The Trump regime has been good for satirists, but I have Trump fatigue. I swore that I’d write about something, anything other than the Insult Comedian at least once this week. You’re probably fatigued by this expository paragraph. I certainly am but there’s a bit more to be said about the Insult Comedian before getting down to the matter at hand.
As you’re well aware, Trump is a fake tough guy. He’s been waging an “easy to win” trade war with China. The biggest losers thus far have been American farmers and consumers.
I remember when American conservatives disliked the Chinese Communist government for its repressive nature, not its trade policy. Who would have thought that aspect of the Cold War would qualify as the good old days? Before Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, right-wingers referred to members of the ruling party as Chicoms. It was a political, not racial slur. When not conflating the two, conservatives used to hate commies more than liberals.
Now that I’ve emulated Rachel Maddow’s A block, on with today’s post:
I’ve been closely following the China-NBA mishigas. Last week, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in mild support of the Hong Kong protesters. The Chinese government flipped out, then demanded and received an apology. Morey nearly lost his job before the NBA placated the Chinese government. Apparently, the A in NBA stands for appeasement, not association.
This Chicom sitcom exploded because the Rockets are one of the most popular NBA teams in China. The greatest Chinese hoops player of all, Yao Ming, played for Houston from 2002-2011. Yao is currently China’s basketball honcho and NBA commissioner Adam Silver described him as “extremely hot” over this mishigas.
In recent years, the NBA has presented itself as the “woke” sports league, especially in contrast to the NFL. This claim is under pressure from the Chinese government, which cannot abide any criticism from its business partners. It’s a reminder that while China’s economic policy is capitalistic, they’re still Communists when it comes to human rights. Free markets have not translated to freedom on the home front and never will if entities such as the NBA kowtow to the Chinese government.
There was such a backlash to the NBA’s initial supine stand that Commissioner Silver felt obliged to defend freedom of speech but when push comes to shove, the almighty dollar will prevail. The Bubba Gump guy who owns the Houston Rockets will insist.
The Maddow Doctrine clearly applies to this unsporting sports fracas:
What are you going to do, after all, turn your back on 1.4 billion people? Or 1.399 billion, if you don’t count the 1 million Uighurs reportedly held in prison camps where their culture is trained out of them by force (in a territory where the NBA established a training camp)?
Yes. That is what to do. Especially for the NBA, whose relationship with China is chiefly monetary. NBA China is reportedly worth $4 billion. That’s a lot of money to walk away from over one tweet. And that’s exactly why the NBA should walk away now.
China has already played its hand. If Hong Kong is nonnegotiable, there’s nothing to discuss. The subject will become more sensitive, not less, if the Hong Kong police move from tear gas and rubber bullets to the routine use of live ammunition, or if the People’s Liberation Army moves in. Would the NBA muzzle its employees then? Would the players and staff of a globally prominent American company censor their own feelings to protect the Chinese market? Why not take the stand before it gets to that?
Ironies abound in this story. The Trump regime is not interested in Chinese human rights abuses and cozies up to the vicious Communist dictator in North Korean while resorting to red baiting in domestic politics. It also shows the shallowness of the NBA’s claims of “wokeness.” To paraphrase Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers, first they look at the purse.
The last word goes to the J. Geils Band: