A thought on the Olympics and Patricia Schroeder

I am not a big fan of women’s gymnastics. I think I was soured when I first saw  Nadia Comăneci. She was just  a child, dressed like an seductive adult and looking at her gave me a JonBenét Ramsey feeling: sort of a cross between feeling slightly perverted and dirty and feeling slightly superior for not feeling even more than slightly perverted. The movie Little Miss Sunshine captures it as well as anything I can think of. It is not that the seductive look is an accident, it is the point.

So, while Michele sat down to watch the  women’s gymnastics, I washed the dishes. Then Michele would say something like Wow, you have to see this, it is incredible. And it was and after a couple of trips back and forth – and the dishes were finished – that I sat down to watch the Women’s Team Gymnastics. To my eye, Gabby Douglas was the best but they were all superhuman. They all did tricks that, if Batman had done them in The Dark Knight Rises, it would have made the movie seem less realistic (I am 95%  sure that there were no Computer-generated imagery [CGI] during the actual Olympic  event).

Gabby Douglas seems older, more womanly, less child-like, than Nadia Comăneci did in 1976. Or, maybe I am just older. Eeither way, it didn’t seem as prurient. In seeing a picture of the awards ceremony, I was struck by how our gymnastics team looked liked what I want to believe America wants to be. It reminded me of a speech I once heard by Representative Patricia Schroeder, an outspoken women’s rights and minority rights advocate.

Schroeder had gone to India on some official business, at this point, I don’t remember what the official business was but because it was official she was provided with an Air Force plane. As she told the story, as a sort of air Force RF, her ground crew was made up of all minorities (counting women in this context as minorities). After she got back from what ever she was doing with her India escort, her plane was serviced and standing tall. Her India escort took one look at the crew and said something along the lines of That is why America is the greatest country in the world, all those different people working together as Americans. No other country in the world can do that. 

I think that Indian was right, what makes us great is our diversity.



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