(eng) ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, '96 Olympics [1/2]

Tom Burghardt (tburghardt@igc.apc.org)
Fri, 14 Jun 1996 10:03:01 +0200


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|| * -- RESEARCH -- * -- June 13, 1996 -- * -- RESEARCH -- * ||
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RESEARCH SUPPLEMENT
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T U R N I N G T H E T I D E:
Journal of Anti-Racist Activism Research & Education
Volume 9 # 2 Summer 1996

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CENTENNIAL OLYMPICS, ATLANTA 1996:
COUNTER-INSURGENCY GOES FOR THE GOLD

by Michael Novick

Atlanta, GA is gearing up to host the 1996 Summer Olympics,
on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the modern Olympic
Games. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by the
Atlanta Committee on the Olympic Games (ACOG), by multi-national
corporations, particularly the media, and by all levels of
government, to finance this colossal spectacle. With the
Presidential race moving into high gear this summer, the Olympics
will surely be played as a celebration of "America Resurgent:
standing tall and on the move!"

197 countries will participate and as many as 100 heads of
state will attend, led by the host, Bill Clinton. The 1996
Atlanta Olympic Games will be one of the most widely watched
events of all time. The Games represent a prime arena for
conventional politics. Taking yet another page out of Ronald
Reagan's book, Clinton will surely wring every ounce of political
advantage he can out of the Atlanta Games, as Reagan did with the
'84 L.A. Olympics. Bill, Hillary, and their daughter, as well as
V.P. Al Gore and his family, plan to attend several Olympic
events. $63 million in federal funds have been provided for
"anti-terrorist" security, and $150 million more for other
Olympics operations, such as transportation. In fact, the White
House has been heavily involved in planning for the Olympics
since before Clinton took office. The Bush regime began
participating in planning the Games in September 1990, soon after
Atlanta's selection as the Olympics site.

But the Games will be of international and domestic
political importance, far beyond the shallow media politics of
the presidential election. Faced with a massive erosion of
popular support and trust for the state and the system, and a
thinly disguised economic contraction that necessitates increased
economic exploitation to sustain corporate profitability, the
U.S. ruling elite is seizing on the Olympics as a major
opportunity to get Americans rooting for the "home team, the
greatest country on earth." Behind the patriotic hoopla, the
Olympics logo and the official corporate sponsors, moreover,
another more ominous development is taking shape. Under the guise
of providing "security against a possible terrorist threat," the
government is strengthening its police state apparatus in the
heart of the Black Belt south and a center of upwardly mobile
Black "bourgeoisie" and downtrodden Black masses.

George Orwell, whose book "1984" entered popular
consciousness to become synonymous with the police state, once
wrote that "international sport is like war without the guns."
This August in Atlanta, the guns will not be absent. As more than
10,000 Olympians take the field, they will be outnumbered better
than three-to-one by private and public law enforcement and
counter-insurgency personnel from ACOG, local jurisdictions, the
Army, Coast Guard, National Guard, CIA, FBI, Secret Service,
Immigration and Naturalization Service and secret police from
countless foreign countries. This ratio is even higher than that
for the L.A. Olympics, which established the high security
benchmark. The estimated security budget for all this is upwards
of $200 million. Unlike in 1984 in L.A. however, when security
operations were highly publicized and promoted, the developments
this year are more covert.

Enjoying tremendous prestige and respectability, with
hundreds of millions watching on T.V. worldwide, the Olympics
provide the perfect rationale for this mobilization of repressive
power. The security preparations for the Olympics do not arise
out of a momentary crisis, only to fall away when the danger has
passed. They fit into the long term trend in this country and in
Europe towards more repressive mechanisms of state control. The
development of domestic repression is a growing preoccupation for
all the imperialist countries and their client states.

Despite the talk of economic recovery, the global economy
upon which the empire depends is in perpetual and growing crisis.
Colonies and neo-colonies are seeking liberation, and cracks and
strains are appearing within and between the advanced industrial
countries. Across Europe, popular movements are resisting
suppression, and fascist threats once thought long dead have
reasserted themselves with a vengeance in both eastern and
western Europe, no longer divided by the cold war. In the U.S.
there is a stuttering increase in progressive activity, arising
in response to the reactionary thrust of mainstream politics and
to the depression-level conditions faced by colonized people. The
international campaign to free Mumia Abu Jamal, the resurgence of
organized labor, the resistance to immigrant bashing and to the
anti-affirmative-action backlash are all markers of this
development. At the same time, the surprising growth of a threat
of armed activity from the right, in the form of militias,
secessionist movements and the forces of a "leaderless Aryan
resistance," has given the state a convenient pretext for
intensifying repressive measures in the name of "anti-terrorism."

