Now it’s ESPN’s turn to bow to Beijing

A Taiwanese flag emoji

The bowing and scraping to China doesn’t stop. Last week we wrote about how Apple has removed the Taiwanese flag emoji from IPhones sold in Hong Kong. We mentioned that Google and Microsoft, as everybody knows by now, happily jigger their products in accordance with Chinese censorship. Then there’s Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, who, when he dared to express solidarity on Twitter with the freedom protesters in Hong Kong, saw his whole world came crashing down on him. His team owner, the NBA, the Chinese Basketball Association, a Chinese broadcaster with which the NBA has a lucrative deal, and a bunch of Chinese companies that manufacture NBA-branded clothing – all of them, shamefully, took Morey to task for giving freedom a thumbs-up.

ESPN’s China map

Next thing you knew it was ESPN’s turn. On October 9, the show SportsCenter, which is aired on that network, showed a map of Communist China that included within its borders the island of Taiwan, part of the Philippines, and the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The map also included the notorious “nine-dash line,” whereby Communist Chinese maps indicate its utterly unfounded claims to the South China Sea. When called on its use of this map, ESPN refused comment, as did the Disney Organization, its principal owner.

Let’s look at this disgraceful episode piece by piece. Of course, Communist China officially claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and has never renounced its supposed right to take the island by force, although Taiwan is in fact an independent – and a free – country, and no map other than one produced in Communist China would include it as part of Communist China.

The red line indicates China’s South China Sea claims.

As for the South China Sea, Communist China has been more and more aggressive about it in recent years, treating much of it as its own property even though if you look at a map – a real map, not a Chinese map – you’ll see that the sea stretches far south of China, and is bordered on the east by the Philippines, on the west by Vietnam, and on the south by Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and Indonesia. In order to bolster its territorial claim to most of this body of water – which is comparable to the U.S. claiming the entire Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea – China has actually created artificial islands in the Spratly Islands, an archipelago in the South China Sea that contains settlements and military establishments owned by Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei.

Xi Jinping

And what about those bits of the Philippines and India? What exactly is on the minds of the bullies of Beijing? No wonder the countries of east Asia are trembling at China’s increasing pushiness. That ESPN map was no mistake, any more than the maps of the Middle East put out by Muslim countries that just happen to omit Israel. Indeed, looking at that bogus China map, it is hard not to be reminded of the way in which the Third Reich, after it had attained a certain level of power, began to grab one chunk of neighboring territory after another, painting more and more of Europe a bright red, with a big swastika right smack in the middle. Make no mistake about it: Chairman Xi and his crew plainly want to paint their neighborhood red too. And when it happens, don’t expect the cowards at ESPN to object.

The NBA: a fully owned subsidiary of the PRC

Writing on Tuesday about the courageous stance of the people of Hong Kong, who have taken on the totalitarian tyrants of Beijing in the name of personal liberty, we concluded with the observation that sensible people in the Western world, who were lucky enough to be born in freedom, should look upon the bravery on display in Hong Kong with respect and humility.

Daryl Morey

Well, somebody admired the folks of Hong Kong. The other day, Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team, tweeted “Stand with Hong Kong.” But the owner of the team, one Tilman Fertitta, rushed to Twitter to say that Morey wasn’t speaking for the team. Former Houston Rocket center Yao Ming, who now heads the Chinese Basketball Association, suspended its relationship with the Houston team. Several Chinese companies that churn out merch for the NBA, including athletic wear manufacturer Li-Ning, also expressed outrage at Morey’s tweet. Ditto Tencent, a Chinese firm that has paid the NBA $1.5 billion to broadcast its games for the next five years. The NBA itself was quick to distance themselves from Morey’s anti-totalitarian sentiments, with league honcho Mike Bass lamenting that Morey’s tweet had “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.” Bass added that “We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”

Tilman Fertitta

In the end, Morey deleted his pro-freedom tweet and feebly assured all and sundry that he had not meant to offend anybody. “I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China,” Morey tweeted on Monday. “I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.” Could any of this be more pathetic? Yet this is the world we live in, where a Communist tyranny wields such power that an American citizen dare not speak up for freedom for fear of outraging Beijing. Sports like basketball and baseball are all tied up in a lot of people’s minds with American patriotism. But to the people who run the NBA, it’s clear, the greenbacks they get from Beijing are more important than the red, white, and blue.

