Desmond Tutu said: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
By now, I’m sure you’re well aware of the protests in Hong Kong, and how it’s being responded to by police. If not, here’s a quick run-down:
Hong Kong protests erupted in June against an extradition bill, which would allow for criminal suspects to be sent to China. The bill risks exposing citizens of Hong Kong to unfair trials, violent treatment, and would give China stronger influence over Hong Kong. Hong Kong has more rights than China because they have a one country, two systems deal, since they are a former British colony up until 1997. Carrie Lam, a Hong Kong politician serving as the 4th Chief Executive (and often called Beijing’s puppet), suspended the bill indefinitely. Protests against China’s totalitarianism has continued to escalate with rounds of tear gas and a police officer shooting a teenager in the chest at point blank rage.
Let’s talk about the NBA.
Reportedly, NBA China is worth $4 billion dollars. Now with the Hong Kong protests going on for months, it’s hard not to have an opinion. Houston Rockets general manager, Daryl Morey, tweeted his support for Hong Kong in a post that read: Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.
If any opinion has ever not been a big deal, this particular opinion should be it.
But it isn’t.
Americans sometimes forget that people outside America will lose their shit over this fascinating concept called “freedom of speech”. I’m almost disappointed that Morey deleted his tweet after Chinese media ignited an outpour of anti-NBA rhetoric, because it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat—if used in a positive, progressive manner, we need to support our first amendment. We’re a country who has caused some mass shit throughout the world but has countless of blessings and freedoms we take for granted. As Americans, we should look to Hong Kong and voice our support for their independence.
Did that happen?
No. Because we’ve turned into a bunch of money hungry wussies.
Within a week, Houston Rockets went from China’s most loved teams to hated. By most loved I mean the most popular team in China. By hated I mean China literally pulling all Rockets games from playing on television, enforcing consequences on the GM not censoring his opinion. Houston Rockets Nike merchandise has also miraculously disappeared from China stores. Rockets could lose $25 million in sponsorship, and sportswear brand Li-Ning, announced it would suspend business ties with the entire NBA.
The damage 140 characters or less can do.
Consequences are clear abroad. But what about at home? The NBA clearly wants the league to shut up and dribble to save its multibillion-dollar deal with China. Censorship has become an infectious fog: invisible but pretty fucking evident. When CNN’s Christina Macfarlane was blocked from asking Houston Rockets players about speaking out on social issues in the future, James Harden and Russel Westbrook silently stared on, as if Macfarlane spoke a different language when she asked a harmless question on a hot topic.
This is like watching a dystopian novel in the works. American’s saying things like stop meddling in international affairs, well that’s only an argument if it doesn’t involve America. And like the Desmond Tutu quote I posted as the first sentence of this essay, I don’t think people fighting for independence would appreciate America, of all countries, to not have a say.
I’m also pretty sure someone in the NBA knows that by 2020, China will be implementing a social credit system that gives citizens and corporations a number score to reward or punish behaviors the government wants a more dominating grip on (since censorship isn’t enough). Wouldn’t it be so shocking if that social credit system were to be applied to American businesses working with China (sarcasm, because this is definitely going to be a thing).
Do I think the NBA is allowing itself to be bullied by China over one tweet?
Do I think the NBA is owned by money hungry cowards who don’t know how to stand for anything?
Do I think the NBA should walk away from $4 billion dollars?
Yeah. You’re the fucking NBA.