In the face of such challenges, all the western
"democracies" are becoming increasingly militarized, adopting new
laws to suppress dissent and prevent the growth of contradictions
that could enhance anti-imperialist struggle among their
populations. Last month, for example, for the first time in 13
years of Conservative rule, the British opposition Labour Party
decided not to oppose the annual renewal of the so-called
"Prevention of Terrorism Act." Several of the party's
backbenchers, as well as the deputy leader of the Liberal
Democrats, expressed dismay at the lack of proper debate over the
new measures. The five-point package aimed to bring
anti-terrorist laws in England into line with those in Northern
Ireland. The most controversial measure is the power to stop and
search pedestrians in designated areas when there is a likelihood
of a terrorist attack.

The Olympics provides only one pretext for such measures in
the U.S. Additional hundreds of Federal and military agents have
been deployed to San Diego and Chicago, where the Republican and
Democratic Party Conventions respectively are to be held in
August. As tens of millions of dollars are spent on security to
protect the Republican Convention, a stone's throw from the
increasingly militarized border, and the Democratic Convention,
fearful of a repeat of 1968, the police have begun practicing
large scale riot control and containment operations against
demonstrations. Police have carried out several mass arrests this
past year in San Francisco, Minneapolis and elsewhere of
protesters demanding freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The Olympics, financed by monopoly corporations, will
attempt to raise patriotic fervor and militaristic nationalism to
a fever pitch. If the U.S. can sell Twinkies, McDonalds, and
Buicks to the huge audience watching the Games, why not sell the
elimination of habeas corpus, or a crackdown on militias, too?
The FBI SWAT team or the Los Angeles police anti-terrorist unit
that were created for the last U.S.-based Olympics, in Los
Angeles 1984, are still with us today. It is apparent that the
police machinery being set up for the Atlanta Olympics and the
Conventions will also remain with us long after the last athlete
and delegate have departed from the spotlight.

FROM THE BATTLEFIELD TO THE PLAYING FIELD: A LITTLE HISTORY

The Olympic aura as a supposedly apolitical celebration of
human sports endeavor is belied by its revival, at the turn of
the last century, as a means to inculcate European and U.S. youth
with a more martial spirit. The modern Games were begun by a
Frenchman, Baron de Coubertin, who was concerned that French
youth were neither sufficiently trained physically nor motivated
politically to fight for their empire. Since then, virtually
every Olympiad has been either the scene of sharp conflict, or
suspended because of World War. The Soviet Union was excluded
from the time of the Russian Revolution until 1952 and the
Peoples Republic of China was similarly banned for decades. In
1936, Hitler used the Munich Olympics as a stage to promote Nazi
racialism throughout Europe.

In the Americas, the history of the Olympics is no less
political. South of Los Angeles, the Mexico City Olympics of 1968
was the scene of a bloody massacre and mass repression. The
revolutionary upheaval which swept through Latin America in the
1960s emerged in Mexico, causing great concern not only to the
Mexican bourgeoisie but to the U.S. as well. More than five
hundred Mexican students and members of the independent left --
possibly as many as 2000 -- were machine-gunned to death in the
Tlaltelolco Plaza de las Tres Culturas while demonstrating prior
to the start of the Games.

That same year, Black athletes in the U. S. threatened to
boycott the competition entirely in protest against the brutal
repression of the Black liberation struggle going on in this
country. Black Olympic medalists Tommie Lee Smith and John Carlos
expressed the outrage of many, when they raised their fists in
the Black power salute during the playing of the Star Spangled
Banner. For this they were immediately ejected from Mexico.

