Lance Scranton: Principles or profit?
It is more than a little disheartening to hear all of the controversy over the NBA and their relationship to commenting on China’s human rights abuses. Walk down just about any street in America and you can voice your loudest opinion about how people are treated in this country. Yes, we can be our own toughest critic and we have come a long way from where we were with a long way to go. But, to hear corporate America try to avoid controversy by pretending that issues of human rights are complicated and difficult to understand is perhaps one of the most blatantly condescending attitudes I’ve seen in a long time.
The backstory involves the NBA’s corporate investment in Chinese fans and therefore the media that is required to reach those fans. As the situation in Hong Kong continues to drag on it has come to the world’s attention that there are certain rights and freedoms that the Chinese government does not deem as particularly important.
At one time in our country it didn’t matter who it was or what country was involved in something that smacked of old school communism or authoritarianism — people spoke up and talked about it and spread the word and the world knew where this country stood. But some of that attitude has come up against the resistance of the corporate welfare of big business types who go on television and extol the virtues of freedom but make the point that it isn’t their place to cast judgment on the actions of a foreign government because all of this is really complicated stuff.
In other words: it is important that we not offend consumers in our global marketplace because it will have a negative effect on our bottom line — which is as much profit as is possible — and with billions of potential customers in China it is important that we take care to not speak about issues that we don’t fully understand.
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Wow! Some of the stuff I have seen NBA coaches and representatives say the past few weeks has left me with a really bad taste for watching a game that is really enjoyable. Does it make sense to support a league that seems to put profits over principles? Is this the way a global economy has to work itself out? Does the cause of freedom around the world take a back seat to the almighty dollar?
Hopefully things will get straightened around and people will get back to calling out the things that stand in the way of people being treated with fairness and justice. We, in America, haven’t perfected it but we aren’t afraid to talk about it and call each other out.
I hope the NBA comes to its senses.
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