One cheer for Spielberg

While Steven Spielberg’s decision to quit as an artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics is welcome, Richard Just at The New Republic’s Plank blog makes an important point:

While condemning China for its actions in Sudan, Spielberg made no mention of China’s actions anywhere else–as if Darfur were the only reason one might think twice about serving as a propagandist for the Beijing Olympics; as if, were it not for Darfur, he would be happy to continue working with a country that “has much to offer the world” and whose “international contributions will grow in the years ahead.”… This is an authoritarian regime that has long repressed internal dissent–and… is growing even more brutal as the Olympics approach. Surely, even if Spielberg knew little or nothing of China’s actions in Sudan, he was aware that Chinese citizens lack basic rights that we in the west take for granted. Surely he knew that China is desperate to portray itself as a far more humane place than it really is. Surely he realized that promoting the Olympics meant playing a role in this ugly farce. Yet, even now, Spielberg implies that he is only troubled by China’s link to Darfur. Well, that’s a good thing to be troubled by, and, on the list of Beijing’s sins, the destruction of Darfur certainly ranks high. But, not only have China’s leaders betrayed the people of Darfur, they have also betrayed the people of China.