You Are Americans… Start Acting Like It!
Last week two news stories that sent me into despair came across my desk. No… not the abandonment of the Kurds to Erdogan… that is tragic on so many levels but, sadly, consistent with how we have treated allies of opportunity in the past.
No… this was homegrown garbage with an international flare.
The NBA and Esports.
Let us first address the NBA.
The Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, tweeted his support for the anti-tyranny protesters in Hong Kong; this displeased his masters in Beijing, and they immediately demanded “satisfaction”. I mean really… how dare someone criticize them? Don’t they know the consequences of speaking out against the State?!?
For his part, Morey’s tweet was removed from the internet and the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, tried to placate his Chinese masters. His protestations were not sufficient, though. As of this writing, a mini-commercial war is underway with Beijing and the NBA. Players and coaches who typically will criticize President Trump (or the entirety of America for that matter) have been strangely silent when it comes to defending Morey and the freedom of speech. One can only assume that the criticism towards our government is okay… criticism to the great benevolent Beijing… well, that is both unwarranted and commercially undesirable.
Then there was the recent fracas in the Esports world.
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Now, for those of you who have no idea what Esports are… (and I suspect that represents many of you)… it puts the NBA, MLB and the NFL to shame.
Professional video gamers (yes, you read that correctly) compete in global tournaments for ridiculous amounts of prize money. Moreover, these extremely “talented” competitors are compensated by their leagues to the same tune that professional athletes are compensated. People from all over the world tune in on streaming services, as well as physically attending these mega-colossal tournaments and watch other people play video games.
Now, as you scoff at the absurdity of it all and yell at the neighbor’s kid to get off your lawn, reflect on your own “viewing” habits. When was the last time you watched the World of Poker or Jeopardy for that matter? Yeah… Esports seems silly to me, but it is no more silly than watching any other group of paid individuals play any other sort of game.
Regardless… Blizzard / Activision has a large tournament in Asia. One of the players is a gentleman named Ng Wai Chung. He is known throughout the gaming world as “Blitzchung”…because… why wouldn’t he be?
Anyhow, Mr. Blitzchung evidently won an Asian tournament and was being interviewed “post tournament”. He chose to do the interview in a gas mask as a show of solidarity to the Hong Kong protesters. He finished the interview with a statement of support for the protesters.
Well… Blizzard / Activision (an American company) could not let that stand, not for one moment! They promptly took all his prize money, kicked him out of the league, and banned him from playing for a year. Their official response:
The player’s statement violated a tournament rule that prohibits any act that “brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image [sic].”
One of the most heart tugging scenes I have witnessed over the last few weeks is of Hong Kong protesters waving the American flag and singing the national anthem… not theirs… ours.
They see the United States as a beacon of freedom. Sure, we screw it up… (a lot)… but ours is a freedom rooted in the belief that power comes from the individual… that rights are secured by individuals and only limited powers of regulation are granted from the individual to the government… and conditioned on the premise that it is for the benefit of the individual. Most other western democracies do not necessarily share our philosophical view. They believe that power comes from the government, that the State determines how much “freedom” a subject is entitled to at any given time.
As flawed as we are, our belief system is the power behind the beacon that is America. It also powers an economic engine so powerful, the world has been envious.
Years ago when I was in the oil industry, I was meeting with one of my vendors in Houston. We were at dinner and we were discussing China. My contact said that for years they would joke in the office that if every woman in China bought one polyester dress at the beginning of the year their oil company would be in the black by the end of each January.
Well… they got their wish… sort of.
When you borrow a thousand dollars from the bank, the bank owns you. When you borrow a billion dollars from the bank… well… then you own the bank.
The Chinese market, both tapped and untapped, is such a glowing carrot that U.S, industries are completely willing to self-censure in order not to offend Beijing. The Chinese market represents ten percent of the interests of the NBA… yet, it is completely willing to throw the Hong Kong protesters under the bus for that ten percent.
For those of you who are my age or older, you might remember a 1980s film, Red Dawn. Yeah… that one…”Go Wolverines!” That movie posited a Soviet invasion of the U.S. with the Cubans acting as an evil proxy occupier in Colorado. I was extremely excited to see, a few years back, that they were going to remake the movie.
In the remake, the occupying enemy was going to be the Chinese. They filmed the movie and were all set to release it when Beijing got wind of what was going on. The Chinese told the movie studio, “You’ve got a really nice studio here… it would be a shame if something were to happen to it.”
The message was received loud and clear.
The imagery on the military hardware was digitally scrubbed and some scenes reshot to reflect the occupying force as being North Korean. This kowtowing is both obnoxious and extremely anti-American. We are better than this! We stand for things! Most important is the very idea that we support those who make tyrants uncomfortable!
De Opressor Liber.
That is the motto of the Green Berets. Their ultimate mission: To Liberate the Oppressed.
We must do the same. When we see injustice (abroad as well as here), we must acknowledge it, and then do what is necessary to support the victims of it and, yes, afflict the afflicters.
Becoming proxies for the tyrants is incredibly unbecoming… and if history is our guide, a strategy ultimately doomed to failure.
People… You are Americans… act accordingly… both in your personal as well as your professional lives! Be the country that the Hong Kong protesters think you are!
Steven Lieberman and Sandy Lieberman are the owners of the Artemis Defense Institute. A tactical training facility headquartered occupied California. (www.artemishq.com). Mr. Lieberman is also one of the founding partners in the Law Offices of Lieberman and Taormina LLP. Their law firm specializes in use of force, and Second Amendment defense and litigation.