Tuesday, July 14, 2020 -
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Slam dunk: The NBA’s anti-profile in courage

Maybe we should revive HUAC to investigate the NBA on charges of communism.

The House Un-American Activities Committee was a major stain on American democracy in the 20th century. Ostensibly seeking to uproot communist influence in the US, HUAC (as it was called) abused its power to blacklist anyone on the flimsiest evidence of communist affiliation or sympathies — or on the basis of no evidence at all. “McCarthyism” has entered our vocabulary because Sen. Joe McCarthy embodied HUAC in its hateful hunt to ruin Americans’ lives.

So we speak tongue-in-cheek, of course, in suggesting a HUAC-like investigation of the NBA for communist sympathies. But check the facts, not ferreted out by mean-spirited congressional investigators, a la the McCarthy era, but provided by the NBA itself, quite openly.

Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted: “FIGHT FOR FREEDOM STAND WITH HONG KONG.” Dated Oct. 4, 2019.

Faster than the nanoseconds it takes to tweet, NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass released the following statement: “We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. . . . We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”

Duly chastened, demonstrating the courage of somebody else’s convictions, Rockets GM Morey issued this apology:

“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.”

Did he consider what the perspective of Patrick Henry would have been if, after Henry proclaimed in 1775 “Give me liberty or give me death!”, he received this tweet: “Yours is just one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. Ihave had a lot of opportunity to consider other perspectives.”

Shame on the NBA. Shame on Daryl Morey. Just as neither would be here if the likes of Patrick Henry had shriveled into silence as the NBA and Morey now believe the freedom protesters in Hong Kong should do, all those “fans” and “friends” in China are “offended” not because they are offended, but because if they don’t say they are offended they are coerced into silence — or jail.

Isaac Stone Fish, a senior fellow at the Asia Society Center, commented:

“The NBA, which has a training camp in Zingiang, where upwards of a million Muslims are in concentration camps, says that it is ‘not a political organization.’ Ihate to say this, but if you’re a foreign company in China, you’re making political choices.”

Not to mention, financial choices. The Rockets know something about China because they drafted a Chinese player in 2002, who did well, and because he did well the Rockets gained a following in China and were able to do business with various companies in China. Well, as a result of Rockets Morey’s original tweet, two of those companies suspended their work with the Rockets, according to Reuters. To Morey and the NBA, freedom is for sale.

Reuters also reports that the Chinese-language version of the groveling by the NBA appeared to go further than the English version. A retranslation of the Chinese-language version has the NBA saying: “We are extremely disappointed in the inappropriate remarks made by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey.”

We are extremely disappointed with both the NBA and Morey for succumbing to the very censorship that makes China a communist country, that robs the US of its identity, dignity and values, that elevates economic considerations above principle, that does all this under the shameless hypocrisy of “bringing people together”; and that, worst of all, gives China cover for its massive human rights abuses, and not only against Muslims.

China’s consulate in Houston urges the Rockets “to immediately correct any mistakes” and “to eliminate any negatives influences.” If that’s not proof of communist coercion, if that’s not demanding communist sympathies, what is? Joe McCarthy must be dancing in his grave.

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