May 25, 2021 | 5:17pm | Updated May 25, 2021 | 5:18pm
It’s a pitiful thing to see a strong man cry. It’s a sickening thing to see a man body-slam himself, then twist his own arm behind his back and make himself tap out.
Wrestler turned actor John Cena may look like the Rock, but when it comes to China he’s Pee-Wee Herman. Doing an interview for his upcoming film “F9” in Taiwan, he referred to that free and thriving democratic island, which has had a separate government since 1949, as a “country” instead of as a province of China.
When this led to an “outcry,” meaning it displeased the Communist Party of China, alleged tough guy Cena mewled and groveled and begged for forgiveness.
It would have been an embarrassing display of cowardice for an asthmatic muskrat. But for Cena, whose brand is brawn? Really, what is the point of having muscles carved out of granite if your moral fortitude rates at the same level as overcooked linguine? Is the point of muscles to look better than the weaklings while you’re surrendering? If the concept of strength means anything, it isn’t the ability to move metal doughnuts on a bar. It’s the quality of standing up for your values, opposing bullying, defending the truth. If Cena had been in Tiananmen Square in 1989, he would have strode up to the row of tanks, picked up the guy standing in front of them, and deposited him directly in the nearest police station for questioning.
Cena volunteered for duty as a cog in the machinery of the Communist Party of China when he said, in the language of the world’s biggest oppressor, “I’m very, very sorry about my mistake. I apologize, I apologize, I’m very sorry . . . my apologies.” No 18th-century courtier, fraternity pledge or blob of plankton better exemplified spinelessness.
Remember 30 years ago, when we all said opening up ties with China would nudge the Commies into accepting Western values? Instead we’ve nudged ourselves into making any excuses that may be necessary to keep the dollars flowing. “Actually, authoritarian regimes that run slave-labor camps get a bad rap!”
China stuffs Muslims into re-education camps, ditches term limits so “president” Xi Jinping may serve for life, ignores democratic protests in Hong Kong and is putting the finishing touches on a surveillance state in which instantaneous detection and punishment will await anyone who breaks the rules. What are we doing about any of this? We’d be giving ourselves too much credit if we said, “Nothing.” We’re actively abetting China’s ruling oppressors.
LeBron James takes China’s side against Hong Kong, Nike removes sneakers from stores after their designer backs democracy and Disney strongarms an American magazine into removing an accurate quotation from an interview in which its star filmmaker Chloe Zhao (the director of “Nomadland”) criticized her native land for spreading “lies everywhere.”
Hollywood, big-time sports, Silicon Valley: gosh, what do they all have in common? They’re full of outrage when it comes to supposed flaws in the American system. When it comes to the abuses of an actual authoritarian state, though, suddenly they go silent about human rights and democracy. Remember when the people heading our leading institutions actually understood why we’re better than other countries?
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