PR advice for celebrities on how to deal with China

Starting with Lebron James, that is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column.  Here is one bit:

Third: Preface your “no comment” remarks with a patriotic platitude.

If someone asks James about the situation in China, it seems a little abrupt and dismissive for him to simply utter, “No comment.” Instead, it would be better for him to say something like this: “I am an American and I love my country. I do not have any comment on matters related to Chinese politics.”

At least then he or any other celebrity would be standing for something, albeit in a pretty empty way. They will sound less like vacuous money-grabbers and will provide some weak support for patriotic norms.

Granted, this may not be the most preferred response for the Chinese Communist Party. But the party won’t limit your shoe sales simply for saying you are an American patriot. It may even like the general idea of a celebrity promoting patriotism.

This is much more at the link, at least one part of the piece being tongue in cheek (though good advice nonetheless).  This part is fully serious:

I do not think that corporations, or for that matter athletes, should be motivated by dollars alone.

In the meantime, I do not expect the Lakers to be a formidable force in the NBA this year.


Tyler -- Are you afraid to criticize CPC and/or PRC on this website?

Seems to me that the US government should step up and protect US citizens, permanent residents, and companies from bullying by foreign countries and governments.

It's more of a professional courtesy. The only fear he has is being ripped by other academics.

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If "Hong Kong Lives Matter", why not just take a knee?

Because I'm a cuck. That's why.

My advice to Lebron Jame$: confine yourself to dribbling.

I thought this was fine.

But "I am a patriot" is probably not sufficient discrimination for domestic civic responsibility.

What is this sentence attempting to convey

Patriotism, as in "I support the troops," may not delve too deeply into underlying risks, concerns, questions.

Citizens should try to understand what exactly they are supporting.

Obfuscation by vagueness and vacuity is not an admired trait in writing.

Speak plainly please. You have specific things in mind.

The host here loves Straussian comments. That wasn't that. It merely invited introspection on what discrimination citizens should have.

So you’re mentally incompetent and cannot express coherent arguments.

You mentally disabled people should say this upfront in my opinion. You have nothing to say because you cannot think through two steps of cause and effect. Or, you can and ignore actual effects.


Should I take that to mean you are not accepting the invitation to introspection?

"I am American and I don't care about what this Hitler fellow is doing. This year, we will make the playoffs, baby"

"I am American and I want people to shut up about Stalin already. How many home runs has he scored? USA! USA! USA!"

Most Americans were not opposed to Hitler and did not favor entering the war in Europe even after Germany had invaded and conquered Poland and France.

And now we know this was wrong.

Why was it wrong?

Because Hitler and his Japanese allies wanted to enslave mankind. And this is wrong.

See my comment below. I do not think we should be applying strict moral standards like that to people from a very different culture, like Nazi Germany. Who is to say what's right and what's wrong for a Central European state with strong ethno-nationalist attitudes and which is dealing with economic and social upheaval?

It is beyond the human capacity to understand all social or political problems worldwide, and to address them all proportionately.

I guess my current specialty is as an independent American institutionalist.


That's a pretty ironic comment coming from someone who has been kvetching non-stop about the poor Kurds for the past week+, when it was clear from the start you had no clue WTF you were talking about.

Do you actually need links on the Kurdish alliance and the US national interest, or can you handle that yourself?

No, this morning the President went rogue, denied the entire US national security infrastructure and parroted Putin, Assad, and Erdogan talking points.

Sounds like you understand the situation pretty well, then. Somehow, China and Hong Kong are too hard a puzzle for you, though, is that it?

I said we choose specialties. Some people choose Hong Kong, some people choose Climate Change.

This is actually a feature, and not a bug, that all concerns are subscribed.

Aw, come on. You fake expertise on just about everything. I smell false humility bad it's like a dead skunk in July. Sad.

Me: I worry about the President of the Untied States.

You: I worry about you.

Nice to be loved, but I think your attention is misplaced.

