On April 22, Bahrain is to host a Formula One race. Citizens of Bahrain, human rights activists, and fans worldwide will be boycotting the race. Why?
1. It is not safe, on or off the track. The tiny country is simply not safe for fans, drivers, and the support crew. Protestors and security forces constantly clash and both sides have sustained casualties (although the protestors have suffered disproportionately more). With tear gas, Molotov cocktails, and live rounds being used, collateral damage is inevitable. Formula One spends millions every year to make the sport safer for its participants. Why ruin an almost perfect safety record by inviting inevitable injuries, or worse?
April 11, 2012
April 10, 2012
3. He's our SOB. Franklin Roosevelt famously described ruthless Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza as "a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." The reason Western governments and media have been relatively silent about the atrocities and horrors happening in Bahrain is because it is our ally. The United States Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain as a counterbalance to nearby Iran. If what has been happening in Bahrain in the past year happened in less friendly countries like Libya or Syria, the West would have imposed sanctions by now and would be clamoring for air strikes.
April 8, 2012
4. China is bad, but right now, Bahrain is worse. An oft-made argument is that if we boycott Bahrain, we should boycott the Chinese Grand Prix as well. Many of Formula One's venues are guilty of human rights violations, some more egregious than others. As bad as China is in terms of its human rights record, the situation in Bahrain, at this moment, is relatively worse. In Bahrain, not China, nearly a quarter of its entire population has participated in anti-regime protests. In Bahrain, not China, doctors were deemed criminals for treating wounded protestors. In Bahrain, not China, the same royal family has been in power for more than a century. We have to draw the line somewhere. And today, that line is drawn at Bahrain.
April 7, 2012
5. Not boycotting is just as political. Many assert that Formula One should stay out of politics. The reality is that going forward with the race is just as political of an act as boycotting it. By participating in the race, you are implicitly supporting the government and condoning the human rights abuses. If both options are political, you might as well be on the right side.
April 6, 2012
6. It is just a game. Ultimately, this is all for entertainment. It is the fourth of 20 races this season. The championship is not on the line. People do not need to get hurt or lose their lives over a game.
April 2, 2012