When golf giant Tiger Woods made his public apology recently, he said he let a lot of people down. Personally, I cared very little about his personal dalliances and extracurricular activities. With an economic and political crisis afoot in this crumbling empire, it seems that this salacious celebrity gossip is nothing more than that--a media-created distraction to help us forget how bad things really are in America. This is a sideshow, like the gladiator games in Rome, or feeding the Christians to the lions.
A personal matter, the subject of Tiger's apology really was not intended for the general public, though it was made before an audience of millions. Rather, his plastic, controlled, manufactured pseudo-press conference, no doubt the creation of some well-paid public relations firm, was intended for the people closest to him. And more importantly, it was meant for his corporate sponsors who have backed out and bailed out on him, or those who are fixin' to do so. This is about dollars.
So, Tiger didn't owe me an apology, because I had no expectations of him. But Tiger did disappoint me in one regard. He failed to apologize for his failure to put human rights and human dignity ahead of his profits. To be more specific, plans are still in motion for Tiger Woods Dubai, an expansive Woods-designed golf course and luxury home development in Dubai. The $100 million project is being built in Dubailand, the adult playground of the Mideast. Mansions and villas in the 580-acre resort are reportedly selling for $12 million to $23 million, and Woods plans to build a 16,500-square-foot mansion overlooking his course.
The problem is, Dubai is built on slave labor, and Tiger has had nothing to say about it. And I don't mean slavery as in hundreds of years ago. I mean slavery as in over the past thirty years, including now. The home of the world's tallest skyscraper, Dubai is a sparkling city of excess built by slave labor from the Third World, including the nations of the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines and Africa. Companies lure these workers with a promise of making a ton of money, and in the end steal their passports and their money as well. Migrant workers work 12 hours a day, six days a week in hot temperatures. And they earn an average of $175 a month, with no minimum wage, and some making as little as $8 a day, according to Human Rights Watch. I know, how dare I spoil other people's fun, and stand in their way as they try to earn a dishonest living on the backs of slaves, as dictated by the free market.
And you'd think that your average high-profile celebrity athlete or entertainer, often in tune with social and political causes, might have a low threshold of tolerance when it comes to slavery, much less people who profit from the practice of slavery. Never mind looking at it from the glaringly obvious moral perspective, just look at it from a PR point of view for a minute. But when that high-profile person is himself a descendant of slaves, the expectations are even higher. So the question that we must ask Tiger is, exactly how much money do you need, man? Were there no black history lessons in your childhood? Did all of those African-American heroes before you make their sacrifices, and endure the racial taunts, the hostility, the beatings, and the threats to life and livelihood, for this?
A person who would take money from people who have used slave labor, look the other way and not ask questions is truly a slave--a slave to his riches and to his corporate masters. Such a person is a billion-dollar monster, created by a mixture of extraordinary talent, excessive media hype and unprecedented corporate promotion.
But then again, maybe Tiger's statement about his devotion to the Buddhist faith is more than mere empty rhetoric. Perhaps he will see the light and make a correction to this previously unaddressed character flaw. But I wouldn't hold my breath.
David A. Love is an Editorial Board member of BlackCommentator.com, and a contributor to The Progressive Media Project and theGrio. He is a writer and human rights advocate based in Philadelphia, and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. His blog is davidalove.com.