalled for criticisms drown by the great success of the Sochi Olympiad.
© 2014 Ben Tanosborn
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