I know, it's tough having your BS called. You could try doing a bit less of it, as a coping strategy (BS-ing, I mean).

You made no coherent argument.

Hitler's and Japan's objectives were not to "enslave" " mankind". Hitler wanted to enslave a limited segment of mankind (sub-humans only however who occupied land that Germans rightfully deserved) and to exterminate another segment, but that was for the purpose of improving mankind overall. You can't make an omelette without breaking Japan believed that all of mankind brought under one roof serving the Emperor was best for all mankind.
You STEM nerds need to stop spreading lies and fake news about National Socialist Germany and Imperial Japan.

You know less about war than about economics.

The US should not interfere. We have our 70 SF troops safely out of Syria and America's enemies (Iran, Russia, Syria, Turkey) are killing each other.

The Kurd genocide will cease as soon as the Kurds stop fighting, i.e., when they have suffered sufficient KIA's to realize the Turks are serious.

No. You can't provide a link to the official. ratified US/Kurd Alliance. it It doesn't exist. The NATO alliance including Turkey does.

Not the entire US military-industrial complex/deep state favors endless, world-wide interventions always and everywhere on Earth.

In fact, Kurd insurrections/terrorism and Turkish responses have been flagrant for over 25 years and cost 55,000 [more than US KIA in Korea] Kurd and Turk dead, including Turk and Kurd women and children.

I’m sure I’ll get sock puppeted to hell by some psycho with a vendetta against Professor Rosser.

Seriously that Prof failed some unstable kids. I posted links and that was it. I’m sorry sir, none of those responses was me. You have some weirdly obsessed enemies.

Anyways, the withdrawal was still idiotic and poorly executed and announced. It shows an extreme lack of tact if nothing else.

The slaughter is already over, as I literally told this blog, the Kurds would sign a deal immediately that puts their security into the hands of actual local power brokers.

The troll guy does not care about Kurds or the Middle East.

You know how I know? I either know your son or at most I’m one degree away. He does not.

Troll guy is here for partisan food fights, he couldn’t care less about us. The humanist that hates people, a la Sartre.

Keep the faith.

I'm simply bored. The situation s complicated. And, that guy comes out with such craziness . . .

My son is a US Army Airborne Ranger on active duty, and deployed numerous combat tours. It's always hard on his Mother.

Trump has exhibited a number of super powers. Here he has commanded (think mind meld) the left to cavort about as blood-thirsty warmongers.

Trump doesn't give a crap about the military. He insults POWs and gold star families like its reality TV and leave allies to their deaths. The fact that you and GP seem content to loyally fondle Trump's balls despite that means you're blinded by politics.

Let's run him for POTUS. The Dems got nothing.

The Dems have the Washington Consensus. The borg. Demography is destiny and staffing is policy.

Trump managed to do things that were sometimes correct but in the most damaging and stupid way possible. But he doesn’t disagree with the style. He disagrees with ending forever wars.

On the other hand, Obama used us as human mine detectors and cannon fodder. And anonymous cheered. We aren’t his patriots, since we are lacking in his civic responsibility. Remember anonymous wants us alive if we vote for his candidates, and dead if we don’t.

Fighting for the US is not patriotic to anonymous. Voting for Warren is.

Dick is a traitor as is his son. According to the New Democrats.

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.

No one seems to recall this mess (one of dozens President Trump inherited) is a result of Obama and Bush [not a dime's worth of difference between them] policies.

It seems as if they 9the lft, Dems, political generals, the CIA, the Fed, et al) doubly hate Trump because he puts honest Americans first and he daily proves them the low-life losers they are.

Youtube clip of the Russians when they took over the America base in Syria because your coward President got scared:

So the tragedy of the Kurds has been reduced to the Russians filming some empty rooms?

Darn, missed the middle sentence/paragraph:

"And so we specialize."

So that is it. So Nazism must be great. So that is what Americans died for in Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima. To people support Nazism.

