'68 Olympics Salute Shouldn't Be Glorified

By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2008 11:43 AM CDT
Tommie Smith, left, and John Carlos accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs Awards on Wednesday July 16, 2008 in Los Angeles.    (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
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(Newser) – Last week ESPN honored athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, famous for their  ‘black power’ salute at the ’68 Olympic games, with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the network’s ESPYs award ceremony. LA Times commentator Jonah Goldberg outlines what he considers the highly dubious implications of the award, which he says "rests on an inch-deep nostalgia and the triumph of celebrity culture."

The the lionization of Smith and Carlos contradicts not only the the fundamental non-political ideals of the Olympics, Goldberg writes, but glosses over the Black Panther call for armed revolution. “In today's culture, is it even worth trying to remind people that the black power salute was, for those who brandished it most seriously, a symbol of violence—rhetorical, political and literal—against the United States?”