For those hoping the Beijing Olympics won’t be politicized, it’s too late. If the relay of the Olympic torch is any indication, this year’s summer games are going to be filled with acts of protest. Today, the flame was extinguished twice by protestors as it was carried through Paris. Both times, Olympic organizers relit the torch with backup flames also lit by the flame in Olympia, Greece.

Large protests also met the flame in London on Sunday. While it would be nice if we could condemn China’s human rights record without dishonoring the symbols of the Olympic games, it’s a fine line. We can either ignore the games or we can use them as an opportunity to speak out against China’s continuing oppression of its people as well as its immoral foreign policy. I don’t think extinguishing the Olympic flame is helpful but lining the streets with protestors is important.

The torch is scheduled to pass through San Francisco, California on Wednesday. We’ll see if Americans react with similar defiance. The city, which is no stranger to activism, is preparing for large protests.

Update: The torch relay through Paris has now been canceled due to the protests.

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