I try to stay out of political things. For one, I’m not really qualified to speak to it because I simply don’t know enough about it. Second, my purpose isn’t to change culture. My purpose is to change lives.
Having said that, the current situation in China is a sobering wake up call for me. Maybe you’re like me and you have this vague ambivalence toward the Red Giant. You know they were communist, but it seems lately they are more like us. They feel … I don’t know … safer maybe? Friendlier?
Tiananmen Square seems like a long time ago. Chairman Mao is long gone.
But then we read about these people in Hong Kong risking their lives for freedom. We wonder what will come of that. Hope nobody gets hurt.
One random tweet supporting the struggle for freedom on the streets of Hong Kong by Houston Rockets General Manager, Daryl Morey suddenly brought me to my senses. He simply wrote, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,”
It wasn’t so much his tweet as it has been the reaction to it. I learned two things.
First, China isn’t safe. And China’s government isn’t good. China is just like it always was, a totalitarian communist dictatorship that brutalizes its own people. The only difference is now they’ve learned to play the Capitalist game.
Second, that little tweet also awakened me to the staggering hypocrisy of corporate America. And I suppose, by my silence, my own hypocrisy too.
Morey’s now deleted tweet has lanced the duplicity. He spoke truth and supported the right cause, but in the process China is now seeing red and the NBA is swimming backwards faster than a Louisiana mudbug.
The NBA’s equivocation is an astounding contrast to their “personal outrage” over an owner’s racist comments or the “bathroom bill” in the Carolinas. In both cases the NBA was quick to condemn. Now we know why. Their so-called outrage was to avoid losing precious dollars.
The Nike shoe is now on the other foot.
The NBA will lose truckloads of money if it doesn’t find a way to walk this back. China has already put a quietus on future NBA deals. Everyone in the professional basketball world is squirming for cover. Players stand to lose grotesquely lucrative shoe deals. The league will lose even more. And so they are trapped on the horns of their own prevarication.
Meanwhile, of all people, “South Park,” has risen to champion freedom.
Turns out weeks earlier Supreme Leader Xi didn’t like the fact that certain Chinese tech heads noticed a striking similarity between him and Winnie the Pooh. Memes were flying with Xi’s picture beside the loveable bear. Some even photoshopped the two faces together. They have a point. The resemblance is noticeable.
Xenophobic Xi banned all images of Winnie the Pooh. (We live in a strange world of megalomaniacal leaders these days.) Like the NBA, Disney started to squirm.
South Park sharpened their pencils and their wit and skewered both Xi and Disney with a parody of the Pooh scandal.
Honestly, I didn’t know the show was still in production. Remember this is South Park. I don’t recommend the episode. It’s a foul-mouthed pun of Disney’s cow towing to the Chinese gods. But it does have a funny scene where the lead character of South Park was thrown into a Chinese prison and he runs into Winnie the Pooh.
Xi responded to the comedy by banning South Park.
That’s when South Park absolutely won the day. I hate to admit it, but you have to give the devil his due. South Park shows more character than most of the hypocritical greed mongers of our time.
Here’s the text of their tweet,
“OFFICIAL APOLOGY TO CHINA FROM TREY PARKER AND MATT STONE.”
“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300thepisode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?”
The sarcasm is spectacular.
Isn’t it sad that it took an irreverent cartoon to shake us from our lethargy and see China for what it really is. And at the same time maybe it showed us what we too have become, a nation that values cheaper sneakers and cell phones more than freedom and human dignity.
There is an old Proverb that we should all remember.
Proverbs 17:15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.
Here’s the Bill Dye translation, “It’s just as bad to call an evil man good as it is to condemn a good man.”
Those of us in the evangelical church would do well to remember that the next time we feel tempted to support expedience, a political ally, or money instead of character and truth. There’s a bit of the NBA and Disney in us too.
Thank you South Park. I’m sorry we had to look to you to be reminded of what should have been our job.