As a storm rages over the Hong Kong’s independence protests — and the controversial response to the crisis by major U.S. brands — one former player is blasting the “convenient social justice” exhibited by companies.
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence launched a sharp attack against the NBA, as fallout continues over its polarizing response to a pro-Hong Kong tweet made by the Houston Rockets’ general manager. “Some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China,” Pence said in remarks at The Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
“In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of the authoritarian regime,” he added.
That sentiment was applauded by Jack Brewer, The Brewer Group CEO and an ex professional football player.
“When [professional athletes] make money, they’re social justice warriors. When it’s hitting their pocket, they shut up,” Brewer told Yahoo Finance’s YFi PM. He played for four teams in the NFL over the course of five seasons before entering the financial industry.
Brewer also ripped into big corporations who demonstrate “‘convenient social justice,’” Brewer told Yahoo Finance, saying that he was “sick and tired” of the dichotomy.
“If you’re going to be a social justice warrior and you’re going to stand for people of all colors who are ridiculed, who are killed, who are displaced, who are put in these concentration camps — be consistent with your message,” he added.
‘Dollars over principles’
Brewer said Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, and his recent criticism of Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters, as a prime example.
“I was absolutely disgusted by the greatest basketball player of this generation…not standing up for those people being challenged,” Brewer argued. “When you put dollars over your principles—and over American dignity and pride—I’ve got a problem with that.”
During his Thursday remarks, Pence also called out Nike (NKE) for alleged hypocrisy.
"Nike promotes itself as a so-called 'social-justice champion,' but when it comes to Hong Kong, it prefers checking its social conscience at the door,” the vice president said. Houston Rockets merchandise reportedly disappeared from several Nike stores across China in the days after the Morey tweet controversy erupted.
Brewer hopes other American leaders will follow in the footsteps of the vice president to call out U.S. companies seen as bending to the will of China’s government.
“I think as a vice president of a country, you stand up for the principles and morals of that country as you see them,” Brewer said.
The vice president “is standing for what his principles are and — being in the middle of a trade deal— still calling them out. The NBA did not take that approach,” he added.