This is something I often hear, but what is the evidence for this ?
After all, I also read that during the 1940 presidential election campaign, Roosevelt were accused by his opponents to be pro-war, and yet he won handily.

"Most Americans were not opposed to Hitler..."

Do you have a citation for that? It sounds pretty damn speculative.

LeBron James is a national disgrace and should be treated as such. He is the byproduct and leading symbol of a self-promoting, under-informed and mood affiliating cultural elite. Plus, he will never be as great as Jordan.

Tell us how you really feel, hun.

Jordan had a lot of help from the refs.

Seems like critics on this page are making odd choices.

We have civic responsibility

But I think it is pretty much our choice how much we want to take up responsibility further afield.

Don't get it backwards.

Agreed. We should only apply ethical principles to select groups of people. Others should be judged by lesser standards or not at all. I learned that in a philosophy class.

That's not what I, or Tyler, said.

You can pick your fights, that's up to you.

Though of course we hope you are picking moral or ethical fights, and not just creating sophistic camouflage for the unethical or immoral.

You may not think you said it, but we know you. It's all out there in front of gawd and everybody - the mousian virtue signaller.

Me: The president was aided into office by a foreign power. He just yielded battlefield bases to that same foreign power. It's unbelievable, and yet it's true.

You: virtue signalling.


Me: The president was aided into office by a foreign power. He just yielded battlefield bases to that same foreign power. It's unbelievable, and yet it's true.

You: off topic, doesn't count

anonymous: Crazy non-stop TDS!

everyone else: Would you stop posting your non-stop TDS!

anonymous: Everyone else clearly has bad motives because they don't always agree with me!

You: 9/11 was an inside job

me: stop drinking or drink more.

What would you dudes do without "TDS" as the amulet to ward off all consideration?

The Mueller Report actually said it. The Trump campaign welcomed illegal Russian involvement. And since then ..

Common thread for Mueller, Ukraine and Syria: Russia Helps Trump, Trump Helps Russia

What if like, anonymous is the only non-Russian on MR.

He should like, stop posting on Russian troll farms.


This was a good joke, S.E.M. because it does cut both ways. The group might be too Putin friendly, or I might just be seeing it so. But fwiw:

"More revealing was who Trump didn’t attack: Turkey and Russia. He said Turkey’s invasion “didn’t surprise me.” He praised Turkey for being “almost paid up” with NATO. He said Russia, Iran and Syria can be trusted to take over the fight against the Islamic State."

More here.

Here's how it works. Take the third sentence in the second paragraph on page 23; add it to the second sentence in paragraph four on page 37; add the fourth sentence on. . . . and you get proof that Trump colluded with Russia, Ukraine and Upper Volta.

Your 's calling! Your supper's getting cold.

I don't see that James, or any public personality, has an obligation to opine on any particular world event. But James didn't simply refuse to use his platform to criticize human rights abuses in country where he is doing business. He used his influence within the NBA to call for punishment of Morey.

Furthermore, according to his comments, Lebron James believes the league should intervene when a player's comments threaten the finances of the league. Does that mean he is OK with sports leagues such as the NFL banning players from kneeling? Should NBA players be banned from making controversial political comments? Somehow I don't think so. Maybe more athletes and celebrities should take Laura Ingraham's advice to shut up and play.

I agree that the Lakers will be the second best team in LA and it won't be close.

LeBron James said that, "I think when the issue comes up, if you feel passionate about it or you feel like it's something you want to talk about, then so be it," he said. "I also don't think every issue should be everybody's problem as well."

This sounds reasonable. Most people don't care about this issue. It's not like guns or abortion or black lives matter.

Agreed. The notion that black lives matter was always a fanciful one.

I really don't care what athletes think. The depth of my not caring is bottomless. When they insist on telling me what they think, I lose interest and turn away. I really really really don't care.

Lebron's job is to throw a ball into a hoop. If he can't throw the ball into the hoop effectively, he will disappear from the public consciousness within a week or two.

