Saturday, April 13, 2013

We certainly can't let a bit of repression get in the way of a race

Stop me if we've been down this road before but the repressive government in Bahrain has launched raids to detain opposition activists prior to the annual motoring circus known as Formula 1 coming to town.

Last year the army, backed up by Saudi arms and American money, attempted to crush the revolt in the days leading up to the race leading for calls for the FIA to cancel the race. Ah, but the love of the filthy lucre was too much for Bernie Ecclestone and his cronies to pass up on and so they put on their dark sunglasses and looked the other way as much as possible and had a grand ol' time hanging out with the uber-wealthy set.

Once again those in charge of the Formula 1 franchise couldn't care less about a little repression here and there - just so long as it doesn't disrupt their little race. At least former World Champion Damon Hill has given the matter a bit of thought (even though he appears loathe to rock the boat too much).

Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is housed in Bahrain and so the US government, despite its claims to be fighting for greater freedom and democracy around the world, has no problem with a bit of repression now and then.

I guess it shouldn't be unexpected given that those involved in the world of motorsport tend to lean toward the right. A good many of the drivers in Formula 1 came from wealthy families who bankrolled their expensive little hobby as they grew up. The team owners were exceedingly wealthy and had to have some serious coin to deal with the massive cost of replacing equipment on a regular basis.

Over the years Formula 1 marketed itself as having the best drivers in the best cars on the world's best racing circuits. And you couldn't possibly have the commoners getting tickets to sit and watch so the bosses jacked the ticket prices to the stratosphere so that only the truly wealthy could afford to tag along with the road show.

Add this all together and you come up with a sport that has much more in common with the repressive regime in Bahrain than it does with the folks out on the streets fighting for a voice. Is it any wonder the powers-that-be don't care about a little bloodletting here and there?

After all, the series ran its races in plenty of other repressive states over the years including Franco's Spain, the generals' Argentina and Brazil just to name a few.

FIA has no problem taking public money to put on its traveling circus around the world. Considering that money could have been used for other purposes that would have benefited more people, race organizers should be a little bit more attuned to what's going on in the streets.

The race only serves to benefit the ruling elite of Bahrain. The Bahraini government (and FIA) want the world to see an antiseptic race course with lots of money being flashed around by pretty people. Having to put up with those annoying folks fighting for democracy would only serve to spoil the show.

Anyway, they've got to get ready for the Chinese Grand Prix coming up later this year.

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