No, I’m not claiming that President Obama had anything to do with planning the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics. What I am claiming is that the world-views of Obama and the man who did plan the ceremony have much in common – namely, leftism.
Recall Obama’s recent speech to business leaders:
If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
Supporters of the president object that he was referring to teachers who taught the business person, and to those who built the roads that the person and the customers used to get to the business. But every sane person knows that we all were helped by our parents, our teachers, our relatives, our friends, our co-workers, and the guy who works for the phone company. Every sane person knows that we all depend on the fire department and the police to protect us, the paramedics to assist us, the military to defend us, and the department of sanitation to haul away our trash.
In this very loose sense, nobody ever does anything alone. Such a broad view was summed up with typical humor by the late astronomer Carl Sagan:
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Sagan was an agnostic, so he didn’t say “create,” but it amounts to the same thing. In the final analysis, we must all be grateful to the Creator for our very existence. But this is not what the president meant.
What he did mean, and his world-view, were illustrated perfectly by the opening ceremony for the Olympics. Much of the ceremony was typically British – quaint, charming, and just a bit disorganized and eccentric. But what was significant was what wasn’t there – the inspiring skirl of Scottish bagpipes playing “Scotland the Brave,” the moving sounds of a Welsh choir singing “Men of Harlech,” and the rousing lilt of Irish fifes and fiddles playing “Garryowen” or “Saint Patrick’s Day in the Morning.”
No, nothing that could be remotely construed as nationalistic, much less martial, was allowed. At the Beijing Olympics four years ago, countless Chinese young people moved mechanically in an impressive – even frightening – display of unity and conformity. The tacit message was: “Watch out, world; there are over a billion of us, and we’re totally unified behind our Leader.” The tacit message from London is: “No need to watch out, folks; our spirit departed some time ago, and isn’t expected back.”
The ceremony included a prominent segment showing the doctors and nurses of Britain’s National Health Service pushing around patients in their beds. This segment honored the achievement of the Marxist ideal of equality of care, as opposed to quality of care. Inadvertently, the act provided an accurate picture of many of the antiquated NHS hospitals – a huge ward crowded with beds utterly lacking in privacy or amenities.
In addition to its manifold problems, the British system produces the lowest survival rates in Europe for most cancers. In contrast, the “broken” American system produces the highest survival rates in the world for most men’s and women’s cancers. The problem with “equality” is that often it means lowering the ceiling rather than raising the floor.
But what was most significant was the lighting of the Olympic flame. As in prior Olympics, the torch was lit in Olympia, Greece, where the games originated. Following a circuitous route, it wound up at the Olympic stadium at the climax of the opening ceremony. As in prior Olympics, there was much speculation as to who would be honored to run the final lap with the torch and light the cauldron.
My choice would have been Roger Bannister, the first person to break the four-minute mile. He summed up his philosophy of winning as follows:
The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.
That doesn’t sound much like “You didn’t do it yourself,” does it? And Bannister summed up his philosophy of life like this:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
That doesn’t sound much like “We’re all down here together,” does it?
Unlike prior Olympics, however, the speculation was in vain – nobody ran the final lap and lit the cauldron. Instead, the torch was used to light a number of smaller torches, which were carried by young athletes who had yet to achieve anything of note. The tacit message was: “We no longer honor individuals who have done great things; instead, we honor favored groups for simply showing up.”
And unlike prior Olympics, a single torch-bearer did not climb a long flight of steps to light a cauldron elevated above the stadium, so all could see and admire it. Instead, the young bearers all bent down and used their small torches to light a cauldron on the stadium floor, which then elevated itself. The tacit message was: “We all work together, and as a result things just happen by themselves. No individual is allowed to climb higher than the others; we all remain together at floor level.” This reminds us of the Asian proverb that the nail that sticks up will be hammered down.
The organizer of the 2012 Olympics is film director Danny Boyle. As one reviewer observed, Boyle’s Britain is “one that is tolerant, multicultural, fair, and gay friendly, and holds the principles of the welfare state stoutly at its heart.” Indeed.
So there you have it. In Britain, a leftist director opens the Olympics, which used to hold dear the ideal of “Higher, Faster, Stronger,” but he replaces it with the ideal of “We’re all here together on the stadium floor.” And in America, a leftist president leads our country, which used to hold dear the ideal of freedom to achieve whatever our God-given abilities and hard work allowed, but he replaces it with “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Yes, we did build that. What did Obama and his leftist pals build, except dependency on government, and welfare states that are collapsing even as we speak?
But wait – we may be mistaken. We thought you didn’t do that yourself, other people did it for you was Barack Obama’s notion of how people succeed in this world. But it may just be his generalization from the way he succeeded.
Perhaps that is why we were never allowed to see his SAT scores. Or his transcript from Occidental College. Or his transcript from Columbia University. Or his transcript from Harvard Law School. Or what he wrote as president of the Harvard Law Review. Or his work record at the law firm where Michelle Obama was his supervisor. Perhaps the “other people who really did it” include Bill Ayres, Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright, Rod Blagojevich, and George Soros.
Perhaps other people did it for you is not Barack Obama’s philosophy of life, but merely his autobiography.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.