Thursday, January 30, 2014
Even for the morally superior crowd, security trumps all in Sochi
Imagine working your entire life to get somewhere, and feeling entirely at risk once you got there.
That's the conundrum facing Olympic athletes ahead of the Winter Games in Sochi, where the threat to personal safety is unlike anything in Olympic history. The massacre in Munich in 1972 and the 1996 Atlanta bombing are bloody precedents, but those attacks took security forces completely by surprise. The threat in Sochi is overt and palpable, especially in the immediate aftermath of two suicide bombings that killed 34 people in Volgograd, which were only the latest incidents in a long and blood-soaked Islamic jihad against the Russian federation.
The upside of President Vladimir Putin's iron-fisted rule is that security in Sochi will be unprecedented. Even liberal western media pundits who decry Russian society's overwhelming support for Putin's anti-gay propaganda laws are happily placing themselves in the bosom of the same sinister security apparatus that enforces those laws. Moral convictions can be surprisingly flexible when personal courage is put to the test.
The irony, for better or worse, is that Sochi will probably be the safest Olympics since the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, and we all know who was running THAT show. Police states aren't usually nice places to visit and you definitely wouldn't want to live there, but in rare circumstances, they can provide cold comfort.