Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hitler did not snub Jesse Owens

The lead story on Page 1 of the San Jose Mercury News says:
John Lysak, the Bay Area's oldest former U.S. Olympic athlete, ... you can shake the affable 93-year-old hand that once shook the hand of Jesse Owens - unlike, say, the hand of Adolf Hitler, who snubbed Owens, the great American sprinter. It happened at the 1936 Games in Berlin.

Hey, you can read about it in the history books. Or you can talk to Lysak, who was there in the stadium. He was taking a break from his kayak competition to watch some track and field.

"I saw it happen," Lysak said of the infamous Olympic moment.

Hitler walked down from his seat to participate in the ceremony after Owens had won the first of his four gold medals. But after Hitler warmly greeted the German athletes, he ignored the African-American who was the finest runner on the planet.

"Afterward," Lysak said, "I ended up on the same ship back to the United States as Owens. I asked him about it. He told me that the snub didn't hurt his feelings because as a black man, that kind of thing had been going on his whole life. He'd gotten used to it."
The story is false. Adolf Hitler shook a few hands on the first day of track and field competition, and none after that, at the request of Olympic officials. Owens won his first medal on the second day, and was treated as warmly as any other athelete. You can read about it here or many other places.

About a week ago, the newspaper announced on Page 1 that Microsoft was definitely going to take over Yahoo. The paper needs some fact checkers.

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