In the spring, on the steppes outside Ulaan Bataar in Mongolia, thousands of people gather to witness a wild 20- mile childrens’ horse race.
Now U.N. bureaucrats want to force the kids to wear helmets. Nabetz of New Mongols, a Mongolian- American blogger (?– he grew up in Montana, but has relatives in Mongolia) so good he goes instantly to the blogroll, has many pungent things to say, and I’ll quote him at length:
“Naadam, one of the world’s oldest games festivals, recently ended for this year. One western journalist, Oliver August of The Times (London), finds something to complain about. The children jockeys don’t wear helmets. Here’s a bit from his article, “It’s the world’s longest race, and child welfare is last – as always” (um, by the way, why is this article called “news”; shouldn’t it be “opinion”):
“…. Unicef, the international children’s agency, has now called on the Mongolian Government to make helmets mandatory. “We have strong reservations with regards to the racing because it poses a threat to the health of the children,” a spokesman said”.
(Nabetz):” “There’s a lot I could say. But has this guy ever been on a horse? Does he know that nomad kids start riding before they can walk? They’re practically born on horses. But Oliver August knows better than they. And so do does UNICEF. They want helmets for the racers. This is only a 20 miles race and lasts only a few minutes–but a infinitesimal fraction of the time and miles that the kids have and will spend on horseback as part of the family livelihood. Does UNICEF want kids to wear helmets when they’re herding the family sheep, too? When they’re riding out on the steppe to visit friends? What about the kids who ride camels? They might fall further, no? Should they have to wear a safety harness, too?”
[ I might add: how do they think the kids GOT there?–SB]
(Nabetz): “This is the way it should be. The Mongolians just recently got out from under a system in which people’s lives were controlled down to what you did, what you read, what you thought, how long you lived. It was a system called communism. It’s over now, and now the Mongolians are living freely and easily as they did since time out of memory. If this horse-mounted culture wants to start wearing helmets, it’s up to them. It’s their country.
“The story ends with what must be a sad ending for the meddling “child welfare” people, but it’s a beautiful ending for the proud Mongolians and freedom loving people everywhere:
“The thought of government intervention is anathema to most nomads. Property rights are unknown on the grasslands, as are fences or signs on the few roads. The Government is absent from their lives and always has been” “.