In 1972, the Palestinian revolution came into the
international arena by taking hostage a number of Israeli
athletes who were also members of the Zionist armed forces.
Israeli, German and U.S. counter-insurgency squads attacked them,
precipitating a massacre. African nations boycotted the 1976
Olympics as part of the worldwide effort to isolate racist South
Africa and those nations which support it. Jimmy Carter fired the
opening salvo of a new cold war in 1980 by refusing to send the
U.S. team to the Moscow Games. The Soviet Union returned the
favor boycotting the subsequent games in 1984.

In spite of all this, the Olympics continue to enjoy a
reservoir of respectability that provides the U.S. government an
unequalled opportunity to get people to swallow increased
repression in the name of protecting the "integrity" of the
Games.

ATLANTA: 'NEW SOUTH' OR OLD CONFEDERACY?

What is the U.S. state so concerned about protecting in
Atlanta? The city, corporate headquarters of the so-called "New
South," is home to Coca-Cola, the best known brand-name in the
world, and to the many tentacled operations of Ted Turner,
including Cable News Network and numerous sports and
entertainment franchises. But the city is a microcosm of the
contradictions of the empire, of poverty amidst plenty, and is
crucial to the future of Black/New Afrikan people in America.

According to the publication Conscious Rasta Perspective,
Atlanta media mogul Turner is a dyed-in-the-wool Malthusian. His
global ambitions are apparently matched only by his fear of a
Black planet. In a 1991 interview with Audubon Magazine cited by
CRP, Turner confessed that he spends much of his time worrying --
"worrying about the population explosion, worrying about poverty
and the Third World, worrying about deforestation, worrying about
the oceans..." During the same discussion, Turner announced that
"there are just way too many people on the planet," and said he
longed for a world in which people had "only one child" and where
world population would eventually drop from the present 5 billion
to only 250 or 350 million! More importantly, he told the
publication that he hoped to turn his vision into reality
"through mass communications."

Asked by a reporter what how he understood the term
"American cultural imperialism," CRP reports, Turner replied, "I
hate it...But I'm part of it." He boasted that he "gave $200
million away last year" for "population and environmental stuff,"
and explained: "The world is too crowded. That's simple enough.
It's getting more crowded all the time." In November of 1995, the
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Turner planned to put
$350 million more into his five year old Turner Foundation on top
of nearly $150 million he had already donated. The purpose of the
foundation: to give grants to "environmental and population
groups."

But such plans for depopulation apparently apply only to
poor people of color in the Turner scheme of things. To
commemorate the 1992 "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro, Turner
proudly signed a pledge promising to "help save what is left of
our natural world in its untouched state" and to "add no more
than two children to the Earth" -- only to face the embarrassing
public acknowledgement that he himself already has five adult
children -- Beau, Rhett, Jennie, Laura Lee, and Robert Edward IV.

BLACK LIBERATION IS THE TARGET

Despite its claims to cosmopolitanism that the Olympics are
meant to reinforce, Georgia still reflects its position at the
center of "Dixie," the homeland of white supremacy. The
Confederate stars and bars are still incorporated into the state
banner. But Atlanta is also a Black capital. It is the home of
the Martin Luther King Jr. shrine, the mecca for thousands of
college educated Black youth for the spring "freak-nik" weekend,
the headquarters of the Center for Democratic Renewal, an
anti-racist organization rooted in the civil rights movement of
the '50s and '60s and the anti-klan network of the '70s and '80s,
which is currently leading the national campaign to uncover the
origins of, and put a stop to, the wave of church arsons, many
definitely Klan-related, that have been terrorizing Black
congregations across the south.

In fact, while the white supremacist militia forces provide
a convenient and politically palatable pretext for a security
crackdown, as in the case of two Georgia militia members busted
on charges of stockpiling pipe-bombs, it is in fact the forces of
Black liberation and masses of the Black community who are the
true targets. But the targets are capable of counter-attacking,
using the Olympics as an opportunity for a political offensive of
their own against the state and white supremacy.

On July 27, amid all the Olympic hoopla, Atlanta will be the
site of a national mobilization of the forces of New
Afrikan/Black liberation. A rally for New Afrikan (Black
People's) right to self-determination, featuring national and
international leaders of the liberation struggle, will be held on
that date at 5:00 p.m. at the Southwest Community Center, 1444
Lucille Ave SW, 1/2-block west of Langhorne St. in Atlanta. For