Thank you Greg Norman for giving me an excuse to once again write about Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was brutally murdered inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey.
Norman is a successful professional golfer who is involved with a Saudi-backed golf organization. Recently, Norman made comments about the Khashoggi murder, seemingly chalking it up as a “mistake” and pointing out the good things, the advances the Saudi government has done in recent years. A little murder, where the victim was carefully dismembered, no more than a faux pas.
“Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn by those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward,” Norman said at an event interview. “This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights, talk about it, but also talk about the good that the country is doing in changing its culture.”
Why would Norman make his comment? Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, the Saudi-backed, team-based, professional golf league. There is a lot of goodwill, and money at stake. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, pledges to award $250 million in total prize money over eight golf tournaments this summer. Hello!
No wonder Norman is downplaying the carefully planned and executed (no pun intended) execution. In the world of big dollar golf, murder is like hooking a shot out of bounds. Take the penalty stroke and move on.
“‘We’ve all made mistakes,’ according to the Times of London. He said that about a murder. But this has been the attitude of Norman, Mickelson and their ilk all along. They can’t defend Saudi Arabian atrocities, so they try to act like the atrocities are not the point. They want you to think it’s about golf.” – Sports Illustrated writer Michael Rosenberg
A little background on our lineup.
Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist who fled Saudi Arabia in 2017, suffering backlash for criticizing the Saudi government and rulers, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi led several news organizations and was a contributor to the Washington Post. He entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 regarding documents for his upcoming marriage. He was never seen again.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a son of King Salman and holds many key leadership office in the Saudi government. He is the government. The rule of the Crown Prince is complex. He is accused of being quite ruthless in cracking down on dissent and potential power brokers, even in his own family. He has a security force that operates at his sole discretion, both inside the country and internationally. He is also credited with reforms, including easing restrictions on women (driving, owning their own passports), and lessening some religious restrictions.
Greg Norman is a Hall of Fame golfer, and head of his own brand empire worth millions of dollars in addition to endorsements and golf earnings, golf course design and his other business investments. He’s a self-made rich guy which is admirable; so why has he abandoned morality to apologize for an authoritarian regime that took revenge against a man who was an irritant, not a threat? Norman is tone deaf, too used to rubbing shoulders and being impressed by corporate CEOs, oligarchs and tyrants.
In the aftermath of his comments, Norman has been soundly denounced. Yes, we all make mistakes, but there is no forgiving severe character flaws that show a skewed view of human life. Maybe Norman and the Saudis really deserve each other, they seem to think alike.
If you think I’m being unfair to Norman, here is a Sports Illustrated commentary about Norman and fellow LIV golfer Phil Mikkelson’s greed.
The real focus of this issue should be on justice for Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis held some high ranking government officials and foot soldiers responsible, but that was a shame. The officials were acquitted, and those sentenced to death were later pardoned.
Not only is there no justice for Jamal Khashoggi, there are those who wish to dismiss the truth. Life is not a game, Mr. Norman.