do you even history, yo…

So, in an effort to try and be more regular in blogging, I have decided to pick a certain day on which to do so. Thanks to the never-ending-idea-machine that is Amma Marfo, who uses Marfo Mondays to get posts in, I am going to be writing on Wednesdays.  Yes, I know you are thinking “Pettigrew Wednesdays doesn’t rhyme at all, omggggggg.” But, here’s where Amma saved the day.

Wednesday=Humpday –> Grumpday –> Grumpday Humpdays, because if there is anything that I am, it is grumpy.  So, prepare yourselves.

Grumpday Humpday Polar Bear thanks to Eugene

Grumpday Humpday Polar Bear thanks to Eugene

 

As a history undergrad, when I come across comments that so obviously ignore history as a window to what is happening in our present and what may come in our future, I get a little peeved.

MRW someone brought up, as an anti-gay joke, the newly published book (2005) on Lincoln potentially being a gay in my 400 person intro American History course and my prof going off for like 20 mins on the yes and no historical and cultural evidence. That, and the reenactment of the Burr Hamilton duel in class, changed my academic life forever.

So, understandably, this statement from the ceremonial Mayor of the Olympic Village in Sochi got under my skin (found originally via Towleroad):

“I have never seen (this) at any Olympic Games and I would call on the people who are going to protest, that it doesn’t make sense,”

 

1968 Mexico games ringing any bells?

The story of this photo is pretty well known, the very visual protest of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, both American athletes, both giving light to the grave racial injustices in America that only a platform like an Olympic medal platform can provide.  With such a powerful image rightfully dominating this picture and history, what may not be seen is  the story of the silver medalist, Peter Norman, from Australia.  Norman actually suggested (or gave them a pair of gloves, based on which story you read) they share a single pair after Carlos forgot his gloves back at the Village.

See the badge over the Australian crest on Norman’s jacket?  That was an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge borrowed off an American rower right before the medal ceremony, to show solidarity.

Smith and Carlos were sent immediately back to the States, banned from future Olympic games, but solidified in history. Norman went back to Australia with a caution from the Australian Olympic Committee and became a pariah according to family, friends, and historians on his story.  Many say his involvement kept him from making another Olympics despite qualifying for them.

I don’t doubt we’ll see some sort of protest in Sochi, and I have to wonder what will happen around GLBTQ rights in the country during the Olympics as new atrocities, videos, and evidence surface every day. I would not doubt we will see some sort of silent protest, most likely something from Principle 6, using the IOC Charter against itself.

And, I have to ask, why is that a bad thing?  I disagree with the message that the IOC tries to put over the games of no politics, no protest, one world coming together.  I’m all for amazingly awesome end goals, but to ignore the fact that when Smith and Carlos were to return to America, they were returning to a country that treated them as second class citizens and they were not safe in, is too much.  To ignore the violent vigilantism and complete government blind-eye to Russian citizens threatening and carrying out violence against innocent gay Russians and not expect protest or show of some solidarity is wrong.  We cannot celebrate the human spirit and human achievement fully until we ensure that every human is able to embrace wholly their own spirit (and I’m the one blaming the IOC for utopian values… haha).

We could also get into the fact that in many cases, the Olympics aren’t good for a host city or host country, with infrastructure set up and then left to rot, or financial schemes to support the games that dismantle progress for that nation in the short and long term.  Montreal just paid off their main stadium.  Atlanta is still a hot topic in regards to how much they commercialized those games just to pay for them.  We are talking about that in Boston now, as there is a push to put an application in for 2024 as a host city.  It’s an interesting discussion, but I hope we inform ourselves on what kind of history and future we are asked to embrace for that chance.

In other news, I’m really, really, really excited for some curling.

zomg yes.

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