Now’s the time to feel patriotic, so we’re told. And what a time to feel patriotic. If the Olympic opening ceremony showed us anything, it’s that Britain is soo multicultural. The country that celebrates all race and religion. An opening ceremony consisting of horse-drawn carriages, Suffragettes, Queen Bond and the Windrush. Such pride. Such multiculturalism. Something “for everyone”, as director Danny Boyle said.
Well, not everyone.
70 sheep, 12 horses, ten horses, nine geese, three sheepdogs and three cows. 32 Mary Poppins’s, 204 national teams and 10,000 volunteer performers. 12,956 props, 15,000 square metres, 27,000,000 pounds sterling and 1,000,000,000 viewers.
But not one minute for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered in the 1972 Munich Olympics, despite the 120,000 signatures petitioning for it.
267,000 people in the UK class themselves as Jews, according to the 2001 consensus. Where was the minute of silence for their slain?
Aidan Burley, the conservative MP sacked last year for attending a Nazi-themed stag party, who railed against Danny Boyle’s “multicultural crap” must have breathed an even greater sigh of relief when a German dignitary and honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), seemed to perform a Nazi salute, multiple times. The same IOC, by the way, who refused point blank the one minute silence. And much like the refused one minute silence, not much has been offered in terms of an explanation or apology. ‘Phew’, Burley must have thought. ‘We’re still as prejudiced as ever.’
It’s all very well to put on a big and extravagant show to prove how diverse you are. But at the end of the day, if 120,000 signatures and desperate pleas by the widows of the slaughtered is still not enough to warrant a minute of silence for 11 Olympic athletes murdered in cold blood, then all the pomp and ceremony is just that; pomp and ceremony without any real substance beneath the surface.
Many are holding on to the Olympics with every fibre in their body, quick to point out that we should feel honoured to be part of this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ cultural orgy. But if this is the best we can do multi-culturally, once-in-a-lifetime is once too often.