Did I say that I really don't care about anything he thinks? Any journalist or network, or whoever who insists on probing what he thinks is simply turned off. I don't care.

How is ESPN doing by the way? Anyone watching them blather on?

If we support people betraying America, do you think only basketball players will avail themselves of this ost weird dispensation?!

Good advice. LeBron James defanged any future comments he and to some extent the entire NBA may make in the future regarding social issues in America, do you think he realizes?

It's also interesting to explore LeBron James' motivation to make the China comments in the first place. Rumor is he spoke up to point out the double standard that if a player had made Morey's tweet, there would be disciplinary actions. He probably was thinking about fairness and justice in an extremely local sense, that is, fairness between players and management. At most, he was thinking about fairness in the American sense as between race or class, i.e., high status, "white" coaches versus the formally low status, "black" players. So his whole defense of Chinese interests seems to be motivated by purely American partisanship.

How often does this happen? It seems like daily, some high profile American becomes the useful idiot of some despicable regime, motived by domestic tribalism. That is the real "China trap" (and "Russia trap", etc.) of which we have to be made aware. It's institutional arbitrage used over and over again by our foreign adversaries.

Why? He's a black celebrity. Most of his and the NBA's core fanbase is black. These people don't know or care about Hong Kong and China.

The people who are making a big issue about this are the media and political class, who don't constitute the NBA's fanbase and aren't paid attention to by the NBA's fanbase, and conservatives and the right wing who are trying to capitalize on this issue to attack the NBA for its leftism but who themselves don't care about the NBA because it's too black and leftist.

> The people who are making a big issue about this are the media and political class

This is also the class of people who author the articles on equality and justice. So dismiss the impact of LeBron James' hypocrisy if you want, it won't stop people from pointing it out anytime he speaks up again.

Yes, that class believes it should have a position on anything, anywhere in the world. LeBron James apparently doesn't. So James isn't a hypocrite.

He should have shut up about Morey's tweet then, He got himself into this.

Lebron James is a basketball player, one of the best ever. He has involved himself in several charitable ventures, particularly in his home city of Akron, OH, giving generously of his time and money, and producing some tangible results. He has seen fit to offer opinions on some domestic political issues, ones where he feels he has something to say, in particular the treatment of young black men by the police. As a young black man, he has experience which is relevant to those issues, and his example will be noted by others who see him as a role model.

Why in the world would we want to hear his thoughts on China and Hong Kong? Because he sells shoes there? He clearly has no more knowledge on the subject than your average American, which is little or none. When he spoke about the tweet controversy, he spoke about how it affected him and the other pro basketball players who were in the country at the time. They found it disconcerting, and they wished it hadn't happened. That's a narrow perspective, but the vast majority of Americans would have even less to say about the issue. Expecting professional athletes to be up to date and fluent in world affairs is just foolish. He's in training camp and is probably working on his jump shot, which is an entirely appropriate activity for an NBA player. There's a very good chance he is not reading MR, The Economist, the NYT, or Foreign Affairs. That's fine; let him play basketball. He's not paid to have opinions on geopolitics.

Would he have been better off saying nothing? Yes, and I'm sure he feels that way now.

"I am an American and I love my country"

I suspect that most foreigners assume that's code for "I am about to tell a whopping lie". Foreigners, eh?

From Lebron and others like him, that IS the lie.

Brazil's President, Captain Bolsonaro, has officially said he opposes the Chinese totalitarian regime.

The best PR advice is to try not to be a hypocrite. No one would give a shit about James' opinion on China if he wasn't offering political opinions on everything else similar to the issues in China.

I take your point, but even without any history, "those Hong Kong freedom fighters are costing me some of my millions," is going to come across as hugely insensitive.

Why not defend china?

They are imperfect sure. But is there a government in world history that has increased human welfare to a greater extent than china?

