Looking the other way always comes with some price. The Macmillan dictionary defines it as “to deliberately ignore something bad that is happening” and to “to turn your head so that you are not looking at someone or something.”
Tiger Woods is less concerned with antitrust violations and the sophisticated agreements about competition and monopolies than broader concerns for human rights for those murdered and incarcerated by unjust foreign rulers. Woods dominated the game of golf and was a monopoly himself as a 15-time major champion.
Golfer Greg Norman recently revealed to Fox News, “Tiger Woods turned down an offer from the Arab Super League that ranged from $700 to $800 million.” Tennis World reported that the offer was “returned to the sender by Woods, who accused those who left the PGA Tour of ‘having turned their backs on the top American men’s circuit that led them to be the players they are today.’”
ESPN reported that Woods was critical of players who ditched the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Past major champions have all been enticed by LIV Golf offers to the new tour with guaranteed contracts reportedly worth between $100 million and $200 million.
And for many businesses and sports figures, looking the other way has become the norm on human rights. Sadly, even for our own government. When President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last month, much attention was given to a fist bump with Muhammad Bin Salman. Yet a second look at that image shows the lack of decorum of an American leader against an Arab monarch on the same level as hugging the Queen of England. The buddy shake of 2018 between Muhammad Bin Salman and Vladimir Putin was more revealing of an actual friendship.
While Europe and America were busy demonizing, banning, and deporting Muslims and Arabs, leaders in the Middle East sought out alliances with China and Russia. Biden’s visit to the Middle East was political theater, especially when the Saudis and other Middle East press depict America as poor, backwards, and racist. It’s an odd feeling to be had. The U.S. government has failed to negotiate or seek diplomatic solutions to the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, instead expanding military spending. Belligerence and brinksmanship only lead to war and expand human suffering.
Yet as an American Muslim there are other troubling developments on the horizon. The arrest, detention, imprisonment and even executions of political prisoners in the Middle East demonstrate disrespect for the rule of law. We cannot look the other way in times of war. We have to explore all diplomatic solutions. We cannot be satisfied by a lousy fist bump for a eye-popping drop in gas prices.
Tiger Woods can still school golfers and even the American president on human rights and the law.
Nadia Ahmad is a law professor based in Orlando and is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Security, Race and Rights.