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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Largescale Protests In China Over Zero-COVID Policy Restrictions; Interview With U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo About Competing With China; Interview With Nobel Peace Prize Winner Maria Ressa. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 04, 2022 - 10:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.


ZAKARIA: Today on the program clamoring for change in China. Protests have sprouted up across the country calling for an end to Beijing's highly restrictive zero COVID policy.

What would come of the unrest? Will the demonstrators get what they want? We will get the latest from "Newsweek's" Melinda Liu.

Then Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on how the U.S. can counter China economically. Also 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa shares important lessons on how to fight for freedom.

MARIA RESSA, 2021 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: It reminds me of that Milan Kundera quote, "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

ZAKARIA: It is a fight she knows all too well.


ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. Over the past few months we've worried a great deal about the fragility of democracy. From the United States and Brazil to Sweden and Italy, the system seemed to be facing real challenges. In fact, in all of these cases, elections have had the effect of taming many of the most illiberal forces. And at least for now the center has held.

Meanwhile, we're seeing in some of the world's most powerful autocracies signs of deep and structural weaknesses. The most striking example is China where an extraordinary wave of protests is confronting the powers that be. At the heart of the problem is the unwillingness of the central government to end its zero COVID policy. This is a problem inherent in dictatorships where decision-making is closed, hierarchical and unaccountable.

Unlike autocrats, democratic leaders face persistent pressure to change policy. There's loud and noisy criticism of the government. Outside experts and observers present alternative strategies. Leaders know they face elections. So if things aren't working out, policies have to change or else they will be changed.

These problems have become harder in modern societies. Consider the difference between China during the student led Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989 and today. In the late 1980s the number of college educated urban Chinese was probably in the few millions. Today more than 200 million Chinese people have a college education, and they have smart phones and know how to use them.

Even the legendary great firewall with its army of over two million censors struggles to keep up with the torrent of images and messages being created on Chinese social media. In recent years we have tended to focus on the many problems caused by social media. We've forgotten that the fundamental effect of these new technologies is to empower individuals.

In Russia we see how a similarly closed and unresponsive decision- making process can lead to disaster. As a result of Putin's war his country is becoming increasingly isolated and impoverished. He recently mobilized 300,000 reservists, many reluctant to fight in Ukraine. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of Russians have fled their homeland including many of the highly skilled and educated people who Russia needs for its future.

Democracies do go to war, even pointless and costly wars, but always amid dissent and debate, and for those who oppose the war, there remains always the reasonable hope that the policy or the policymaker can be changed.

In Iran we see a theocratic autocracy determined to maintain its ideological control of the country. Iran's ruling elites believe that their fundamentalist version of Islam must be enforced or else they will go the way of the Soviet commissars. By contrast liberal democracies don't try to impose preferred ideologies on their populations.


This approach has sometime been caricatured as value neutral but it's not. At its core is the deep abiding belief that human beings should have the freedom to choose their own personal form of happiness and to respect that others will have their own definitions of a good life.

Autocracies can seem impressive for a while because they can be steady, consistent, and ruthless in reaching goals. But they face a fundamental challenge. They struggle to accommodate themselves to a changing society.

China was an exception for a while having created a rare form of dictatorship that was consensus based, technocratic and responsive. But under Xi Jinping it has reverted to something closer to the autocratic norm. And an autocrats' reflexive response to change is repression which can only work for so long. It is astonishing to remember that when America's founding fathers

were constructing their experiment in government, they were virtually alone in a world of monarchies. These politicians were drawing on the writings of Enlightenment intellectuals such as Montesquieu and John Locke, studying historical examples from ancient Greece and Rome, and embracing key elements of English governance and common law, but they were mostly making it up in their heads. They had failures. Their first effort, the Articles of Confederation collapsed.

In the end, however, they concocted something stunning, a system that protected individual rights, allowed for regular changes in leadership, prevented religious hegemony, and created a structure flexible enough to adapt to massive changes.

Democracy is fragile in its own way, but this is a good moment to consider its strengths. This abstract idea of government largely created by America, borrowed over the years by countless other nations, refined and improved in various ways, has spread across the world in countries rich and poor, European, Asian, Latin American, and African. It has stood the test of time for 2 1/2 centuries.

Does anyone think that the Russian or Chinese or Iranian systems will endure as long? Winston Churchill has surely been vindicated in his belief that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.

