Billionaire tech entrepreneur and part-owner of the NBA Golden State Warriors Chamath Palihapitiya recently claimed that the United States did not have the moral authority to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses due to American prison conditions and other problems found in the U.S., as a result, he did not care about the problems facing Uyghurs in China. He also claimed that issues like climate change and America’s healthcare system were more important to focus on than the plight of millions of Muslims being targeted for their ethnicity in China.
The NBA has been under criticism for continuing business with China and refusing to speak out against a myriad of issues plaguing the communist state while numerous star athletes and coaches, including the Warriors’ Steve Kerr, have blasted the U.S. for supposed systemic racism in policing and other areas of government.
Palihapitiya’s comments came during Sunday’s edition of the “All-In Podcast,” a show he co-hosts with industry colleagues Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, and David Friedberg. Calacanis, for his part, pushed back against Paliapitya saying that the CCP’s imprisoning of more than 1 million Uyghurs was comparable with the Holocaust and that his accusations against America were disproportionate.
While discussing President Joe Biden’s potential 2024 chances, Calcanis praised the president for “the fact that he came out with a statement on the Uyghurs” that was “very strong.” Calcanis noted that support for it was “not coming up in the polls.”
In late December 2021, Biden signed a bill banning American companies from importing materials from the region where Muslim Uyghurs are currently imprisoned, indoctrinated, and abused by the CCP.
At that point, Palihapitiya interjected, “Let’s be honest. nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? You bring it up because you really care and I think that’s nice that you really care –”
“What? Do you mean that you don’t care?” Calcanis interrupted.
“The rest of us don’t care,” Palihapitiya said bluntly.
“I’m telling you a very hard ugly truth, okay? Of all the things that I care about, yes it is below my line, okay? Of all the things that I care about, it is below my line,” Palihapitiya continued.
“Disappointing,” Calcanis said remorsefully.
The initial comments were flagged by The Washington Examiner’s Jerry Dunleavy and can be seen here:
“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? … I’m telling you a very hard ugly truth… Of all the things I care about, yes it is below my line.”
—Chamath Palihapitiya (billionaire CEO of Social Capital & part owner of Golden State Warriors)pic.twitter.com/gPGLpg4vgO
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) January 17, 2022
As the conversation continued, the podcast hosts entered into a debate comparing the moral authority of the U.S. to the CCP.
“Well, I think people if you explain to them what’s happening to the Uyghurs in China, they care but it’s not top of mind for them,” Sacks tried to explain. “What’s on their mind right now is they go to their grocery store and the shelves are empty .”
“That’s not caring,” Palihapitiya explained, “Sure that I care about, yeah I care about the fact that our economy could turn on a dime if China invades Taiwan I care about that. I care about climate change, you know I care about a bunch I care about America’s crippling and you know decrepit healthcare infrastructure, but if you’re asking me do I care about a segment of a class of people in another country? Not until we can take care of ourselves will I prioritize them over us. And I think a lot of people believe that and I’m sorry if that’s a hard truth to hear but every time I say that I care about the Uyghurs, I’m really just lying if I don’t really care. And so I’d rather not lie to you and tell you the truth it’s not a priority for me.”
The host and former Facebook executive continued, stating, that until America “actually [cleans] up our own house, the idea that we step outside of our borders with, you know, with us sort of, like, morally virtue signaling about somebody else’s human rights track record is deplorable.”
“Look at the number of black and brown men that are incarcerated for the absolutely ridiculous crimes,” he continued. I don’t know if you saw this past week, but there is a person that was released from jail because he couldn’t even be protected in jail because in some of these cells they run these fight clubs inside of Rikers Island that are basically tacitly endorsed by the corrections officers that don’t do anything.”
“So if you want to talk about the human rights of people, I think we have a responsibility to take care of our own backyard first, first, and then we can go and basically morally tell other people how they should be running their own countries,” he added.
Calcanis pushed back stating, “the difference is, Chamath, saying what you just said in China or Saudi Arabia would put you in jail and get you 100 lashes and you would be tortured for a decade.”
“We here in the United States are far from perfect, we still have the death penalty which is against the United Declaration of Human Rights, Which we signed which Eleanor Roosevelt created it in the [United Nations] and we propagated it as Americans around the world,” Calcanis added. “We started that, Chamath.”
“And we can have these discussions about being better in this country, and the what about-ism that you’re proposing is so disproportional to the equivalent of the Holocaust going on — we’re talking about a million Uyghurs in concentration camps right now — to talk about what we have here that we need to fix and compare it to that or to Saudi Arabia whipping bloggers and throwing gay people off roofs for being gay, these two things are not morally comparable,” the entrepreneur exasperatingly said. “They are very far and we need to have open discussions and talk about human rights all the time because if we do not talk about it all the time then your position which is, ‘I don’t have time for that I want to solve my problems,’ then gives the green light to dictators everywhere that nobody’s watching.”
The conversation continued with Chamath claiming that the Uyghur concentration camps were not anywhere near the same level as the Holocaust before devolving into a larger discussion over whether standing for human rights is important and whether or not China’s government is dictatorial.
Currently, it is estimated there are more than 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.
The entire conversation can be seen below: