Mike Hosking: Why shouldn't Ryan Fox work in Saudi Arabia?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Monday, 4 February 2019, 7:53AM


Golfer Ryan Fox and singer Mariah Carey seemed to have incurred the wrath of many and suffered perhaps a slightly uncomfortable weekend.

Not a couple of names normally uttered in the same sentence, but both have associations with Saudi Arabia.

He's in a tournament as we speak, and she's been holding concerts there. The upset of course is that, according to some, Saudi Arabia is a social or moral or political pariah and what we need is mass boycott.

What we need is the Ryan Foxes and Mariah Careys shunning them and their money. For the argument goes, they are being used by the kingdom to promote normality, international participation and a certain amount of branding. Ryan Fox of course has not been singled out per se - the argument applies to everyone in the field.

Of course the upset and angsting is futile, not to mention at least in part hypocritical.

Do we all agree with what Saudi Arabia does and how they conduct themselves in certain spheres and aspects of life? No we do not.

But if that is the criteria for boycott and isolation then we would be doing very little and never leaving home. The globe, rightly or wrongly, is festooned with activity that many don't condone. Golfers, singers, and you and I, are making not one jot of difference to any of it.

A lot of it - not all - is cultural, meaning just because we don't like it, doesn't make it wrong. We also seem to forget that in isolating out the famous people for attention and some sort of action, we place upon them a role most did not ask for - that of activist.

Ryan Fox said he has a job to do, and he does. Fox isn't a civil rights campaigner, or a political operative. He's a golfer. And he goes where the work is.

It would seem remarkable, would it not, that we expect Fox or Carey to make a point to the Saudi Arabians when the president of the United States doesn't. Most countries don't, and most counties don't because of the cold, hard simple truth about the way the world operates.

Saudi Arabia has money and oil and influence - and the more of those things you have, the more you can get away with it. Oh nations make noises - but in full knowledge that the noises mean nothing they just look good.

They're seen to be doing the right thing, even if in reality it's nothing tangible. And if we are to wander down the track of righteous indignation at those who we don't agree with then travel to China is off, holidays in Hong Kong are gone, trips to South Africa are a no-go - how long do you want that list to be?

If it's good for Fox and Carey surely it must be good for us? How could you sit in Denarau all those years while the Fijian people were oppressed?

It's easy to ask of others what we wouldn't - and don't - of ourselves, isn't it.

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