Costas' remembrance of Israeli athletes killed by terrorists in Munich will redeem Olympics

NBC's Bob Costas is doing something that the International Olympic Committee is unwilling to do: He's offering a moment of slience for the Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Games in Munich. ASSOCIATED PRESS
NBC's Bob Costas is doing something that the International Olympic Committee is unwilling to do: He's offering a moment of slience for the Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Games in Munich. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted: July 27, 2012

I WILL FOREGO my moment of silence to praise NBC's Bob Costas for planning his personal moment of silence Friday night out of respect to the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Games in Munich.

Costas was only 20 when it happened, but he clearly remembers what happened, who did it and why. Stoking those memories reveals a lot about where we (the U.S., the media, the West) is today.

Here's what happened, described by renowned sports ace Red Smith in the New York Times:

"It was 4:30 a.m. when Palestinian terrorists invaded the housing complex where athletes from 121 nations live and shot their way into the Israeli quarters." Smith clearly answered both the "what" and the "who." The answer to "why" is found in the fact that those Olympians were Israeli Jews. (Almost one-quarter of Israelis are not Jews.)

Today, the New York Times copydesk would strike Smith's use of "terrorists." Most of the media, and many politicians, will not call mass murderers "terrorists." Massaged in the parlor of political correctness (and in fear of offending the Muslims who are moved to murder people — random people — over cartoons), the incarnation of evil have become "militants," or "extremists," or "fundamentalists." Why not "itinerant goat-herders"? Why the fear — pervasive in the West and the media — of hitting the nail smack on the head? Using "terrorist" to describe those Muslims who use terror as a tool does not defame all of Islam any more than using "pedophile priests" defames all of Christianity.

Why did the Obama Administration, to its discredit, mangle reality and English by referring to the 2009 massacre of 13 Americans at Fort Hood as "workplace violence"? A fist fight is workplace violence. A murderous major with a "Soldier of Allah" card tucked in his wallet is a terrorist.

The Israeli government requested a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies to commemorate the athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists. IOC President Jacques Rogge obliged them with a surprise moment of silence, in the athletes' village, with about 100 people attending, days before opening ceremonies. A colonoscopy has more visibility. Rogge said that the opening ceremonies were "not fit to remember such a tragic incident." What would make it not "fit"? Because it would remind a worldwide audience of the ugly reality of terrorism that today requires Britain to send more troops to the Olympics than to Afghanistan?

Back to Red Smith and his 1972 coverage: "More than five hours later, word came down from Avery Brundage, retiring president of the International Olympic Committee, that sport would proceed as scheduled."

Mr. Brundage, meet Mr. Rogge.

The Olympics is where you're supposed to check your narrow nationalistic impulses at the door and exult in the glory of pure amateur sport — except for the professional athletes (basketball), underage athletes, doping, bribery, vote-swapping and the unrepentant flag waving. OK, so it can't live up to all its ideals.

But 11 athletes, for the first and hopefully the last time, were murdered in the Olympic Village and remembering them in the opening ceremonies, before the world, is somehow not fit? In the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, a moment of silence was offered for a luge athlete killed in a practice run.

But for the Israeli Olympians, no. Who might be offended?

That's not hard: Nations that breed and praise terrorists. Mustn't upset them.

The moment of silence is not really an Israeli issue, it's not really a Jewish issue. It's a matter of telling terrorists they won't win, that civilization will push back, and will remember with affection and sadness the athletes, sent in peace, who were murdered by people — terrorists — with no sense of decency.

That's what Costas' moment would do. He deserves praise, as does NBC, because some people, lacking the decency gene, might complain that Costas will "politicize" the Olympics. Actually, he will redeem them.

Email stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. Join Stu on Facebook. For recent columns: philly.com/Byko.

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