Emad Barsoum writes: Trading Arts and Sports
Lately, the United States of America (USA) has traded its basketball player, who was detained in Russia for the possession of Cannabis, for a Russian arms dealer – Viktor Bout jailed in the USA and known as the “merchant of death”.
Bout was responsible for supplying arms and weapons to most terrorist organizations like Taliban and Al Qaida, many rebels in Africa, and drug barons and cartels in Latin America, which led to the killing of thousands of innocent people around the globe. His notorious activities even inspired a 2005 movie “Lord of War” starred Nicolas Cage and directed by Andrew Niccol. In reality, his crimes against humanity are incomparable to carrying a few grams of Cannabis oil for personal consumption.
In the meantime, when Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the west took group measures to punish Russia and push it to withdraw from Ukraine and stop the unlawful invasion; these measures were largely of economic and political nature. Nonetheless, the west even went as far as banning various types of Russian arts and sports in an unprecedented action against an invading country.
Russian arts performers as ballet dancers, musicians, and actors, were banned from performing in America. Russian athletes were excluded from participating in international sports events, and even more, the great works of Russian musicians and novelists were prohibited from being played in theatres and music halls.
What a puzzling shame and clear presentation of double standards; while other regimes around the world are practicing different forms of crimes against humanity and violation of human rights, yet never face any punishment or banishment. Neither were their athletes banned from participating in world sports events. Iran was playing in the world cup while its fascist government is exerting cruel humiliation and abuse for women and men, for example. Even the host country for the world cup is in question about the legitimacy of winning the hosting of the world cup.
The west, the cradle of modern civilization, knowledge, science, arts, and philosophy is banning the eternal literature works of great writers like Dostoevsky or Maxim Gorky, and the magnificent music of Tchaikovsky and many others just because it happens to be that they were Russian? The west is forgetting that all these forms of art are not the property of a nation, but it is a human heritage that belongs to all humankind forever. It is the possession of humanity, same as all works of Ernest Hemingway, George Gershwin, Oscar Wilde, and Leonard Bernstein. The list is long for great American musicians and writers.
Any act of war or oppression by any country’s regime against another nation or people is absolutely rejected and should be dealt with on a political or economic level. Still, arts, sports, and humanity must not be a pawn for conflicts. These heritages and creations are not stocks or commodities to be traded in the market; they must be kept human as they were when they came into existence. Banning arts and sports is not different from the destruction that the Taliban and ISIL did to the archaeologies in Afghanistan and Iraq. As discussed earlier that the world must seize involving religion into sport, now we call for the same to arts and sports in politics.