Aired Feb. 15, 2014 on Dave’s Gone By. Watch on youtube: http://youtu.be/gkJUPHw8uGY
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of February 16th, 2014.
Is there anything less interesting in the world than the Winter Olympics? I’m sorry, but everyone in this half of the hemisphere is sitting at home, running the oil burner, looking at the grim skies and just waiting for the first signs of spring. The last thing we wanna do is turn on the TV and see more snow. If I’m on the couch in my footy-pjs, sipping a cocoa and skimming the Talmud, and I wanna take a break, I’m gonna put on “Baywatch,” maybe the Golf Channel, the 80th re-run of “Point Break.” What I don’t want to see is athletes bundled up from head to tuchas, zhoozhing down mountains of snow, and then talking to reporters where you can see their breath coming out of their mouths and congealing in the air. If breath could spell, it would spell out, “Help! Hypothermia! Why didn’t I take up parasailing?”
Still, winter or otherwise, the Olympic idea is ideal: have countries from all over the world, even ones with political differences, put their very best amateur athletes on an international stage, and let’s all enjoy playing and watching. How can you beat it? Of course, the distance between the Olympics’ idealization and its ideation is like the distance between Democracy and Congress. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
The Olympics were supposed to be an oasis from the world’s evils. But half the time it’s become a petri dish where the bad guys hog the microscope. In 1936, Hitler hosted the Olympics in Munich as a way of proving the superiority of the master race. Yes, it was wonderful that the American schvartze Jesse Owens ruined his day, but the fact that they held the Olympics at all was a decision so questionable, even the guys who designed the Titanic had to be shaking their heads going, “What the fick were they thinking?”
And then in 1972, it was back to Germany – because what better place to espouse peace and racial equality, right? And what a perfect worldwide stage for Arab terrorists to go kill all the Israeli athletes. Olympic officials were confronted with a decision: stop the games, do a big funereal tribute, and hunt down the animals responsible – or wear black for a day and keep the games going. Guess which one they chose?
And so, ever since then, the Olympics have proved a lightning rod for political disputes and threats from groups that put religion before human rights – which is pretty much the entire Muslim world. As of this writing (and speaking), the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, have been on high-terrorism alert. The Islamists were kind enough to give us an early heads-up on the violence – by bombing a train station and a trolley in Volgograd back in December. So thoughtful of them. They murdered only 34 people – which for them is an appetizer – and a week later, the Russian police killed the guy responsible. But no question, this was a yellow stickie posted on the calendar of the Olympics reading, “Hello. We’re Jihad. We drank your orange juice and broke a lamp. We’ll be back soon with the destruction of the entire Western World. Your pal, Mohammed.”
So we want to commend the Russians and Vladimir Putin for taking a no-tolerance, “we will bury you” approach to security at the Sochi games. Unfortunately, the pat on Putin’s back has to stay above the waist, because he is also responsible for a recent Russian law that bans the promotion of non-traditional lifestyles. In other words, you can’t teach kids under 18 that it’s okay to be gay, or lesbian, or transsexual, or a furry. Russia’s deputy prime minister defended the law saying it’s a way to protect children. But then why not simply make a law that says, “Don’t touch children?” If you have trouble with the wording, ring up Dylan Farrow. But Putin’s law is more insidious, it’s branding the lifestyle of 10-to-15 percent of the population as abnormal, unhealthy and dangerous to you – unlike such healthy activities Russian teens are exposed to at a young age, like vodka shots, smoking and poverty.
After the glory years of Gorbachev, sadly, Russia has moved backwards towards its old police-state days, but so did we under Dubya Bush. The church’s last Pope was in the Hitler youth, but the new guy is preaching love and tolerance. Kind of like the four – er, five Olympic circles, the world turns and turns, so maybe the next dictator after Putin will keep his shirt on and his hands off.
Until that time, it is with mixed feelings that I wish the 2014 Winter Olympics well, with good sportsmanship, fair judging, no terrorism and lots and lots of curling – oh, I love curling. As far as homosexuality, well, the opening ceremonies featured thousands of toned athletes in tight costumes with bright rainbow colors, waving flags and parading around to loud thumpy music and confetti. What could be more gay than that?
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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