Go to for a link to my "The Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

The nationwide protests that started in China last weekend are the most widespread the country has seen since 1989. That unrest, of course, tragically ended with the Chinese military's brutal and deadly clearing of Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Flash forward to the present, CNN has verified 28 protests in 19 cities since last Saturday. This despite the fact that police presence in all major cities has been tightening since Monday and thus large scale protests have died out.

This is, of course, in a country where freedom of speech is not a thing. But the protesters took to the streets anyway to express their anger over China's incredibly restrictive zero COVID policy. Apartment buildings, apartment blocks, even whole cities have been locked down for weeks, sometimes months. And at times during the pandemic vast swaths of China have been locked down all at once, all in the name of stopping the spread of the disease.

So there is anger and it is now out on the streets. I want to bring in my former colleague, Melinda Liu. We've worked together at "Newsweek" many moons ago and she's the outlet's Beijing bureau chief.

Melinda, welcome. First, what can you tell us as far as the latest? Does it seem that these protests are dying down because of a mixture of oppression and I have to say some easing of the zero COVID policy?

MELINDA LIU, BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF, NEWSWEEK: Hi, Fareed. And thanks for having me on. I think for the moment the streets seem to be quiet or at least according to what I know. But let's face it, this is a big country, a lot of people. 1.3 billion people. And there's really no transparency into what ordinary folks think. Obviously the outbreak of protests was startling to everyone especially the leadership.

They probably thought they had it in the bag, you know, after the big party Congress in October. Xi Jinping got his norm-busting third term, and many of his official rivals would have been co-opted, purged, detained, or just intimidated. But the people in the streets made their voices known and what was unusual, very rare about it is not only did some of them call for Xi Jinping himself and for the Communist Party to be toppled, but these were in cross provincial outbreaks of protests.


So that makes it highly unusual and very worrisome to the regime.

ZAKARIA: Some of it was sparked by the World Cup, right? I mean, there is this -- I think the Chinese saw the rest of the world at the World Cup and were startled.

LIU: Yes. In fact, some of my Chinese friends are calling the World Cup effect. Why? Well, for those of us who watch China professionally it's easy to focus on elite politics, the leaders. You know, recently we had the death of the former president (INAUDIBLE). But there are many, many Chinese who probably -- barely remember what (INAUDIBLE) looked like. They're young. They might be working in factories.

In terms of the World Cup audience they tend to be male. They tend to be competitive. Maybe the type of person who might jump up and go out and act on their emotions, and there are half a billion of them who are interested in watching the World Cup. That is the audience in China.

So what happened was they're all looking forward to, you know, being entertained at least by watching something on the screen, but the first thing they see in the very beginning was, oh, my god, there's an audience there and they're in person, and they're shouting and screaming and having fun and watching sports, and they're not wearing masks which, of course, you know, to a country where like one quarter of the population is in some kind of lockdown and masks are mandatory just about everywhere, that was a wakeup call.

And I have friends who told me that was the moment where a lot of ordinary folks, not necessarily the intelligence, yes, or the elite, but ordinary folks looked at each other and said, oh, my god, we've been tricked. And they don't like that.

ZAKARIA: And is it your sense, Melinda, that they're quietly easing up on some of the restrictions? Do you see that effect?

LIU: Absolutely. What is -- number one it's actually some places are opening up with startling abruptness, I would say. Others are not. And so what we have is a kind of a dis-coordinated city by city or region by region or even district by district relaxation of the various -- what had been various stringent and various sort of pervasive anti- COVID protocols. So, for example, in Beijing, which is what I can speak about with most authority because this is where I am and when I'm on the streets I can see it myself.

Suddenly it was announced that public transport, meaning the subways, the buses, you no longer have to show evidence of a negative COVID test because in many cases you have to show a negative COVID test within 48 hours. And so suddenly the city said it -- no one can prohibit you from getting onto public transport if you don't have that. OK, fine. But the problem is the stores still require it, the restaurants -- the ones that are open still require it. Many of them not even open yet. They're just doing takeout.

And so you get this kind of discombobulation. Other cities are doing other things. Nonetheless, I think eventually we'll see the evolving of good-bye zero COVID and long live the economy. The message we're getting now is, OK, folks, our economy is in bad shape and we need to focus on getting it back on track.

