Woke politics often seems to train our collective attention down on our navels rather than out at the world. Is the issue of gender-neutral bathrooms really as morally urgent as a country that is, as Pete Buttigieg sharply put it, “using technology for the perfection of dictatorship?” This is a worldview that encourages companies to take cost-free stands on the progressive cause of the moment and do absolutely nothing to uphold fundamental progressive values when doing so requires more sacrifice than the time it takes to write up a news release. A worldview that fails to force companies like the N.B.A., Apple, Google and Disney to account for the fact that they are serving as handmaidens to totalitarians is not one worth taking seriously.
The longstanding conventional wisdom on China — that engagement and investment by America in China would inevitably lead to the country’s political liberalization — has simply not proven true. This is the chestnut Adam Silver himself insists on, when he speaks about the possibilities of “basketball diplomacy.”
Alas, just the opposite has happened.
China has become more repressive the more it has engaged with the West. Meantime, that economic engagement has led major Western businesses and institutions to keep quiet on a major moral issue of this century. The N.B.A.-China partnership is just one example of so many in which Beijing is calling the shots.