The general manager of the NBA's Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted support for Hong Kong's protestors. The protestors are marching against increasing governmental incursions by mainland China into Hong Kong's affairs. When Great Britain handed Hong Kong over to China, China agreed to maintain autonomy for Hong Kong but now appears uninterested in keeping its promise.
Morey used the social media platform Twitter to voice his support for Hong Kong's protestors. Twitter is blocked in China. There is not a man, woman or child in China — except for the communist agents censoring the internet there — who could have seen Morey's tweet. But China demanded the NBA apologize.
The NBA is an organization unafraid to delve into "woke" American politics. The organization walked away from North Carolina merely because the state considered a ban on letting transgender people use bathrooms for the opposite sex. The organization decided to stop using the word "owner" for its teams because of woke politics. Multiple NBA team owners denounced pro-life and religious liberty legislation in the United States. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is famous for his pronouncements supporting every left-wing social justice cause imaginable.
Kerr had no comment about China. Neither did Stephen Curry, who claimed he was too ignorant of Chinese history to have an opinion on China's wholesale slaughter of its people. Making matters worse, the NBA released a statement supporting Daryl Morey's right to free speech, but its Chinese translation read differently. The Chinese language statement read that the NBA was "extremely disappointed" by Morey's "inappropriate comment." The NBA also apologized that Morey "severely hurt the feelings of Chinese fans." Again, that was not in the English language version.
On Wednesday, Americans showed up at a Washington Wizards game holding signs in support of Hong Kong. As the American national anthem played, NBA security officials forced these Americans to leave the area — an area that sits only a mile from where the American Bill of Rights is on display, guaranteeing our freedom of speech. To the extent the NBA has taken a stance, it has stood for China. Frankly, none of us should be surprised an organization that routinely opposes religious liberty in the United States would stand with a totalitarian communist regime that routinely exterminates religious minorities.
Disney-owned ESPN covered what happened but danced around what Morey had actually said. Someone leaked an internal memo from ESPN management insisting its staff, long willing to talk about American politics, refrain from talking about Hong Kong and Chinese politics. Disney, which now owns most of Hollywood, is reliant on Chinese viewers for its billion-dollar box offices. ESPN's actions come months after Paramount changed Tom Cruise's famous jacket from "Top Gun" for the sequel: The patches for Taiwan and Japan disappeared. Tencent, the Chinese film company that also has ties to the NBA, helped produce the new movie.
United and American Airlines wiped Taiwan off their Chinese website maps because China demanded it. Marriott fired an Omaha, Nebraska-based employee for liking a pro-Tibet tweet after China excoriated the company. Apple Inc. has likewise bent over backwards for China. Try to find the Taiwan flag in the emoji keyboard while in Hong Kong, and you will come up empty. Apple also adhered to Chinese demands that iCloud data of people in China be stored on Chinese servers and an app used by Hong Kong protestors be removed from its app store.
Facebook has run counter to most American corporations. Though the company could undoubtedly make massive amounts of money off one billion tech-savvy Chinese citizens, the company apparently refuses to do business in China. It has allowed platform access in Hong Kong but, just the other day, blocked Hong Kong's police force from using WhatsApp. The police were purportedly using the service to track protestors. It is rare to see an American company put freedom ahead of Chinese money. Facebook is a notable and commendable exception.
Americans need to take a strong stand against Chinese censorship and totalitarianism. The American people will have to take the lead. American companies are signaling they like communist money more than American freedom.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.