ZAKARIA: I have about 30 seconds left, but I have to ask you. People think that this is a race to the MRNA vaccine, that the Chinese are creating their own MRNA vaccine. Once they have it, they'll vaccinate the whole population and China will be back. Does that strike you as plausible?

LIU: I think some people would hope that that could happen. Certainly the race for a homegrown MRNA vaccine has been going on. But it has not succeeded as quickly as authorities would like, and it also takes a little while for vaccines to become effective, and there is actually especially among older people a sort of vaccine resistance, a sort of vaccine skepticism.

I think sometimes you can use it as a symbol of skepticism about government services, but they're probably going to have maybe give out a few gifts or maybe use a little bit of creative coercion to get some of the older folks to get vaccinated.


ZAKARIA: Melinda Liu, pleasure to have you on. Fascinating insights. Stay safe. Thanks so much.

LIU: Thanks so much, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, Gina Raimondo on how to tackle China economically.


ZAKARIA: President Biden has said the United States is seeing stiff competition from China to be the most powerful country in the world. In response, the Biden administration has taken significant steps to maintain a high tech edge over China.

[10:20:04] The Commerce Department has imposed export restrictions to block China from getting the most advanced microchip technology, and the CHIPS and Science Act passed this summer allocates tens of billions of dollars to bolster U.S. chip production. The Commerce Department is also overseeing that program.

Well, joining me now is the woman who leads the Commerce Department, Gina Raimondo. She gave a speech on Wednesday at MIT that laid out the administration's strategy to counter China.

Madam Secretary, thank you for coming on the program.


ZAKARIA: When you -- we hear a lot about China these days, and some of it is about the way in which China is outcompeting the United States, but a lot increasingly is about China's weakness. The economic growth is slowing down, the zero COVID policy is turning out to be a disaster. They have demographic problems. They seem to be turning on their own tech sector. So when you look at China, are you struck most by China's strength or by its weakness?

RAIMONDO: Well, when I think about it I think about what America has to do, and the speech that I gave was, you know, a proactive, offensive, comprehensive, economic competitiveness strategy on behalf of the United States.

As you know, Fareed, for some years now leaders in China have been pushing a narrative that the east was rising and the west was on the decline. And certainly I don't see that. I don't see that at all. I agree with you that China has its share of challenges at the moment, but when I look at the United States, I see a country investing, you know, in the past 20 months under the president's leadership we've invested over a trillion dollars in our infrastructure, in ourselves, in our innovation.

I see an unbelievably talented workforce. Some of the biggest most profitable entrepreneurial companies in the world. So I see an America that is very much strong and getting stronger, and very much able to compete effectively with China.

ZAKARIA: In the 1980s and early '90s people had very similar fears about Japan taking economic and technology primacy, in fact centering around the same industry that you talk about in your speech, the semiconductor industry and the trade representative there would talk in very similar terms about what needed to be done. Those fears turned out to be overblown when looking back 30 years later. Is it possible that 30 years from now we'll look back and think these fears of China were overblown?

RAIMONDO: Of course that is possible, although I -- you know, given China's scale and size and willingness to do whatever it takes to promote their own industries, I don't think that the comparison there is necessarily perfect. But I will say this. Our strategy, our economic strategy isn't about slowing China down at all. It's about investing in America so we can maintain our edge. And as it relates to the export controls, which we're leading here at

the Commerce Department, that's not designed to slow China down either. What it's designed to do is protect American technology from getting into the hands of the Chinese military and the Chinese government who wants our most sophisticated technology to advance their military.

ZAKARIA: A lot of investors have soured on China over the last few years because their feeling that Xi is privileging the state over the market. He has kind of an industrial policy that he calls made in China. And at the same time it does seem to me sometimes that the Biden administration is sort of taking a page out of Xi's playbook with our own industrial policy.

What I'm wondering is, is that the right approach? You know, for example, you're showering money on a company like Intel, which has failed to compete with TSMC in making the world's highest quality chips. As a result of that they're getting massive federal subsidies. Is that rewarding failure?

RAIMONDO: I don't think so. First, let me say something clearly. There is a massive difference between the CHIPS Act that you referenced, which is investing in America and incentivizing domestic production of chips. That is one strategy versus what China does, which is completely different. You know, what they engage in whether it's IP theft or, you know, just tilting the playing field so unfairly against American companies, denying market access, non-trade market barriers, massive subsidy to their own industries, that's an utterly different strategy, and I don't think anyone could say America that that's apples and apples.


