Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr met with a wave of social media condemnation — and a swift dose of reality — after he accused Vice President Mike Pence of lying about Iran’s involvement in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
On Saturday, Pence tweeted that Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani “assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States” — a tweet that met with criticism from left-leaning commenters who claimed Pence miscounted the number of 9/11 hijackers, that Soleimani would not have helped Al Qaeda, and that Iran assisted the United States in the days following the attacks.
Pence’s spokesperson added context to the tweet in a later message of her own, noting that “the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), under Soleimani’s leadership, knowingly allowed 12 of the 9/11 hijackers to transit to Afghanistan.”
Indeed, the State Department seems to support the annotated version of Pence’s tweet, according to Fox News, but the mere tweet was enough to set Kerr off, who compared Pence’s comments on 9/11 to the Bush Administration’s campaign to invade Iraq, which included claims of “weapons of mass destruction” under Iraqi control, and to the war in Vietnam.
“One thing I’ve learned in my lifetime is to not believe our government when it comes to matters of war,” Kerr tweeted. “Johnson and Nixon lied about Viet Nam. Bush and Cheney lied about WMD’s in Iraq. Now Pence is lying about Iran/Soleimani’s supposed involvement in 9/11.”
One thing I've learned in my lifetime is to not believe our government when it comes to matters of war. Johnson and Nixon lied about Viet Nam. Bush and Cheney lied about WMD's in Iraq. Now Pence is lying about Iran/Soleimani's supposed involvement in 9/11. https://t.co/jm3oex867A
— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerr) January 3, 2020
It’s odd that Kerr commented so forcefully on a public, political matter given that just a few short weeks ago, he was cautioning his colleagues in the NBA to exercise restraint when speaking about China and the pro-democracy protests still ongoing in Hong Kong.
The NBA took swift action against Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey after he tweeted in support of the pro-democracy (and anti-China) movement in Hong Kong, likely to preserve the NBA’s lucrative deals with the Chinese government and companies headquartered (and doing billions of dollars in business) within the Communist country. Typically outspoken NBA figureheads, like Kerr and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, were noticeably silent on the issue, even though the NBA was acting at the behest of a foreign country to quash the free speech of its own players and administration.
At the time, Kerr was particularly prickly about the matter.
“A lot of us don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I’m reading about … but I’m not going to comment,” Kerr said. “What I’ve found is that it’s easy to speak on issues that I’m passionate about and that I feel like I’m well-versed on, and I’ve found that it makes the most sense to stick to topics that fall in that category.”
Ultimately, Kerr called the issues between China and Hong Kong a “really bizarre international story.”
Saturday, more than a few of Kerr’s critics on social media remembered his cautionary words.
“How’s your research on Chinese authoritarianism going?” tweeted Fox News host Guy Benson. “Any update to your comments?”
how’s your research on Chinese authoritarianism going? any update to your comments?
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 4, 2020
“Oh, hey look who has rediscovered he has strong opinions about geopolitical issues,” added the Washington Examiner’s Becket Adams.
oh hey look who has rediscovered he has strong opinions about geopolitical issues. https://t.co/Zqacltm7Bd
— 𝚒'𝚖 𝚊 𝚑𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚠𝚊𝚢 𝚝𝚜𝚊𝚛 (@BecketAdams) January 4, 2020
Kerr has not elaborated on his expert analysis.