Friday, November 16, 2007

Dissent around the table, around the world

When you visit other people's countries, have you ever wished you could reassure your hosts that you aren't on board with contemporary US foreign adventures? Very possibly, if you are part of the 20 percent of U.S. residents who even have a passport. Apparently that's how the women pictured above felt. The sign scrawled on a menu reads, "we did not vote for Bush."

They had just won an international bridge tournament in Shanghai; they were proud and happy; they wanted to share their moment with their international friends.

“What we were trying to say, not to Americans but to our friends from other countries, was that we understand that they are questioning and critical of what our country is doing these days, and we want you to know that we, too, are critical,” Ms. Greenberg said, stressing that she was speaking for herself and not her six teammates.

The controversy has gone global, with the French team offering support for its American counterparts.

“By trying to address these issues in a nonviolent, nonthreatening and lighthearted manner... “you were doing only what women of the world have always tried to do when opposing the folly of men who have lost their perspective of reality.”

New York Times
November 14, 2007

The U.S. Bridge Foundation was not amused. Sponsors, including the Chinese government, might withhold contributions. The offending sign makers are threatened with suspension from federation events, including the World Bridge Olympiad next year in Beijing. The federation demands an apology and more.

The federation has proposed a settlement to Ms. Greenberg and the three other players, Jill Levin, Irina Levitina and Ms. Rosenberg, who have not made any mollifying statements.

It calls for a one-year suspension from federation events, including the World Bridge Olympiad next year in Beijing; a one-year probation after that suspension; 200 hours of community service “that furthers the interests of organized bridge”; and an apology drafted by the federation’s lawyer.

What's a bridge player to do when her federation wants to police her political views?

What's an empire to do when women just want to be friendly?

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