As the NBA celebrated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Golden State Warriors minority owner Chamath Palihapitiya suggested that no one cared about a present-day civil rights catastrophe happening in China.
Speaking on his All-In Podcast, the 34-year-old venture capitalist repeatedly said, “Nobody cares about the Uyghurs.”
“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay,” Palihapitiya told his co-hosts. “You bring it up because you care, and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”
Owner of the @warriors🏀 says he doesn’t care about the Uyghurs.
The conversation goes downhill from there.@chamath…
– questions whether a genocide is actually happening
– says the CCP isn’t a dictatorship
– says the US is no better than the CCP pic.twitter.com/qAwi7hUPvo
— Michael Sobolik (@michaelsobolik) January 17, 2022
The US State Department issued a report in January 2021, confirming that since March 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has “has committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”
Palihapitiya’s comments caught fire on social media, prompting the Warriors to issue a statement Monday.
“As a limited investor who has no day-to-day operating functions with the Warriors, Mr. Palihapitiya does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization.”
Warriors statement re: Chamath Palihapitiya: pic.twitter.com/zUl6i9sOve
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) January 17, 2022
As criticism grew, Palihapitiya took to social media to respond.
“In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy. I acknowledge that entirely,” he wrote. “As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own set of human rights issues, so this is something that is very much a part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop.”
The NBA has found itself in hot water in the past, trying to balance its pro-social justice and human rights campaign in the US with its business dealings in China.
Boston Celtic center and recently inducted American citizen Enes Kanter has repeatedly called out the league, Nike, and LeBron James for not holding China accountable for the Uyghur genocide and took to Twitter in response to Palihapitiya’s comments.
“When @NBA says we stand for justice, don’t forget there are those who sell their soul for money & business like @chamath the owner of @warriors, who says “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs.”
“When genocides happen, it is people like this that let it happen.”
The NBA has not released a statement regarding Palihapitiya.