By Aidan callahan, The back page editor
I’ve done it, folks: I’ve found the worst title in Newswire history.
Last week, an opinion piece was published under the title “I stand with Abramovich.” The title takes the phrase “I stand with Ukraine” and replaces Ukraine with Abramovich. However, Abramovich is not a nation that was pulled into a pointless war costing countless innocent lives. Roman Abramovich is a Russian billionaire.
The author stands with Abramovich because all his assets in the U.K. have been frozen, including the famed Chelsea Football Club, due to his Russian ties. I would not call this a tragedy comparable to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The author’s point, as stated in his conclusion, is to remind us “that there is good and bad in every single person.” But this is not what he accomplishes. The opinion piece does nothing more than attempt to defend the billionaire.
The title makes this clear enough, but as the piece continues it only becomes more obvious. He tries to act neutral by saying: “By basically all accounts, Abramovich is a bad person,” citing his exploitation of the fall of the Soviet Union by paying bribes to government officials. But then he says, less than five paragraphs later, “What I can say is that I don’t think Abramovich is a bad person at all.”
Pick a side, man! To be fair, I get what he’s going for. He’s trying to approach the situation neutrally and show the good and the bad of Abramovich to illustrate that there’s good and bad in all of us.
The problem here is that people already think Abramovich is a bad person. By arguing that “there is good and bad” in everyone, all he is saying is, “Sure, he did some bad things, but what about all the good things?” If you’re looking for who stole the cookie from the cookie jar, and someone says, “There’s good and bad in everyone,” you probably want to check their bed for crumbs.
I’d maybe cut the author some slack if he had some good examples of great deeds Abramovich has done to balance out his karmic scale. But the best he can pull out is that he’s forgiving the Chelsea Football Club’s $1.5 billion debt they owed him. Wow. The man with over $13 billion isn’t demanding he receives $1.5 more. What a hero.
He also cited the amount of money he’s given in humanitarian aid, which I thought was a great point. That is, until I read an article from BBC Arabia about how he is the single biggest donor to an Israeli organization that settles on Palestinian land. Then I thought it was a less great point.
What I’m getting at here is not that Abramovich is an evil person through and through. I agree with the author’s point that there is good and bad in every person. My point here is that billionaires do not need to be defended in a newspaper opinion piece. When was the last time a billionaire wrote an opinion piece defending you?
There was an incident at a recent Chelsea game that illustrates my point well. During a scheduled minute- long applause in solidarity with Ukraine, some rowdy Chelsea fans began chanting for Abramovich.
Why? Why does this billionaire need a chant? Doesn’t he have enough? More than enough? Can we not, just for one minute, come together as a world and say, “Hey, some f*cked-up shit is happening, and we need to do something about it?” Do we really need to pause to root for some guy who is one of the most powerful people in the world simply because he sold an oil company 20 years ago?
Billionaires do not need defense. They’ve got millions of dollars going towards PR agencies to do that for them. Independent journalists should critique those in power, not lick their boots. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.