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willbobaggins's Shortform

Last week I talked with Freddie deBoer about his book Cult of Smart on my podcast. Anyone else read it? What did everyone think? https://narrativespodcast.com/2021/02/08/28-the-cult-of-smart-with-freddie-deboer/

Cowering To Genocide: Uighur Persecution And The World’s Last Hope

Viliam/Mitchell-thank you both for reading!

I'm with Viliam-happy to debate terms/use less hyperbole, but very bad things are happening to Uighurs in Xinjiang right now. The purpose of this post is to encourage people to think of solutions outside of what is currently being done because none of it seems to be working. 

This might not be the correct solution, but at the very least folks need to know that it is possible to stop, the terrible things happening right now to people in Xinjiang. 

If you believe you can make a positive change in the world, ... (read more)

4Mitchell_Porter9moLet's compare this goal of "stopping genocide in Xinjiang" with, say, the goal of "stopping famine in Yemen". The Uighurs are governed by a state which is not within the American sphere of influence. Famine in Yemen is the product of a Saudi blockade that is strategically supported by the United States, because it opposes the expansion of the Iranian sphere of influence. It would make slightly more sense to use the NBA to prevent famine in Yemen, since the United States really does have political leverage there. But nothing would actually change unless some faction of America's powerbrokers decided to change the policy. (By the way, I don't actually know that "famine in Yemen" is any more real than "genocide in Xinjiang". I'm sure they're having food shortages, but is it actual starvation? I haven't done the research.) The "genocide in Xinjiang" is nonexistent, it's a propagandistic construct manufactured by the enemies of China. To speak of "human rights violations" would at least have some truth, but it still evades the question of why they are occurring. Xinjiang has a history of separatist movements, and in this generation, that includes some jihadists. This is an era of Islamic militance, as events in France and Austria have just reminded us. And Xinjiang is also a crucial node in the development of economic ties between China and the Islamic world; hostile powers like America and India want this to fail. So of course China's social engineers are there in force, trying to make the troublesome 10% into patriotic consumers or whatever, while police and spies crack down on the real resistance and on foreign subversion. You may not want to hear this, but the quickest way for repression to end is for Uighur resistance to end. Maybe Turkey and the OIC can negotiate a culturally sensitive compromise. But what role does America have in this situation? Trump had an advisor (Carter Page) who counselled economic and strategic cooperation among Russia, China, and Americ
Cowering To Genocide: Uighur Persecution And The World’s Last Hope

I'm definitely afraid that this is the most likely outcome. It's a classic collective action problem. It's interesting that the NBA will take action on social issues, but you could look at those and say they'll only do it if it helps them financially, not if it will actually affect the bottom line. It would take concerted efforts from players (such as Enes Kanter) to get them to do anything. You would only have to convince 400 people in the league to make something like this happen-much smaller than trying to move the state dept. etc. 

You may be corre... (read more)

2En9moI think 100m is overstating the hardcore fan base by at least a factor of 10. You can do some fermi analysis to come up with a better ballpark number. Start with the middle class, further segment by young males, further segment by interest in NBA, then multiply by a hardcore fan factor ratio, which you could estimate by taking the ratio in the USA and applying a discount rate.
Cowering To Genocide: Uighur Persecution And The World’s Last Hope

Also, I should mention, ideas that you think might have a higher chance of working are encouraged! This is a problem I think about a lot. 

4En9moThanks for your response! I've worked in and around China for a long time and also read extensively on China (highly recommend "The Party" by Richard McGregor). So while I am not an expert by any means, I have at least a base of knowledge and experience more than the average joe. Honestly, the NBA doesn't have the moral compass to take this sort of action, nor does really any large US corporation. Even Google only pulled out of China when it didn't matter. They were so behind in search and maps in Baidu, so when they left "due to censorship", it didn't affect their bottom line at all. Also, people just don't care as much about sports in China as in the US. Yeah, there are 600 million "fans", but we are using that word in the broadest sense. The most hardcore of these will find ways to watch games if they are banned, the rest will just shrug it off. Even Apple, perhaps the most loved western brand in China, could be banned tomorrow and 90% of Apple users would just shrug and switch to a Huawei phone. Perhaps I'm jaded, but I am not optimistic that anything can or will be done at this point, and certainly not from the private sector. In the public sector... western governments have failed so miserably at COVID that controlling it and recovering from the economic impacts are all they will care about in the next five to ten years. The eastern democracies that have handled COVID well are too economically tethered to China. They might make some noises, but won't take any real action.
Cowering To Genocide: Uighur Persecution And The World’s Last Hope

Thanks for taking the time to really engage with the post. This is the strongest argument against this, that'd they would just shut it off and folks really wouldn't care. They did blackout some games, upload feeds later after they could make sure materials were scrubbed of #freehongkong, etc. A think a longer-term, more comprehensive ban would make people more upset. 

This idea is not even really a solution, it's more like a hail mary pass when you're down 8 with 3 minutes left. Will it work? Probably not, but it sure is higher than running the ball (e... (read more)

3willbobaggins9moAlso, I should mention, ideas that you think might have a higher chance of working are encouraged! This is a problem I think about a lot.