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09 August 2013

Boycotting The Olympics: Would The World Have Been Better Off Without Jesse Owens Proving Hitler Wrong?

'It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler... You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the twenty-four karat friendship that I felt for Luz Long at that moment.'

- Jesse Owens

There's been a lot of talk recently regarding the 2014 Olympics, Russia's codification of hatred of homosexuals, and whether the United States should boycott.  Apart from the obvious punishment boycotts do to the athletes (see the US' 1980 Moscow boycott and the Soviets' 1984 boycott of the games in Los Angeles), there is another lesson from the past that should be heeded:  The 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

According to, 'after concerns about the safety of black athletes in Nazi Germany were put to rest by the International Olympic Committee, most African American newspapers opposed a boycott of the 1936 Olympics. Black journalists often underscored the hypocrisy of pro-boycotters, who did not first address the problem of discrimination against black athletes in the United States. Writers for such papers as The Philadelphia Tribune and The Chicago Defender argued that athletic victories by blacks would undermine Nazi racial views of 'Aryan' supremacy and foster a new sense of black pride at home. In the end, 18 African Americans — 16 men and 2 women — went to Berlin, triple the number who had competed for the United States in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.'

As Andre Austin has documented in his 'Hitler's Views on Blacks':

'Hitler skips the first recorded sin in the bible of Eve taking a bite out of some fruit tree to declare race mixing between blacks and his pure Aryan white blood was 'The original sin of humanity,' (Mein Kampf, p 624).  Hitler was appalled at society allowing blacks to become a lawyer, teacher, even a pastor. He thought it is 'criminal lunacy to keep on drilling a born half-ape ..while members of the highest culture-race must remain in unworthy positions,' ( MK, p430).  Hitler thought that the Blackman shouldn’t be allowed to keep his so called 'nigger nation.  Hitler also stated: 'This world belongs only to the forceful whole man and not to the weak half man,' ( MK, p 257).

Hitler viewed the Blackman like Hollywood viewed the Blackman in The Birth of a Nation. In that woman, the Blackman eyes grows big in lust for a white woman. Hitler thought of us like a big King Kong gorilla. 'Systematically these black parasites of the nation defile our inexperienced young blond girls and thereby destroy something which can no longer be replaced in this world, (MK, p562).'

Very obviously, Adolf Hitler did not respect black people and, most assuredly, thought them incapable of competing with his Aryans.

 Jesse Owens

 Jesse Owens running in the streets of Berlin, 1936

Would the world have been better off if nations had boycotted or refused to allow their black athletes to compete?  Would not the world have lost the sweetness of a Jesse Owens proving him so wrong?  Would not the world have lost the moment where Adolf Hitler was forced to acknowledge a legendary athlete?

An older Jesse Owens pointing to where Adolf Hitler waved to him. (According to Owens, there was no handshake despite claims to the contrary in the decades since).

According to Albert Speer, the Nazi architect and chief armament procurement officer, Adolf Hitler was none too happy about Owens success in private:

'Each of the German victories, and there were a surprising number of these, made him happy, but he was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens. 'People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive,' Hitler said with a shrug; 'their physiques were stronger than those of civilized whites and hence should be excluded from future games.'

Jesse Owens not only proved how extraordinary he was, but did so in front of the racist Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, which must have made him sick inside considering his pontifications on the supremacy of the Aryan people.  Proving Hitler wrong, making him acknowledge a man he considered beneath him, and making him miserably uncomfortable was worth sending our team to the Olympics in Berlin.

Boycotting the 1936 Olympics would have also deprived two men of a very meaningful friendship... 

In the 1936 Olympics, Luz Long and Jessie Owens directly competed against one another in the long jump competition held in the were direct competitors in the long jump at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin in the Olympiastadion.

Since he had 'home field advantage,' Long gave Owens some advice.  Owens won gold.  Long won silver.

Before the entire stadium, including Adolf Hitler, Luz Long embraced Jessie Owens in congratulations on his victory and world record.

Both men became friends and maintained a correspondence for years until the outbreak of hostilities between Germany and the United States made that impossible.

Owens continued a relationship with the Long family long after Luz's death in the War.

The story of Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics also is worth remembering for another reason.  Despite the lionisation of one President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Democrats and race-hustlers are apparently ignorant of one fact.  According to Jesse Owens himself:

'I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either.  Hitler didn't snub me.  It was FDR who snubbed me. The President didn't even send me a telegram.'

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