Olympics Opening Ceremony: Liberty Forgotten

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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Somewhere along the way we were treated to a glimpse of men in military uniforms – a fitting memorial to the British armed forces who lost their lives in the two world wars, but a memorial, nonetheless, that carefully avoided seeming to celebrate the Allied victories in those wars.  (Mustn’t offend the losers!)  In the same way, nowhere in the whole spectacle was there so much as a shadow of a suggestion that there might have been a good side to the British Empire.  (Mustn’t offend all those former colonies!)

Boyle did manage to squeeze in a mini-tribute to British children’s stories – complete with flying Mary Poppinses.  But it was dismaying to see Britain, which gave the world the very greatest of national literatures, commemorating, as if they were the apogee of its cultural history, the cheesy pop music and lowbrow TV shows of the last couple of decades while ignoring the likes of Chaucer and Milton, Burns and Scott, Keats and Browning.  (Presumably Kenneth Branagh’s recitation of a few lines from The Tempest was intended to be the obligatory nod toward highbrow British lit, just as the presence of Berners-Lee was apparently the obligatory nod toward the extraordinary contributions of British science and technology.)

Although the international media were nearly ubiquitous in their praise for Boyle’s efforts, there were a few criticisms, here and there, of the show’s political slant.  Andrew Gilligan, in the Telegraph, noted wryly that the ceremony had perhaps marked the NHS’s “final transformation from a healthcare system into a religion.”  But the demurral that made the most headlines was probably that by a Tory MP, Aidan Burley, who, on Twitter, described the ceremony as “leftie multicultural crap” and “[t]he most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?”  (I had made much the same observation on Facebook, noting that not even the People’s Republic of China had included a paean to socialized health care in its Olympic opening ceremony.)

What was striking was the tsunami of moral outrage that greeted Burley’s honest expression of his opinion: one Labor MP called Burley’s tweet “anti-British”; another called on Cameron to “demand a full apology from Aidan Burley immediately”; a fellow Tory MP ungrammatically averred on Twitter that “us Londoners are rather proud of the diversity of our city”; and, as the Mirror reported, “Downing Street moved quickly to distance Prime Minister David Cameron from the comments, with a senior source saying simply: ‘We do not agree with him.’”  A chastened Burley hurriedly walked back his thoroughly legitimate criticism, saying he’d been misunderstood and assuring the BBC that “we all love the NHS” and “that he agreed multiculturalism ‘should be celebrated.’”  Sigh.  No real surprise there, I suppose, although it’s always useful to be reminded just how rigidly enforced the lockstep devotion to multiculturalism, socialism, and the welfare state is nowadays on both the left and the right in Britain –  notwithstanding Cameron’s high-profile declaration, early last year, that multiculturalism had failed.

How utterly, depressingly at odds all this is with the very best part – the heart, the essence of Britain’s historical legacy: namely, its noble and hard-won heritage of individual liberty, a liberty that has grown and broadened steadily over the generations, and that was enhanced significantly by the three great Reform Bills of the nineteenth century (which, of course, were not so much as alluded to by Boyle), but that is now, alas, endangered and eroding, thanks to the very multiculturalism to which Burley, at the end of the day, was made to feel compelled to declare his allegiance.  For all the imaginative brilliance of Boyle’s opening ceremony (which did indeed include a great deal that was beautiful and moving), that heritage of liberty – which has inspired people around the world to fight and struggle to breathe free, and which is still sorely envied in many of the not-quite-free nations whose athletes paraded into the stadium on Friday night – barely seemed to be on Boyle’s radar.  Shame, that.

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  • Stephan

    Danny Boyle’s reeducation ceremony should have included a segment illuminating humanity about sexual diversity.

    • southwood

      Why should it ? Sexual diversity contributed nothing to Britain's greatness, indeed it is contributing to its decline.

      • David R

        True…just like its destructive effects all over the world. How sad when one lauds moral decadence and wishes to "illuminate" what should be shamefully hidden.

        • southwood

          Just consider this, David :

          Same sex marriage will, ironically, open the door for the Muslims to demand polygamy. I mean, it's obviously going to lead to such demands. What a can of worms these short sighted people (Obama, David Cameron etc.) are opening.

          • waterwillows

            Right you are.

            Perversion is not able to build anything. It can only bring ever more perversion. Until the nation is so steeped in perversion, that only destruction remains as the mercy to the people.

      • aspacia

        Turing, a homosexual, broke the Nazi Enigma Code.

