Swamp Rabbit was desolate. His favorite basketball player, LeBron James, had let him down by criticizing Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for tweeting something supportive of anti-China protesters in Hong Kong:
Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you are not thinking about others and only thinking about yourself. I don’t want to get in a word 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, emotionally, spiritually.
“I don’t understand what LeBron is saying,” I said.
“Yes you do,” Swamp Rabbit replied. “He’s saying Morey did a mean thing when he posted that tweet — ‘Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.’ He’s saying Morey didn’t consider how all them millionaire players would feel if them Chinese honchos decided to block the NBA from making money off them hundreds of millions of Chinese fans.”
“Put yourself in LeBron’s sneakers,” I said, playing devil’s advocate. “How would you feel if some management dweeb posted a tweet that endangered your multi-million-dollar Nike deal in China? This is a very sensitive issue.”
I told him he was being unfair to LeBron, who has spoken out against Donald Trump’s bigotry and against trigger-happy cops who kill black kids, and has funded initiatives to help the poor in Akron, OH, his hometown.
But Swamp Rabbit wasn’t having any of it. He said people who let their conduct be determined by financial considerations are slaves to the powers that be, whether at home or in China. They can’t pretend to champion human rights if they ignore China’s campaigns to wipe out Tibetan culture, brainwash a million imprisoned Uighurs and negate the rights supposedly guaranteed to Hong Kong residents when Britain agreed to give their former colony back to mainland China.
“What about those bloodless Silicon Valley tycoons who run Apple and so on?” I said. “The masters of the universe who grovel to please the Chinese? They’re worse than the NBA, but you’re not saying anything against them.”
“I ain’t defending them,” he said. “Alls I’m saying is if your bottom line is big money, then keep your mouth shut about human rights. Get it?”
I smiled. “Sure I get it. But what about the ramifications?”