Patterico's Pontifications


NBA Owner: Nobody Cares about the Uyghurs [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:41 pm

[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE 1/18/22: It turns out the Warriors did release a statement on Mr. Palihapitiya’s obnoxious comments. Silly me: I was looking for it on the team’s website yesterday when I should have known that these days all this kind of stuff is exclusive to Twitter. Anyway, here it is:

—- Original Post —-
We have discussed in the past the National Basketball Association’s craven and corrupt attitude regarding their partnership with China in light of the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur people, a Turkic-Muslim ethnic group which activists claim the Chinese government is systematically trying to eradicate via internment, control of child-bearing, and perhaps even liquidation. The outgoing Trump Administration formally characterized China’s actions against the Uyghur people as genocide, and to it’s credit, the Biden Administration has not yet publicly walked-back that characterization (what the Biden Administration might be telling China privately is another matter).

It soon became clear that the NBA, as well as some of its most prominent and outspoken social justice figures such as stars LeBron James and James Harden along with coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, were not too willing to cogitate on the ethics of doing business ($5 billion worth, according to reports) with the sort of government which would treat its Uyghur citizens in such a harsh manner (not to mention China’s thuggish smothering of Hong Kong). This while they continued to yammer on about all of the far more complicated and nuanced events occurring here at home, even when their observations were proven to be premature, uninformed, and insipid. And though the NBA has quietly suffered through the criticisms of the league and its stars from within its own ranks as well as from the general public, they have yet to truly address the conundrum of being an achingly woke sports league while still doing business with tyrants and thugs — a conundrum that other billion-dollar U.S. businesses are facing, with most of them opting for profit over principle.

So it should come as no surprise that earlier today an investor in an NBA franchise, Chamath Palihapitiya of the Golden State Warriors, made explicit the notion that his own political priorities do not include challenging the autocratic Chinese government:

Golden State Warriors owner Chamath Palihapitiya suggested recently that “nobody cares” about China’s system of concentration camps, forced labor, and high-tech surveillance against the Uyghur community in Xinjiang.

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay,” Palihapitiya said during an appearance on the All-In podcast. “You bring it up because you care and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

He went on to list other issues that occupy his focus, including climate change, the potential economic fallout of China invading Taiwan, and U.S. stores not having stocked shelves. The Warriors part-owner said that if America is able to find solutions to all of its own issues then he might shift focus to the oppression of the Uyghurs.

Palihapitiya is the founder and CEO of Social Capital, a venture capital fund whose self-declared mission is “to advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems.”

One would be forgiven for assuming that instead of “solving the world’s hardest problems,” Social Capital was really only interested in finding a way to profit from the world’s most trendy and exploitable problems. Chamath Palihapitiya was born in Sri Lanka but emigrated as a small boy with his family as refugees and ended up in Canada. Trained as an electrical engineer, he instead went into investment banking and was lucky enough to land at Facebook early on where he apparently developed a reputation for controversial product developments as well as being a tyrant of a boss. Despite the impression left by the phrasing the National Review article used, Mr. Palihapitiya can’t truly be considered the owner of the Golden State Warriors; he holds a minority investment stake in the team and thus serves on the board of directors for the franchise. But given some of the controversial comments made earlier by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, it’s not a stretch to conclude that Mr. Palihapitiya’s views about the Uyghur situation are fairly representative of a large swath of NBA ownership.

You can hear Mr. Palihapitiya’s views in his own words in the video embedded below:

The entire podcast is found here. It probably won’t come as a surprise to know that Mr. Palihapitiya also pushes the debunked idea that the CDC admits 75% of all COVID deaths have been people with four or more co-morbidities, that he believes there aren’t any laws against insider trading for members of Congress, and that he holds the requisite Bay Area/Silicon Valley billionaire positions on climate change, policing in minority communities, the operations of our prisons, and the like.

Again, Mr. Palihapitiva is not a majority owner of an NBA franchise, merely a minority stakeholder and a member of a franchise’s governing board. But given his professed beliefs on a topic which has thus far vexed NBA leadership (through, unfortunately, not as much as it should) it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the league has to say in response.


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