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Taking a Knee Against China

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP

China is claiming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “full of lies and disinformation.”

That’s not necessarily untrue most of the time.

But in this case Pelosi is being blasted by Communist China’s loudest mouthpieces because she’s actually done the right thing – almost.


To protest China’s long list of serious human rights violations, which is a good thing, Pelosi has urged global leaders and diplomats to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.

Nice try, Nancy.

But somehow, I don’t think China’s rulers will be losing sleep over your idea.

Their country is not going to look bad in the eyes of the world or lose the propaganda benefit of hosting the Olympics because Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and their global counterparts don’t show up in Beijing.

A boycott by a bunch of no-name diplomats will never persuade the Communist Party of China to release a million Uyghurs from its concentration camps, take its knee off the neck of Hong Kong or decide to transform its oppressed nation into East Switzerland.

She’d never suggest it, but what Pelosi should have proposed is for Olympic athletes in America and other free countries to protest China’s multiple crimes by staying home.

A well-publicized boycott staged by America’s elite athletes would have a great impact on China’s “good name” – and might even pressure it to free-up its 1.44 billion captive citizens a little.

I’m thinking specifically of the NBA, superstar role models like LeBron James and hundreds of other highly paid pro basketball and football players.


NBA players won’t be competing in the winter Olympics, obviously, but if they want to be consistent and principled, they need to man up and take a knee against China.

It will take a whole lot of courage. The NBA is a lucrative and extremely popular brand in China.

It makes tons of money selling its merchandise and streaming its games there. Players also derive part of their huge salaries from the league’s popularity in China.

Stars like LeBron James need to apply their high standards of justice and moral outrage to China. NBA players need to protest the bad things China’s authoritarian government have been doing to its own people – and the rest of us.

China gave the world the COVID-19 pandemic. It has colonized Tibet and threatens to annex Taiwan. It’s expanding its military presence in the Pacific.

China, to steal a phrase, is the Evil Empire of our day.

It needs to be publicly shamed and punished by the free world for its human rights violations, and the NBA and its players have the power to do both – if they can find the courage.

Many of the NBA’s players have spent the last few years taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest what they perceive to be America’s systemic racism and the mistreatment of blacks and other minorities by police.


Fine. That’s their right. Peaceful protest is part of what America is all about.

But while they’ve taken a knee for George Floyd and against America, the players just take the money from China.

They’ve turned a blind eye to the genocide of Muslims, the arrests and disappearances of its whistle-blowers and its crackdown on the people of Hong Kong – and just take the money from China.

The NBA and the players talk big about justice, but they’re all about the money. They’re not about to hurt their bottom lines by taking a knee against China.

You might say that when it comes to China the NBA and the players don’t go for the gold, they go for the green.

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