I thought that our political leaders had become so jaded that they just did not care about anything anymore. If they were not angry about presidential assassination programs, starting wars without their approval, prosecution of whistle blowers, torture, suspension of habeas corpus, and corporate and financial larceny on a grand scale, to name just a few things, then what possibly could they get mad about? But then along comes an issue that unites and rouses them to great heights of bipartisan indignation.
What could achieve this when major scandals failed? It is that the uniforms for the US Olympic team were made in China! Yes, that is all that it took. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is almost beside himself at this outrage, saying, “I am so upset. I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.” He was joined by leading politicians from both major parties in condemning this act, some of whom even made the claim that requiring the uniforms to be made in the US would dent the unemployment problem here. Yes, we all know that making uniforms for a few thousand athletes for a quadrennial event is a source of long-term employment.
What makes this posturing even more ridiculous is that the US government does not contribute any money to the US Olympic program so they are venting over how a non-government entity is spending its own money. Furthermore it was not quite clear whether they were objecting to the uniforms being made in China specifically or being made outside the US. I suspect that if they had been made in Canada, there would not have been the same level of anger.
But that was not the only stupidity on display. Fox News as usual outdid itself by focusing on the fact that the US uniforms had berets and there was much snickering about why the US was adopting the effete headgear associated with France, the country of “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”, instead of something more American-looking like baseball caps or cowboy hats, until it was pointed out to them that the US Army special forces wore green berets and in fact are often referred to as the Green Berets.
You would think that people whose shtick is to routinely invoke nationalistic tropes to score cheap political points would be aware of jingoistic popular culture and its icons. Even I had heard of John Wayne’s 1968 propaganda film The Green Berets and Sgt. Barry Sadler’s 1966 hit song The Ballad of the Green Berets which played many times over the radio in Sri Lanka, for crying out loud.
What surprised me was that the US uniforms (designed by Ralph Lauren) cost over $1,500 apiece. I wonder how much the Chinese workers who actually stitched them got. I suspect the uniforms were made in appalling conditions by workers who were paid no more than a few dollars for each. If so, that should be the real outrage.
Incidentally, the above photo was produced by the Ralph Lauren company and is being used widely in the media. Would it have killed them to have an equal number of men and women in it or at least not have the woman be so much shorter than the men? As it stands, she looks more like a mascot than a team member. Harry Reid would have done better to be outraged by that.