        • southwood

          Is that it ? Fantastic. What about the 1000s of heterosexuals who contributed to Britain ? What about Philby, Vassal and Blunt and other homos who were traitors to Britain ? But really we are discussing homosexuality versus normal sexuality. Normal sexuality was the legal and accepted form of sexuality up through the centuries when Britian's greatness advanced. Since sodomy has gained legitimacy it has led to AIDS, the introduction of perversion being taught in schools, rights for transexuals, lowering of the age of consent, and ever more demanding claims by homosexuals to the point where now they are on the verge (hopefully they will not achieve it) of getting same-sex marriage. Next it will be forcing churches to carry out the marriages as they have recently achieved in Denmark. Ancient Greece delined as a nation through homosexuality. Western nations are in decline now too.
          http://www.frc.org/brochure/the-top-ten-harms-of-

          • aspacia

            There are a number of famous bisexual and homosexuals who have contributed to societies. Julius Caesar was one. My point is that they often do contribute to society. The ancients Greeks seldom had romantic relationships with women and preferred men.

            In the British Theater bisexuals were commonplace.

            Here is a down and dirty from Wiki, often unreliable, but this one is footnoted: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gay,_lesbian….

            AIDS started in the heterosexual area around Lake Victoria and stems from the Green Monkey Bite: http://www.avert.org/aids-timeline.htm

        • mlcblog

          So?

    • mlcblog

      Yeah! they could have paraded different physical forms of sexual involvement as the gay parade displays in San Francisco!! What next?

  • harrylies

    Briyain is not perfect, but people do not go broke if they get sick. Britain abolished slavery in 1833, withoout listening to madmen like Robert Lee and starting a civil war. They believed that God or nature made eveeryone equal.

    • dave

      Well I had a hernia a few years ago and I work as an Antiques dealer. I'm always lifting heavy bits of furniture. My GP told me I would have to wait 6 months to a year to be seen by a junior Dr who would operate. He advised me to go private and I did at a cost of £2000. I could not afford to wait 6 months- 1 year otherwise I would have gone broke.

    • Stephen_Brady

      Robert E. Lee was a madman? News to me …

    • mrbean

      That is started with the Magna Carta and followed by the Renaissance, a cultural movement that spanned the period roughly from the 14th to the 17th century destroying most of feudalism and the the church state. This inspired John Locke and hisTreatise on Human Understanding, leading to Jefferson's writing of the the Decalration of Independence with the almost proper definition of individual rights as political and not economic as this sickening regurgitation of Marxism depicted in the opening ceremony. Ahhh yes the evil capitalists in their silk top hats while the smoke stack pollute and the workers unite. Baarffffffff Gaaaggg.

    • Walter Manning

      And what we have here, is a perfect example of public education today. Can't spell, and is completely clueless about history. Lord help us all.

    • mlcblog

      our level of health care is far superior to anything in the world, and I am just talking right now not of who or how many are able to use it but of the creativity and inventiveness and pioneering of our doctors. For instance, childhood leukemia fatalities have been reduced by about 45% over the last 20-30 years and this is a base for much continued research that the doctors and private concerns love to do and foster with their efforts. Under govt domination/provision, a lot of this incentive is lost, stultified. Creativity is shut down. I am mentioning just one facet of what we lose with the govt taking over the health insurance industry.

  • Trev

    In that idyllic British farmyard on display at the opening ceremony, there were 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens, 3 cows, 2 goats, 10 ducks and 9 geese.

    But no dogs or pigs.

    I wonder why…

    • zikalasa

      Trev, you caught it – I would assume that since dogs and pigs offend muslims, that is why they were not part of the opening scene. Inch by inch they are claiming our lives. It is our own fault if we allow it.

  • Amused

    Correct criticism on all points . But getting a country's flag wrong ? C'mon now that's really dumb , no matter whether it be a country nobody particularly likes or not . Profuse apologies are in order .

  • Asher

    All in all pretty disappointing. Great talent and sportsmanship, but Socialism somehow has a way of rearing its ugly head, the opening ceremonies were boring, too much about multi-culturalism, and not Freedom of Spirit or the Spirit of the competition in good measure by all countries.

  • mlcblog

    Thank you!! I was aghast and dismayed and in a state of disbelief when I watched this unfold. Have only got to the glorious National Health Service part, so am braced to continue my viewing on our DVR but will now be more likely to Fast Forward. Help! let me out of here. (You did help.)

  • say_no_to_libs

    thank you Bruce for this excellent review and analysis!

  • mlcblog

    Upon reading the full article, (nicely done) it seems to me that the Olympics used to be proud and noble, but then so did Greece when the first Olympics took place and they had all those gods. Bye bye, Miss American Pie?

  • flowerknife_us

    Before long everyone will win a Gold Metal. This way all the Country's will feel better. The sameness and group think of the collectivists will need to get rid of the last vestiges of organized Nationalism. There couldn't be all the violence at Soccer matches overseas because it is the last acceptable venue to register pride as a Nation. Within the Union of Oneness that is.

  • Philo Vaihinger

    How on earth did you end up writing for this rag?

    What happened to you?