Just a follow-up on my Shingetsu News Agency column of this week. When I was talking there about the roots of the Olympics, I made the case that the Games are less about athleticism than about national demonstrations of power, particularly in the vein of racial superiority. In my summary of their history, I wrote:
SNA: “When the Games were resuscitated by aristocrats in 1896, in spirit they were still grounded in contemporary attitudes equating national strength with physical strength. Thanks to the racialized social theories in currency at the time, including Social Darwinism and eugenics, the Games soon became a public demonstration of the social engineering of supermen, which depended on how racially ‘thoroughbred’ an athlete and a society was. It’s not difficult to draw a straight line from the geneticist attitudes promoted by the prewar Olympics to The Final Solution.”
Those attitudes can still be felt not only in the bad-habit national medal tallies, but also in the athletes themselves. Consider how Igarashi Kanoa, US-born resident of Huntington Beach, CA, who won Silver for Japan in Surfing, decided to depict himself. As I wrote for SNA above:
SNA: “Igarashi indicatively promotes himself on his Olympics website entry in classic Olympic ‘thoroughbred-ism:’ ‘I have so much support here in the USA and America will always be part of who I am. But I’ve grown up with a lifestyle and in a generation where things can seem a bit borderless. And so representing Japan felt like a solid, comfortable decision. My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.’
“Good for his bloodline, I guess. But for mongrel non-medalists like Osaka Naomi, as the New York Times noted, Japan’s social media pounced, contesting her Japanese language ability, her standing to represent Japan, and even her Japaneseness…”
Again, you can self-identify with and play for whatever country will have you. But a person like this who has benefited from both systems does not deserve respect for this throwback-Eugenicist attitude, and it should be challenged appropriately in public. Doing so at Debito.org.