What is the point of taking history class?
This is a question that my middle school history teacher would often ask his students on the first day of school. The answer was always “so that we can learn from the past, therefore, not to make the same mistakes in the future.”
“It’s amazing how frequently history repeats itself,” he would say.
In 1931, the International Olympic Committee chose Germany to host the 1936 Summer Olympics. Two years later, Adolph Hitler and his villainous Aryan supremacy theory came to power.
In 1935, the Nazi regime announced the “Nuremberg Race Laws.” These laws prohibited Jewish people from attaining German citizenship and forbade them from marrying or having sexual relations with people of “German related blood.” The laws extended the definition of a Jewish person from an individual who held specific religious beliefs to someone who had multiple Jewish grandparents.
Jewish athletes were also prohibited from competing on the 1936 German Olympic team.
The Nazi regime’s vitriolic acts of anti-Semitism troubled enough Americans to spark a movement in favor of boycotting the 1936 Olympics in Germany. Among the most fervent supporters for a boycott was the Amateur Athletic Union — which was composed of Olympic athletes.
In response, the American Olympic Committee dispatched some of their members to visit Germany and assess the status of German Jewish athletes. On their visit, members of the American Olympic Committee asked Jewish athletes if they were being provided a fair chance to compete. The Jewish athletes, who were asked these questions while in the presence of the Gestapo, assured the American Olympic Committee that they were being treated fairly.
In December of 1935, the American Olympic Committee and the Amateur Athletic Union met in New York City to vote on whether to boycott the 1936 Summer Olympics.
The final vote was 58 to 55 ½ in favor of attending the 1936 Summer Olympics.
Hitler would use the Olympics as a propaganda tool to reaffirm his power domestically and distract from his nefariously oppressive regime.
Hitler’s subsequent actions would result in the deaths of 75 million people.
It’s unlikely that the United States’ decision to attend the 1936 Olympics would have changed the course of history, but it was a mistake to give international validation to a regime that had clear oppressive practices.
There is a disturbing contemporary analogous comparison to the decision to attend the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany.
In 2015, the International Olympic Committee chose China to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Two years later, the Chinese Communist Party would begin sending ethnic minorities to concentration camps where they would be tortured, sterilized and sometimes killed.
The ethnic minorities targeted by the Chinese Communist Party are called the Uyghurs. Go ahead and Google what’s happening to the Uyghurs in China. Because people in China can’t.
The Uyghurs are a primarily Muslim ethnic population in Northwest China. There are roughly 12 million Uyghurs in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Previously making up a majority of the people in the Xinjiang region, the recent migration of Han Chinese to the Xinjiang region has caused the Uyghur population to dip below 50% of the population.
The Han Chinese constitute 92% of China’s mainland population. In the late 20th century, the Chinese Communist Party began sponsoring mass migration of Han Chinese to the Xinjiang region — where a majority of the population was made up of Uyghurs. This was allegedly a coordinated attempt to eradicate Uyghur influence in the province.
In 1997, the Chinese Communist Party began taking violent action against the Uyghur people. During Ramadan, Chinese officials executed 30 Uyghurs in the street for alleged disloyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. These executions lead to demonstrations by the Uyghur people, which ultimately led to more executions.
In 2017, the Chinese Communist Party began abducting Uyghur people from their homes and sending them to concentration camps. Three million Uyghurs have been abducted and detained within these camps. Inside them, the Uyghur people are tortured, women are sterilized and people are murdered. In the Uyghur jurisdictions of Xinjiang, the population has decreased by 84% in the last six years.
Much as the Nazi Regime practiced Aryan supremacy, the Chinese Communist Party is currently practicing Han supremacy.
In January, the U.S. State Department declared that China’s actions against Uyghurs constitute crimes against humanity and are to be labeled genocide. Yet, even after determining that China is committing genocide against ethnic minorities, the United States seems intent on competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Much like Nazi Germany, the Chinese Communist Party will use the opportunity of hosting the Olympics to reaffirm their domestic power and burnish their image internationally. The United States must not give the Chinese Communist Party the same opportunity they gave the Nazi Regime in 1936. Instead, the U.S. must amend that mistake and stand firm against the same ethnic cleansing that took the lives of over 6 million Jews during Hitler’s reign in Nazi Germany.
The United States and its allies should band together and refuse to compete in the 2022 Olympic games if they’re played in China. A global rebuke of China’s grotesque human rights violations may not be the silver bullet solution, but it would be a tangible step in the right direction.
The Chinese Communist Party is only able to commit crimes against humanity within their own borders because of the strong monopolist control they have on their domestic power. Because of the oppressive practices of the Chinese Communist Party, domestic critics are unable to destabilize the Party’s power. Change and condemnation must come from external voices.
If the United States and its allies were to boycott the Olympics, that would offer a monumental admonishment of the Chinese Communist Party. The global denouncement of the Chinese Communist Party could have the potential to destabilize their monopolistic control of China and their related human rights abuses.
The Chinese Communist Party is a villainous and oppressive regime. The United States can solidify its position as global advocates for freedom and liberty by taking a strong stance against the worst human rights abuse in the world today.
If the United States decides to attend the 2022 Olympics in China, they will be complicit in giving the Chinese Communist Party the same validation they gave the Nazi Regime in 1936.
It’s amazing how frequently history repeats itself.
Tripp Grebe is a Sophomore studying Political Science with Certificates in Political Economy, Philosophy, and Economics. Do you think the United States should boycott the 2022 olympics? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org