Vice President Mike Pence minced no words when criticizing the NBA for their cowardice in not defending free speech. During a speech at The Wilson Center yesterday, Pence dunked in the face of the league when he said that the NBA was a “wholly-owned subsidiary of China.”
The league has been under fire since Houston Rockets GM Darryl Morely tweeted out support for the protesters in Hong Kong and was criticized by the team’s owner. The subsequent reaction by China in issuing threats to cancel NBA games and contracts to sell sports gear had the league groveling before the mighty Chinese Communist Party. High-profile players like LeBron James seemed to take the side of the communists, apparently worried about the financial impact of being frozen out of the Chinese market.
Needless to say, the league’s display of cowardice in the face of intimidation won them few friends in the freedom-loving nations.
Pence spoke some much-needed truths to the arrogant, privileged power of the NBA.
“Some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China,” Pence said. “It’s siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech.”
“The NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of that authoritarian regime,” he added. “A progressive corporate culture that willfully ignores the abuse of human rights is not progressive, it is repressive.”
The vice president also took aim at Nike which, like many American corporations seeking to cash in by tapping into China’s 1.4 billion consumers, sold its soul for a few bucks.
Pence also took a swing at Nike, saying the sports apparel company prefers to check its “social conscience at the door” when it comes to Hong Kong.
“Nike stores in China actually removed their Houston Rockets merchandise from their shelves to join the Chinese government in protest against the Rockets general manager’s seven-word tweet,” he said.
Several Chinese partners have cut ties with the NBA after the tweet. The nation’s largest broadcaster refused to air preseason games taking place in the country, and the government called for Morey to be fired.
NBA legend Charles Barkley said Pence’s remarks were unwarranted. “Vice President Pence needs to shut the hell up,” he said. “All American companies are doing business in China.”
Yes, and at the risk of sounding as simple-minded as Barkley, that’s the point. To abide by another culture’s manners and mores is one thing. But to cower in the face of tyranny is never right. The NBA has enjoyed spectacular financial success to the point they can be as “woke” as they want to be. This includes the obligatory and now tiresome criticism of America, of Trump, of whites, of police — anything and everything American.
Their claims of being “oppressed” ring hollow. Really being “oppressed” means going into the streets and standing up for your rights and then getting shot down for your trouble. That’s real oppression, not the fake, whiny mewling of overpaid, overgrown kids who want to kowtow to communists.