Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is living proof of the old aphorism that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
The faux social activist made headlines this week after he declined to answer a simple question about the NBA siding against the pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters.
Kerr then made matters worse for himself Thursday by arguing there is essentially no difference between the United States and communist China. After all, Kerr explained, America has gun violence. That somehow justifies China's brutal repression of its religious minorities and against Hong Kongers defending their freedom.
Kerr was asked specifically whether he has been asked about human rights abuses during previous trips to China, a country in which the NBA has a significant financial stake.
“It has not come up in terms of people asking me about it, people discussing it,” the coach told reporters. “No.”
There was a brief pause. Then, he continued.
“Nor has [America’s] record of human rights abuses come up either. You know, things that our country needs to look at and resolve. That hasn’t come up either," Kerr added. "[P]eople in China didn’t ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall. I wasn’t asked that question."
Kerr’s remarks to reporters came amid a broader discussion of President Trump’s criticisms for the coach’s dodge on the Hong Kong question.
Trump said Wednesday of Kerr, a frequent critic of the president, that “he was like a little boy, he was so scared to be even answering the question. He couldn't answer the question.”
“He was shaking 'Oh, I don't know, I don't know,'” the president added. “He didn't know how to answer the question. And yet, he'll talk about the United States very badly.”
For the record, this is what Kerr said earlier this week about the NBA siding with the communist Chinese:
" It’s a really bizarre international story. A lot of us don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I’m reading about, just like everybody is, but I’m not going to comment further than that.
What I’ve found is that it’s easy to speak on issues that I’m passionate about 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. So I try to keep my comments to those things and so it’s not difficult. It’s more I’m just trying to learn.
My brother-in-law is actually a Chinese history professor and I emailed him today to tell me what I should be learning about all this and what’s happening and so I’m trying to learn just like everybody else. "
On Thursday, Kerr made things so much worse for himself and his team by telling reporters that China's long history of state-sponsored brutality and oppression is not unlike some of the problems plaguing the U.S.
"[N]one of us are perfect, and we all have different issues that we have to get to, and saying that is my right as an American," he said. "Doesn’t mean that I hate my country. It means I want to address things, right?”
He added, “So we can play this game all we want and go all over the map and, you know, there’s this issue and that issue. The world is a complex place, and there’s more gray than black and white.”
I knew the NBA and the little men who serve as its various cogs and gears were beholden in some way to Chinese blood money. I just did not expect to hear one of them make the argument so soon that there is essentially no difference between the country that allows its citizens to speak freely and arm themselves and the country that has 3 million people in concentration camps for their religion. I did not think I would have to say this at any point in my life but, no, gun violence in America is not comparable to China’s 70-year history of state-sponsored genocide.
The U.S. is a damaged but fundamentally good country. China, whose government has murdered tens of millions of people over 70 years and imprisons millions more today, is evil. This is not hard.
The fact that Kerr is comfortable criticizing America, all while carefully avoiding saying anything that can be construed as a criticism of China, should tell him a little something about the difference between the two countries. But that would require a certain amount of self-awareness and intelligence, neither of which appear to be his strong suit.