Let’s get right to it.
The Golden State Warriors public relations team is distancing the franchise from minority owner, Chamath Palihapitiya, after the billionaire boldly stated “nobody cares” about the Uyghur genocide in China on Saturday.
That’s from an article in the insufferably progressive NPR, but it’s all true: Palihapitiya did say it, he is a billionaire, the Warriors PR people are distancing the organization from him, and nobody cares about the Uyghur genocide.
They just don’t like hearing it said out loud.
To get a sense of just how bloodless we can be when discussing this genocide, we can stick with NPR.
In a segment that ran on their Weekend Edition program way back in July of 2020, host Scott Simon spoke with “China expert Adrian Zenz about his research uncovering evidence of birth prevention and mass female sterilization of Uighur Muslims in China.”
Scott opens things up like this:
A new report in Foreign Policy says that China’s suppression of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other chiefly Muslim ethnic minorities in northwest China now meets the United Nations definition of genocide, mass sterilization, forced abortions and mandatory birth control—part of a campaign that has swept up more than 1.5 million people and what researcher Adrian Zenz calls probably the largest incarceration of an ethnoreligious minority since the Holocaust.
Zenz talks about his findings that the Chinese are systematically ensuring the Uyghurs cannot reproduce. Simon says it’s notoriously difficult to conduct research in China and asks how Zenz gathered his data and whether he trusts it. Zenz explains that he culled his data from data available online (“different types of Chinese government documents, firstly from the Xinjiang National Health Commission, whose website has subsequently gone offline since the publication of my report, from local prefecture government websites and from county websites. We’re talking budgets with very detailed target indicator figures, reports, policy documents”). Yes, he trusts it.
Then there’s a little back-and-forth on whether what’s happening qualifies as genocide. (“People need to be careful using the word genocide,” Simon says. Indeed: it’s not one of those words you can toss around like confetti—words like collusion, treason, and insurrection.)
Zenz explains that he had always thought China’s handling of the Uyghurs was more of a “cultural genocide” than a “literal genocide” (or, as Whoopi Goldberg might call it, “genocide-genocide”).
Then he realized “suppression of birth” was one of the UN’s five criteria for genocide so he changed his mind.
The end of their conversation deserves to be reproduced in full:
SIMON: The U.N. has said that up to 1.5 million Uighurs are in internment camps in China. China says this is to contain the threat of terrorism and to reeducate people in the camps to become better Chinese citizens. Behind those statistics are real human lives that have been upended. I wonder what some of the stories you’ve been able to discover have reached into you the most.
ZENZ: Stories that are among the most harrowing, of course, are stories of abuse, stories of women being caught up by the police and, as they’re being brought to the internment camp, the first thing is that they’re told, you’re going to go on the surgery table, and we’re going to put an intrauterine contraceptive device into your body, because that’s standard policy for women who are put into a camp. Other women report of forced sterilization, of abuse, even accounts of rape.
SIMON: A word like genocide is also supposed to provoke the world to act. What do you believe should or can be done, Mr. Zenz?
ZENZ: I think China needs to face consequences by exclusion or sanctioning from multilateral institutions, either political or possibly economic sanctions, given that we also have a situation of forced labor. I think the international community got to start to think real hard how, with what kind of actions it’s going to back up its professed and supposed moral values.
SIMON: Adrian Zenz is a senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Mr. Zenz, thanks so much for being with us.
ZENZ: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
“A word like genocide is also supposed to provoke the world to act.”
Not the word, Scott: the fact of it. The monstrous barbarity of it.
This interview was broadcast in July of 2020. Eighteen months ago.
What have we done?
Because no one cares.
Back to Palihapitiya:
While discussing politics on his show, the All-In Podcast, the 34-year-old venture capitalist repeatedly told his co-hosts that “Nobody cares about the Uyghurs.” Palihapitiya said he cares about many things, including inflation, American health care infrastructure and climate change, but not the genocide China is accused of carrying out against the Muslim Uyghurs.
“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay. You bring it up because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you really care, the rest of us don’t care,” said Palihapitiya, who is also on the board of Virgin Galactic. “I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things I care about, yes, it’s below my line.”
What’s a little genocide between friends, right?
I mean, yeah, sure, re-education camps, forced labor, involuntary sterilization, mass rape—that’s not cool, but the world’s a pretty gnarly place and we can’t all go running around with our hair on fire over every awful thing happening in every little nook and cranny of the globe, can we?
Certainly not when you’re a stakeholder in the NBA, which is pulling in billions of dollars from China.
No one cares.
People always wonder how the world could stand by during the Holocaust. Why didn’t they do something? How could they allow it?
Easy: they didn’t care.
Hitler was a man we could do business with. “Frightful all those stories one hears, old sport, nasty stuff if true, but the world is a frightful place and what’s Germany to do with us?”
I’ll leave it to the reader to distinguish the difference between that kind of thinking and “I am totally against genocide, you guys, but I will not pay more than 600 bucks for an iPhone!”
That’s the hard ugly truth. It’s very hard, very ugly, and very true.
I’m as disgusted as the next guy by anyone who says “I don’t care about the Uyghurs.” That shows a contemptible and calloused disregard for enormous human suffering and an absolute indifference to the necessary hypocricies of civilized conversation.
I care about the Uyghurs. So do you. So does Palihapitiya, probably, in his heart of hearts. We care. We condemn the Chinese genocide. Our hearts run over for the suffer of the Uyghur people.
And yet taking all of us in the aggregate, I find nothing to criticize in the observation that “no one cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs.”
Back in December the Biden Administration announced a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Olympics. That means they won’t be sending any U.S. government officials to attend the games. According to the always exactly right Wikipedia, “The White House cited China’s mistreatment of the Uyghur people as the reason for the boycott. The White House said it stopped short of a full boycott, because ‘it would not be fair to punish athletes who have trained for years.'”
That’s how much the White House cares: enough to make a hollow gesture.
Denmark announced a diplomatic boycott of its own just a couple of days ago.
And all the Americans and Danes you heard erupting with outrage over this cavalier treatment of such a gut-wrenching issue tells us how much Danes and Americans care.
I wonder what all the people piling on Palihapitiya are doing to show how much they care. Retweeting things? Posting their solidarity? Putting bumper stickers on their cars?
Maybe there’s a brutal new hashtag?
Deeply caring friends of mine who refuse to eat at Chik-Fil-A because its CEO doesn’t support gay marriage haven’t stopped buying stuff made or assembled in China.
Because although they “care,” they don’t care-care.
I’m no better: what have I done for the Uyghurs? Nothing.
Because I too care—but clearly not enough to lift a finger.
Because no one cares.
The CCP has been cracking down on Hong Kong since the handover from Britain: they shut down two opposition newspapers just within the past couple of weeks—one of them by means of an armed raid on the newspaper’s offices. They’ve been occupying Tibet forever. They’ve been waving their sabers at Taiwan for decades. The global pandemic slipped out on their watch, killing millions and up-ending the entire world order. The Uyghur genocide has been underway for years. They’re a monstrous regime, a genuine bona-fide communist dictatorship.
Why have they gotten away with it all?
Because no one cares.
No one cares.
But I’m sure when there are no more Uyghurs, we’ll hold candlelight vigils on the anniversary of their extinction.
With candles made in China.