As it relates to what we are doing, the reality is we need these companies to build these fabs (PH) in the United States of America, and it is more expensive to do that here relative to, say, Taiwan. You know, labor is more expensive here for good reason. Construction is more expensive, and the reality is right now, Fareed, look, I don't think anybody loves providing taxpayer money to large profitable companies, but the reality is that for our national security we are in an untenable position buying all of the most sophisticated chips that we need from Taiwan and Korea.

It's a national security risk that's untenable, and so what we're doing here is saying providing incentives to invest in the United States of America. By the way, you mentioned Intel. It's not a forgone conclusion that any particular company will receive a particular amount of money. This is a competition. We're going to hold, you know, companies accountable for taxpayer money, but we need to make these investments.

ZAKARIA: Stay with us. Next on GPS, I will ask Secretary Raimondo among other things whether she's considering a run for the White House if President Biden bows out.


ZAKARIA: And we are back with the United States Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo. Madam Secretary, in your speech one of the clarion calls you have is for immigration, the value of immigration, celebrating how important it is particularly in this issue of competitiveness, get the best and brightest, keep them here. And yet when I look at the Biden administration's immigration policy on something like H-1B visas, which is the high skilled visas, it's not that different from the Trump administration. It hasn't really reversed many of the Trump era kind of caps on it.

Do we need more high skilled immigration in this country to properly compete? Right now in Canada a high skilled worker can simply apply for immigrant status by himself without even having a company sponsoring him. Whereas in the U.S. you have a lottery system where you just -- you kind of have to get lucky to get a visa to work in the United States.

RAIMONDO: Yes. The answer is yes. And, by the way, I appreciate you bringing that up because, you know, right now we have 300,000 Chinese students studying in American universities. That is a good thing. We want them here. There's no place for any kind of discrimination or xenophobia in our policies.

And yes, we do need more -- we need to make it easier, as you say, to have high skilled immigrants come to America, stay in America, and help us. In fact, I would argue, you know, that's the American story, our whole story of how we continue to reinvent and lead the world is -- is in part because of immigration, because of our diversity. That is our great strength.

The politics as you know as well as I do, Fareed, are very challenging around immigration. I don't -- you know, I hear what you say about the president. I think, you know, Republicans in the Congress are challenging on this point. Every business leader I talk to small or large agrees -- President Biden agrees we need a more sensible immigration policy. By the way, you see that in the labor market which is still very tight.

So I hope we can find a way towards sensible immigration reform that does, as you say, welcome and make it easier to welcome, you know, high skilled folks from other countries to work and study in the United States.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you a question about the kind of international dimension of many of the policies you were talking about in your speech, the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS Act. A lot of European countries feel that what America is engaging in here is unilateralism and protectionism, that the buy America provisions in the Biden administration's program are actually even worse than the Trump tariffs because tariffs raised the price of foreign goods. Buy America provision means no matter what the price you cannot buy a foreign good. Every nail, every screw has to be made in America.

President Macron has surely been pressing President Biden about this these days. And what I've heard from Europeans is they say the U.S. wants to uphold a rule based international system they say against the Chinese who are trying to destroy it. But the U.S. is itself tearing up a rules based international system if it's going to engage in the kind of unilateralism and protectionism that is clearly a violation of the WTO.

RAIMONDO: Yes. I would really take issue with that characterization. President Biden has made it clear to us and his cabinet and to the country from day one that working with our allies in a multilateral fashion is an article of faith. And I think that it's been clear over and over again how we've reached out to our allies in Europe, in the Indo-Pacific to engage them.

In fact, Monday I will be hosting along with Tony Blinken the U.S.- E.U. Trade and Technology Council which we formed under President Biden's leadership to sit down and have continuous dialogue about working together on technology standards, exports, export controls, et cetera.


I will say -- you know, with respect to the IRA, you are correct that Europe is a bit frustrated with certain -- the provisions which Congress put in that law. But there again there are massive opportunities for Europe to benefit from the investments of the Inflation Reduction Act and in offshore wind, in batteries, in onshore wind, in solar. And we are talking to them -- in fact, I'm meeting today with the finance minister from France to talk exactly about that.

