Chinese State Media: Criticism Of LeBron James Has ‘Nasty Racial Connotations’

Over the weekend, Chinese state-run media outlet, China Daily, published an opinion piece by one of their regular writers blowing the lid off of critics’ rationale for skewering LeBron James over his comments about Hong Kong: racism.
According to “Ian Goodrum,” a self-identified “writer for China Daily,” an arm of the Chinese government’s extensive state-run media machine, James’ detractors, who take issue with James’ support for the Chinese government in its dealings with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and his support for the NBA’s crackdown on anti-China commentary, are driven by racial prejudice and accuses American authorities of “hypocrisy” in “silencing” James on the issue.
“Opinion elites were quick to condemn James for, irony of ironies, insufficient condemnation,” Goodrum writes. “They wanted James to come out strong against China, to mirror their perspective on a country they’ve designated as an enemy.”
James, of course, suggested that the NBA punish Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey for a Tweet expressing solidarity with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. James later spoke at length about the trouble with Morey’s social media missive, and seemed to suggest that the NBA should limit the speech of its players and administrators with regards to China.
“I think when we all sit back and learn from the situation that happened, understand that what you could tweet or could say [could affect people],” James said. “We all talk about this freedom of speech. Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, and you’re only thinking about yourself.
“I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke, and so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically,” he continued. “Emotionally. Spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say, and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
James, of course, had no problem with players’ league-wide protests in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former-San Francisco 49er who knelt during the national anthem at NFL games in protest of institutionalized racism and police brutality. When it comes to China, however, James, who has a multi-million dollar contract with Nike, which sells to Chinese consumers, and a vested interest in the lucrative payday the NBA sees from its Chinese arm, seemed less thrilled when it appeared such “free speech” might impact his bottom line.
China Daily suggested that it is those calling for James to rethink his commentary, and not James himself, with the hypocritical view of free speech.
“A revolting hypocrisy is at work here. The same people who told James and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to ‘shut up and play’ when they took a stand against the killing of Black men by U.S. police are now demanding athletes speak out — but only if their opinions are the correct ones, of course,” the paper alleged.
‘No matter what anyone says, this isn’t about freedom of speech. That’s just a fig leaf, a cover for policing discourse and narrowing the window of acceptable opinion so the only stances that fit are the ones in line with the US government,” China Daily’s columnist continued. “‘Free speech’ has never really been about the untrammeled right to say or do whatever one wants — the US created broad definitions of dissent to prosecute its critics throughout its history.”
They’re referring, specifically, to the 1789 Alien & Sedition Acts, which limited immigration and acts of speech in wartime in the late eighteenth century. China, by contrast, has been rounding up detractors recently, is attempting to curb free speech in Hong Kong so that it may punish Chinese dissenters who seek refuge there, and has reportedly thrown more than a million ethnic Chinese Muslims into concentration camps, where they are “re-educated” through torture.
The piece ends with a call for James not to “buckle under pressure.”

“No one in the major US media, not even James’ few defenders, has entertained the notion he was speaking honestly. Besides the nasty racial connotations — think for a moment what a largely white media class devaluing a Black man’s subjectivity implies — it sets a precedent,” China Dailyclaimed. “If one of the most talented and popular athletes in the world has his statements dismissed when they don’t conform to Western consensus, what does that mean for the rest of us?”
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