This condition that has come to be known as “sports washing” is nothing new. Examples abound of authoritarian regimes attempting to use elite sports to cover up brutality or human rights abuses – ranging from 1936 Berlin Olympics to me Sochi Olympics 2014. What makes LIV different is that it is something new, rather than having the system stick to an already notable sporting event like the Olympics or the World Cup.
This makes it difficult to separate the new organization from its Saudi backers, which has reduced support for the new league. Despite the support of former President Donald Trump—whose golf clubs host many LIV events—when LIV CEO Greg Norman met with the conservative Republican Study Committee on September 21, Members questioned the relationship between the university and the Saudi regime. Representative Chip Roy (R-Tex) Describe the whole issue As “Public Relations for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.
What’s most interesting about the landscape surrounding LIV is that it reverses the polarity of the way golf is often played in politics. Usually the time between shots and the private nature of non-professional golf outings is ideal for politics – sports washes included.
Nothing exemplifies this more than the most successful attempt at sports washing made possible by golf: when the Caribbean dictator used tournaments hosted by a famous Washington attorney to remake his system.
In 1930, taking advantage of political instability in the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo used his control of the military to seize the presidency. quickly collect a nationalists Thanks to his militarism, investments in public infrastructure, and xenophobic racism against blacks. This populism is intertwined with An intense culture of violence and fear He also ordered the assassination of hundreds of political opponents at home and abroad, imprisoned many in concentration camps, drained millions of Dominican industries and treasuries, and took control of a sectarian political party that spied on fellow citizens across the country while spreading the slogan “God and God Trujillo.”
World War II unleashed multiple challenges to his semi-spread fist.
One of the dictator’s first attempts to manipulate public relations came after he encouraged The Parsley massacre of 1937 Dominican soldiers and peasants patrolled the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and killed hundreds of Haitians, including those born in the Dominican Republic. This drew international outrage from Haitian officials, Dominican exiles scattered across the Americas, and American newspapers and Congress, with many comparing the massacre to atrocities committed by the Japanese military in Southeast Asia. In an effort to fend off the hype, the dictator fired International media campaignincreased his funding for charities and affirmed his unconditional support for the efforts of the United States government against the Axis Powers.
These moves gave Trujillo access to American weapons that supported his government, but his tyranny stood in stark contrast to the democratic ideals of the Allies as World War II ended.
Anti-Trujillo exiles reached out to like-minded allies throughout the Western Hemisphere to protest the dictator. This campaign included journalist Albert Hicks publishing a revealing account of the atrocities committed by Trujillo officials and US Assistant Secretary of State for American Affairs Spruell Braden. Arms sales cut off to the Dominican Republic. These and other events damaged Trujillo’s image on a global scale, causing him to worry that it might eventually erode his power.
With this in mind, Trujillo sought to recast his image in the United States. In 1946, his government retained the services of lobbyist Homer S. Cummings, former US attorney general. Thanks to his years in Washington, Cummings enjoyed many friendly social contacts among the political and economic elites. These contacts even allowed the famous lawyer to carry a Semi-annual golf tournament in Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina. Cummings’ championships date back to 1933 and have regularly featured members of Congress, White House officials and industry giants including Chrysler Chairman KT Keller. The tournament was the event of the season—and important enough to capture the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
By hiring the Cummings, Trujillo gained access to this elite tournament and its influential audience. After the dictator took over as client, Cummings expanded his calling list to include additional lobbyists on Trujillo’s payroll. William A. Morgan, the first to attend a Cummings tournament, was a noted physician who treated influential Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-Michigan). Outside of his medical practice, Morgan has spoken frequently on Trujillo’s behalf, bragging about his work at a workers’ hospital in the Dominican Republic.
Cummings and Morgan acted as agents of Trujillo, and used the golf tournament to pile praises on the dictator. During the April 1947 session, which included everyone from Senator Brian McMahon (Democrat from Connecticut) to Leslie Bevel, a close friend of President Harry S. Truman, Cummings interrupted attendees’ patronage to describe Morgan’s charitable services in the Dominican Republic at the dictator’s expense. By celebrating Trujillo’s good deeds without mentioning his role and Morgan’s role as a paid lobbyist, Cummings leveraged the camaraderie of the golf tournament to burnish Trujillo’s reputation.
This pattern would continue for more than a decade through Democratic and Republican administrations. The move was a sporting wash at its core: Under the radar, Trujillo has subtly remade his image during hilarious, intimate golf tournaments filled with opinion leaders who can shape how the wider public views the dictator.
Due to the quiet pressure of the Pinehurst tournaments, Trujillo enjoyed a good reputation in the United States until the late 1950s. Given the conversations that occupied long pauses between swings on the course, golf has proven to be the perfect place to press those who direct US foreign policy without the public knowing about their PR campaign.
This sporty under-the-radar wash on the court is the opposite of what the House of Saud is doing with the LIV Golf.
The backlash they encountered—and in contrast to Trujillo’s successful efforts—may suggest that the sporty wash works better under the radar, where competitors have fewer opportunities.
However, even the sport’s wisest laundry can only hide the brutality for so long – something Trujillo revealed, too. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 and the failed June 1959 invasion of Dominican exiles in the Dominican Republic inspired a wave of protest in the country. In response, in June 1960, Trujillo ordered the detonation of a car bomb for Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt and soon after agreed to kill the sisters Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Patria Mirabal. These sensational events betrayed the charitable image he had been posting for 30 years.
In May 1961, dissidents including some military officials assassinated the dictator Trujillo, leaving the nation grappling with a legacy of violence and corruption that only a handful of golf tournaments could shake off.