July 22, 2023

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Source: Nick Hewson

Now that Wimbledon is over, a few thoughts about youthful brains showing traces of horse tranquilizers, angel dust, and cannabis, the ingredients that spell “moron.” I mean those sporting idiots who booed Victoria Azarenka after she lost the tiebreak 11 to 9 in the third set to the charming Ukrainian Elina Svitolina. Here’s Vica, a woman, a mother, a wonderful player, and through no fault of her own a Belarusian, being booed for going along with Ukrainian players’ decision not to shake hands with Russian or Belarusian opponents. When a Ukrainian player refused to shake hands during the French Open last month, the public booed her, not her Russian opponent. The frogs were right. Since when does the accident of birth make one a pariah? I’ll tell you since when: when it became unacceptable for anyone to hold different opinions from the mob, which is today.

The Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, yet a Soviet player, Alex Metreveli, was a cheered finalist to a Czech winner, Jan Kodes, fifty years ago (1973) at Wimbledon. Back then a player was not held in contempt for his or her country’s policies. The greatest sporting gentleman to ever compete was Baron Gottfried von Cramm, representing Hitler’s Germany yet cheered to the rafters by Wimbledon crowds—he was a three-time finalist—for his fair play and courtesy on the court. But I suppose there were fewer people with s— for brains back then among the Brits.

“Back then a player was not held in contempt for his or her country’s policies.”

Speaking of Cramm, whom I got to know well in the Sudan and hit balls with every morning, he angered Hitler in 1935 when on match point in Germany’s favor against the U.S. in the Davis Cup, he told the referee that the ball that went out, winning the tie for German, had tipped his racquet, awarding the point—and an eventual victory—to the Americans. Today he’d be called a loser, a sucker, and many other adjectives for his impeccable sportsmanship.

History is being rewritten daily by those who hate our past and our achievements, and that includes sportsmanship. Applauding a double fault was never on at Wimbledon, but it was done in America even as long as fifty years ago, so the Brits have finally caught on. And how many times have we heard bores telling us that sports and politics don’t mix? They sure did mix last year when accidents of birth disqualified a hell of a lot of good players from playing on grass. Which brings me to that other contest, the mano a mano between Putin and Zelensky, one that I fear will escalate and put Putin in a corner that will leave him with only one way out—the N way.

Mind you, this is a column that stands above politics and cheap political predictions, but a good after-dinner party game would be the one guessing who is making lotsa moola from the war. It’s a tricky one, I know, with libel laws being what they are, and with a free press under attack everywhere, especially in the U.K. after the Huw Edwards story, but the facts are that the usual suspects are making a killing—pun intended—as the war goes on. Who are these suspects? The military-industrial complex in the States, whose lobby is the second most powerful after the Israeli one in D.C., has to be among the biggest winners, as $1.6 trillion a year is spent on war and the ordnance needed. There are also rewards to those who schedule wars and conflicts and defend wars in the media.

I cannot name these people because they live in the shadows, and like spies they operate in secret. But there is an international war-creation cabal in the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany, and of course among their Ukrainian counterparts. Ukraine seems to be provided enough arms and ammo to keep the game going, and Zelensky’s on the move, demanding more and more weapons. What I would like to see are serious people like Ben Wallace demand Zelensky sit down and talk peace or else. Let’s face it: Putin wants to talk but cannot lose face by asking for it. When one takes into account that the developing world is neutral at best in the war between Russia and Ukraine, why is it so difficult for Ukraine’s supplier, Uncle Sam, to order the ex-comedian and present hero to everyone but me to sit and talk and instantly stop the slaughter?

Writing in last week’s Spectator, Colin Freeman got it as right as anyone has up to now about the war. If Russia implodes, Crimea will not matter. Putin, however, is still in power and will stay there, according to Taki, the world’s greatest military authority. And what does the greatest military strategist expert think? That’s an easy one: This war could have been the shortest in history if the usual suspects were not making a killing. Only last week, a fellow columnist, one who had been in Ukraine recently, told me how hated Zelensky is by Ukrainians deeply involved in the war, heroes we never read about. Zelensky is hogging the headlines, demanding weapons and aid nonstop, depleting the West’s supply of ammo while enriching thousands of those unmentionables I mentioned above. Churchill said it’s better to jaw than fight, and that’s what the West should be insisting on. But that’s like whistling Dixie up in Harlem, a no-go.


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