NBA superstar LeBron James on Monday criticized Daryl Morey in public, triggering a wave of attacks in the US. Several members of the US Congress joined in, and American netizens also humiliated him. For example, James was portrayed as a person who pledges loyalty to the Chinese national flag embracing 100 Chinese yuan. Almost overnight, he became a typical example of those who “throw themselves at the feet of Communist Party of China money.”
Such a scene impressed Chinese society deeply – “freedom of speech” in the US is indeed fake. It must be based on political correctness. In other words, as Morey’s support for Hong Kong protests is in line with US political correctness, it should be categorized as “freedom of speech” which must be strongly defended. But James’ criticism of Morey, which is not politically correct enough, has nothing to do with freedom of speech.
James and Morey made pure comments, but the treatment they received was poles apart in the US. It was quite dramatic. The issue took place in the country which takes freedom of speech as a core value. The truth about it is now fully exposed.
Chinese people have another strong impression: Nationalism is on fire in the US. There is a major difference between patriotism and nationalism – the former is defensive while the latter is offensive. Public opinion led by US elites is falling out with China. They are showing a strong tendency to attack China and the “freedom of speech” has been used as a weapon.
These radical US elites are also hypocritical. They are sabotaging China-US relations and undermining international stability on the one hand, but glorifying their actions as “protecting freedom of speech” on the other. Double standards have distorted their moral compass. They are now defining “freedom of speech” with US national interests.
Geopolitical tensions between China and the US have intensified the two sides’ conflicts over values, increasing the risks of China-US exchanges. Once dispute happens, it will be increasingly tough for both sides to maintain balance. World peace and stability requires Chinese and US societies to show tolerance while protecting their own value systems.
It is not easy for both countries to do this. China’s difficulties come mainly from the internet opinion, but there is no lack of institutional forces to manage them in Chinese society. However, the trouble in the US lies more in its system. The internet, mainstream media outlets, and political figures such as members of Congress have joined hands to crack down on buffers like James who tried to mitigate the NBA row.
NBA games were held as scheduled in Shanghai and Shenzhen, and Chinese internet giant Tencent also resumed live NBA broadcasts. But condemnation of James in the US has been continuing.
The US is a country that puts great emphasis on politics. Its ideology is often extreme. American society ranks highest on exclusiveness of viewpoints beyond its “political correctness.” The next time the US advocates “universal values” such as “freedom of speech” to the world, it should be honest.