Yao Ming

Nor is this cowardly, craven attitude restricted to the NBA. On October 7, it was reported that Apple had removed the Taiwanese flag emoji from the newly updated keyboards of iPhones sold in Hong Kong and Macau, China’s other so-called “special administrative region.” Did Apple do this on its own initiative, or was it following orders from Beijing? Whatever the case, as the Quartz website put it, when viewed “against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, the move exemplifies continued corporate subservience to the Chinese government.” The Quartz article further noted that Google and Microsoft, which earn zillions in income from everywhere else in the world, are so greedy that they, too, happily bow to Beijing – in their case, producing Chinese versions of their technologies that accord with the censorious dictates of Xi Jinping’s regime. In short, Chinese money talks. And American freedom be damned.

Ben Norton, baby-faced Bolshevik

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Ben Norton

Is there a far-left media institution with which he doesn’t have a connection? Although only three years into his career as a pundit, baby-faced Ben Norton, a young American dude based in New York City, has already written hundreds, if not thousands, of articles for such noxious websites as the anti-Zionist Mondoweiss, The Intercept (run by the notorious Glenn Greenwald and pro-Castro scribe Jeremy Scahill), Eric Alterman‘s AlterNet, Middle East Monitor (pro-Hamas), Electronic Intifada (pro-Palestinian), FAIR (Marxists pretending to be objective media critics), Muftah (a Muslim hangout), and the Center for American Progress’s ThinkProgress (where he worked as an intern in 2014). Most prominently, Norton is a regular contributor to Salon. In addition, he blogs frequently at his own website and tweets constantly. As a result, there’s already a massive amount of material out there that proves definitively that Ben Norton is one of the top useful stooges of his generation.

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Obama at Hiroshima

Where to begin? For one thing, Norton is no fan of America, which he’s called a “rogue state.” (“[T]he real American exceptionalism,” read one of his headlines, “is selling the most weapons in the world by far.”) He wrote approvingly about a UN official’s charge that America is an “apartheid state.” (“The US is indeed horribly repressive,” Norton commented, “and its police force is incredibly racist.”) When Obama went to Hiroshima, Norton wrote that America “should apologize for its criminal atomic bombing” of Japan and “stop its nuclear escalation.”

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Noam Chomsky

A corollary of his contempt for America is his disdain for “neoliberalism” and affection for socialism. He pays tribute on a regular basis to the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Noam Chomsky. This spring, he was a passionate tub-thumper for the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders; in May, when Sanders made public his ridiculous list of picks for the Democratic Party platform committee – race hustler Cornel West (who’s also one of Norton’s icons), enviro-hustler Bill McKibben, Israel-hater James Zogby, Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (who’s cozy with such Islamist front groups as CAIR, the Muslim American Society, and the Islamic Society of North America), and Native American activist Deborah Parker – Norton gave it a standing ovation.

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An image of Palestinian women tweeted by Norton on International Women’s Day 2016

There’s more. On International Women’s Day this year, Norton celebrated the holiday as “an important symbol in communist, socialist, anti-imperialist, and other liberation movements” (although he lamented that a day of commemoration founded by socialists had been “co-opted by large corporations like Microsoft in order to celebrate the increasing diversity of the ruling class”). “U.S. politics today,” he suggested in April, “demonstrates just how correct early-20th-century socialist economist and revolutionary heroine Rosa Luxemburg was when she famously declared that society faces two options: socialism or barbarism.” This statement would seem to reflect a remarkable ignorance of – or indifference to? – the history of the twentieth century, in which socialism proved, in one nation after another, to be the very gateway to barbarism.

More tomorrow.