They have lifted more people out of dire poverty than any other regime in history. They may not be 100% "market" or 100% "democracy" but there regime still feels political pressure like a democracy. Its one of the reasons why stability and economic growth has been incredibly important for their regime to increase legitimacy.

And their way of picking a leader hasn't fallen onto the dictatorial types of most dictatorships. One of the few countries that have had peaceful changing of power without violence. Something that only happens in democracies. They have legacy issues, but in many ways their system still works and the checks and balances have increased over time.

Satire or not I can’t tell. Unfortunately this post may be more true then people are comfortable accepting.

Not satire. But its what I accept as true. In reality sometimes China seems to back American values to a greater extent than we do. We use to believe in free trade. Making intelligent decisions etc.

Or, perhaps, James could offer, "I have a policy of not meddling in the internal politics of foreign countries, the same as Barack Obama."

Very well-considered, Tyler, I am sure, but harder to remember than the Rotary Club Four-Way Test; and by the time you've finished satisfying those four questions in your mind, you'll find the conversational current has moved on anyway, thus obviating your first rule.

"but harder to remember than the Rotary Club Four-Way Test"

+1, You are a font of arcane wisdom. I think I learn more about interesting things I have never heard of than any other poster on this site. Kudos.


Comment more pls

Ha, I'm always looking up things y'all have posted about. And there's seemingly a lurking actual expert on everything! (Or do you suppose some people have a google alert for their pet topics?) And books you recommend. I actually found myself reading "Soul on Ice" this week thanks to one of the commenters. Far more engaging, in parts, than I would have guessed. In fact, in my first stab at commenting on L'Affaire Lebron, I realized I was cribbing pretty directly from Eldridge Cleaver, and deleted it.

Mr. James forgot the adage: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

All celebrities should keep that in mind.

"I do not think that corporations, or for that matter athletes, should be motivated by dollars alone."

Totally agree about athletes, but is that really realistic for corporations? Ok even if there isn't exactly a legal obligation to pursue profits or shareholder value, it's kind of a long-run inevitability given that investors face somewhat of a collective action problem with ethical investing. Or do you just mean private corporations?

"but is that really realistic for corporations? "

Well, certainly a corporation tends to benefit more from long term thinking than short term thinking. Sometimes the long term thinking might involve avoiding the quick dollars that lead to later complications.

I remember a similar story line in the beloved daily comic strip Apartment 3-G, about a trio of career women who shared the eponymous apartment in Manhattan.

Anybody familiar with those loveable working gals will know what I mean.

Howard Cossell asked Muhammad Ali in 1966, "don't your think you owe the American public an apology for saying your ain't got nothing against them Viet Congs"? [I'm quoting from memory].

Apparently the "American Public" expected Ali to have a grudge against the Viet Congs [for doing what nationalists have always done everywhere].

Ali replied, "I'll be criticized for whatever I say or do so I might as well say and do what I believe is right".

As Elvis Presley said around the same time when some talking head asked him his opinion about Viet Nam, : "I'm just an entertainer".

But basically Ali didn't want to be conscripted into the White Man's army. His position was personal and practical rather than ideological. He left the legal issues to the lawyers.

Elvis also didn't want to be drafted. He was hornswaggled into it and the times weren't right for him to refuse.
If you chose to express political views you must expect flack.

Ali was a follower of Elijah Muhammed, the godfather of God Damn America! Celebrities are all Bolsheviks now.

Indeed he was. But his reasons were as I indicated, and as he himself clearly stated, personal and practical. He didn't want to be conscripted into the White Man's army to kill little brown or yellow men who done never called him "nigger" . Obviously, his position was "enhanced" by the various groups that rushed in to exploit his fame.
The Muslims were not the only group that didn't want Brothers to be drafted into the White Man's army. The Black Panthers Political Party insisted on the same.

As I sometimes do, I will recommend a book: Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, 1991, by Thomas Hauser.

Except for basketball, James is brain dead.

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