The NBA’s Teaching Moment on Totalitarianism

The government monopoly education system does a poor job teaching about Communism, and the millennial crowd has little knowledge of events such as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Fortunately, the National Basketball Association steps up to provide some enlightenment.

Communist China is cracking down on Hong Kong, an enclave of democracy. “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” read a recent tweet from Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets NBA franchise. As CNBC reported, this message displeased the Chinese Consulate-General spokesperson in Houston, who attacked the tweet and urged the Rockets to “correct the error.” The Chinese Basketball Association expressed “strong opposition to the remarks and will suspend communication and cooperation with the Houston Rockets club.” 

Down came the tweet and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta tweeted that Morey “does NOT speak” for the team. Then came a statement from the NBA that “We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.” And so on, but nothing about standing with the people of Hong Kong. For fans young and old, the lesson should be clear. 

Communist tyrannies such as China do not allow free speech, free assembly, and certainly no right to keep and bear arms. Those who question the Communist Party vanguard must be wiped out or reeducated. To that end, in 1966 Mao Zedong deployed fanatical “Red Guards” to purge “impure” elements of society. This violent “Cultural Revolution” continued until Mao’s death in 1976 and the casualties range from 1.5 million to 20 million.

For all its faults, and they are many, the United States does a good job of preserving liberty, opportunity, and individual rights. NBA players, coaches and executives often use those liberties to speak out against what they perceive as injustice in America. Yet they won’t stand with Hong Kong against the tyranny of Communist China. That is some weak stuff, as players sometimes say, but hopefully enough to school those who don’t remember Tiananmen Square, the Cultural Revolution, and the Great Leap Forward.


K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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