We live, as you may have noticed, in the age of "woke" capitalism. Companies aren't just selling products, they're selling more than that. You see it everywhere, in movie trailers, corporate press releases and numerous TV commercials. The message is always the same: Companies aren't just soulless profit-seekers; they have values and principles. They care. They probably care more than you do. Once upon a time, corporate America flattered its customers. Now they dare you to be as virtuous as they are. Are they actually virtuous, though? Or is it a cynical ploy?
Consider this. Last Friday, Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team, tweeted what seemed like a noncontroversial statement. He wrote: "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." Now, China, as you may have seen, is trying to crush Hong Kong, and it's not hard to pick a side. China is a racist Communist ethnostate that bans dissent and murders its political opponents. They have Muslims interned in forced reeducation camps at this very moment. They viciously suppress the freedoms that we Americans take for granted.
You'd think every American would stand with Hong Kong without even thinking about it. But not the NBA. The NBA is on China's side. So, Morey was forced to delete his tweet. The NBA issued a statement making it clear that under no circumstances do they support Hong Kong or human freedom.
Steve Kerr is the coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors. On the question of American politics, he has no problem speaking his mind. He embraces hard-left orthodoxy. He doesn't hesitate to demand stricter gun laws. In the words of one fawning media outlet, and there are many, Kerr "speaks truth to power." So what truths was Kerr ready to speak to China? None, it turns out. Choosing between freedom and fascism turns out to be a confusing choice.
"It's a really bizarre international story," Kerr said, "and a lot of us don't know what to make of it. So it's something I'm reading about just like everybody is, but I'm not going to comment further than that."
"Not going to comment further"? A "bizarre international story"? In other words, Kerr is a phony. He's brave when the crowds applaud, but when money is at stake, he shuts up and obeys like a cowardly corporate stooge. Looking at pictures of the kids in Hong Kong holding American flags as they fight for their freedom, it's hard to imagine how a man like Kerr can look himself in the mirror. And yet, he's not alone.
Since this controversy started, two fans were kicked out of a game in Philadelphia for offending Beijing. The Philadelphia 76ers were playing a team from the Chinese Basketball Association. A 76ers fan who lived in Hong Kong for two years and his wife brought signs to the game reading "Free Hong Kong." Security confiscated the signs, and when the couple yelled, "Free Hong Kong," they got kicked out. The team issued a statement reminding people that the couple was warned about their continuing disruption of fans' experience.
Imagine if you lived in Communist China and you escaped and came to the United States because you love freedom, only to discover that corporate America was doing the bidding of the very regime you escaped from.
There are countless Steve Kerrs in corporate America. Just last year, right outside of Washington, Marriott International fired one of its employees. Why? He liked a tweet that recognized Taiwan as a country. That's it. The tweet offended China, so Marriott did the fascists' bidding and fired the tweet-liker.
Pandering to China is so common and so flagrant in Hollywood that the show "South Park" produced an entire episode mocking it. "South Park" was banned in China after the episode aired. You have to respect the creators for making the episode anyway and Comedy Central for airing it. Most companies in America would never do that. Why? China's population is 1.4 billion. Businesses want access to that market. For many companies, if it's a choice between supporting our country and our people or getting rich in China, it's no contest.
Businesses exist to make money for their owners. But organizations like the NBA regularly lecture Americans on social issues. By aggressively curbing Americans' freedom of speech so they can make more money from a brutal authoritarian regime, these organizations have shown where their true values lie. We're calling a technical foul.