The Atlantic magazine writer Jemele Hill launched an attack this week on pro golfers Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson for agreeing to play in a January tournament in the oppressive nation of Saudi Arabia. She also accused President Donald Trump and other Republicans of hypocrisy for lashing out at the NBA and China two months ago, while remaining silent about Saudi Arabia's atrocities.
"Recently, the National Basketball Association faced a torrent of criticism from several notable Republicans, including President Donald Trump, for supposedly prioritizing its business relationship with China—a repressive foreign dictatorship—over free speech and other American values," Hill wrote.
"But strangely, that kind of outrage hasn’t been directed at the professional golfers, including the superstar Phil Mickelson, who plan to play at an event next month in another repressive country: Saudi Arabia."
In October, the Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for freedom protesters in Hong Kong, and China, the league’s number two market, demanded he be fired. The Lakers' LeBron James and other NBA luminaries drew criticism for tepid responses to the Chinese communists.
However, Florida's U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, called China's strong-arming of the NBA “disgusting” and said the league “is more interested in money than human rights.” President Trump mocked two of the league’s top coaches for fearfully “pandering to China." Hill said that indignation was conspicuously lacking among conservative politicians when Mickelson and other PGA Tour stars announced that they will play next month in the Saudi International tournament:
"The host country, like China, has an abysmal record on human rights. According to Amnesty International, the kingdom executed 110 people in 2019 alone for various levels of political dissent. But, like many of the NBA’s critics from a couple of months ago, Trump has been silent about the participation of Mickelson and other American golfers."
Hill admitted Mickelson has received some criticism, but claimed it's mild compared with the vitriol directed at James after his "cringeworthy" comments calling Morey "misinformed" for supporting Hong Kong freedom protesters. James was called a "coward" and an "an “embarrassment.”
"Had James or any other NBA player embraced money over moral responsibility as boldly as (golfer Dustin) Johnson or Mickelson did, the castigation would have been severe and unrelenting," Hill complains. The relative minor attention given these pro golfers’ decision to play in Saudi Arabia "only proves just how fake and disingenuous the outrage directed at the NBA actually was." Furthermore, Hill wrote:
"The China controversy was just a convenient tool used to taunt the NBA because several of the league’s biggest stars have excoriated Trump and been outspoken about the social injustices that African Americans suffer all the time. When the president chimed in, he made sure to belittle NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, because both have used their high public profiles to disparage the president on several occasions. China’s move against the Rockets gave Trump license to retaliate against his own critics."
The real issue for Trump and other Republicans problem is that prominent sports figures have dared to exercise their right to free speech at home, Hill went on:
"Because there are no political points to be gained, the professional golfers who will play in Saudi Arabia next month don’t have to worry about their integrity or patriotism being questioned. They can just shut up and play golf."
And now the rest of the story that's so well ignored by Hill.
James has earned millions of dollars from shoes produced by exploited sweat-shop workers in China, and it paid for him to swallow his tongue on that nation's atrocities. He also previously employed Hill to narrate his "Just Shut Up and Dribble" documentary, so she's done very well financially by him.
Hill's pal and former President, Barack Obama (whom she had visited in the White House), famously bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia. I could not find a word from her on record about Saudi Arabia's human rights violations when that shameful event happened.