We will never agree completely on everything, but the fact of the matter is I think our relationship with Europe is stronger than it's been in years, and we will continue to sit at the table with them to work through these issues.

ZAKARIA: Madam Secretary, I have to ask you this. If President Biden were to announce that he is not going to run for re-election in 2024, lots of people think you would be an ideal candidate to be the Democratic Party's nominee. Would you be willing to step in if he said that he will not -- if he were not running would you run for the nomination?

RAIMONDO: No, that is not my plan. That is not what I will do. By the way, he -- I believe he is going to run and I so hope that he does. I think he's doing an extraordinary job uniting not only this country but our relationships with our allies. So I'm all in with him.

ZAKARIA: That was a pretty straightforward answer for a politician. Madam Secretary, pleasure to have you onboard.

RAIMONDO: Thanks, Fareed. Happy holidays.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, I will be joined by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa to discuss how she thinks dictators and tech companies are threatening the truth.



ZAKARIA: Nobel Peace Prize winning journalist Maria Ressa says the next two years will be critical ones for the global state of democracy. Ressa is the CEO and co-founder of Rappler, a digital news site in the Philippines, and a former CNN bureau chief. She became a target of her country's Department of Justice after Rappler investigated then President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly war on drugs. She currently faces about 100 years in prison for cyber libel and other charges.

In the face of her legal troubles, the Nobel committee bestowed the Peace Prize on Ressa for her efforts to safeguard freedom of expression. She has a new book out titled "How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future." Maria, welcome. Always a pleasure to have you on.

I want to get right to something that's at core of your book. You talk about how democracy can die a death of a thousand cuts. And the peculiar way it dies is that you have elected leaders who use laws to prosecute and oppress journalists. Describe how that happened in your case as an example.

MARIA RESSA, AUTHOR, "HOW TO STAND UP TO A DICTATOR": It's a combination of many things, you know? But I go back to what caused these cascading failures, what caused the weaponization of the law. It really is kind of this astroturfing, bottom up. When lies spread faster and further than facts on social media, so the information operations seeding a lie amid a narrative bottom up.

In my case, it was journalist equals criminal. And then the same lie coming a year later top down from President Duterte himself. A week later we got our first subpoena, there were 14 investigations, and then by January 2018 the first shutdown order for Rappler. It is the same methodology whether it is the Philippines against me or whether it is stop the steal in the United States.

ZAKARIA: You say that at the heart of the problem, the new problem of today is social media. Explain why.

RESSA: It's the way the cascading failures begin. I mean, if you think about it like this, right, if you have kids, you're watching this, and then you tell your kids, hey, lie all the time and I'll keep rewarding you. That's the incentive structure of our information ecosystem today. And this began when news organizations lost our gatekeeping powers to technology.

Technology abdicated responsibility. Their goal is to keep us scrolling on this, right? And how do they do that? They manipulated our biology. It is A/B testing.

What keeps us scrolling? Fear, anger, hate, us against them. And when you do that, you're mildly addicted. And then it keeps going. They change your world view and subsequently your actions through our emotions. And the other -- the other problem, of course, is that governments haven't done anything, have done very little to protect us. So this is a double whammy with this technology that is insidious -- insidiously manipulative. In the Nobel lecture I called it a behavioral modification system. That is what the facts, the data, the evidence shows us. And we are essentially Pavlov's dogs.

ZAKARIA: You say 2024 is a make-or-break year for the world really, for the fate of democracy.

RESSA: It's when there are enough illiberal leaders elected that they could together shift geopolitical power. It is the tipping point for the end of democracy, the rise of fascism.

I mean think about it like this. Would Belarus be a democracy today if Russia hadn't stepped in? I think the other part is take a look at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which is a grouping that was pulled together by China and Russia.


It uses technology for economic development, right? And then last September look at who they just brought in -- Turkey, Iran, Myanmar. So this is a kind of death by a thousand cuts globally. And if we don't change the pattern today, we see where it will lead. This becomes a critical moment for us.

ZAKARIA: The Philippines in a way is a kind of canary in the coal mine, right? Because in many ways you are a relatively free and open society in the middle of Asia. Do you think that the Philippines has been able to withstand and survive the challenge to liberal democracy that Duterte in some ways represented?

RESSA: I think death by a thousand cuts is, you know, like every cut you bleed out just a little bit, and you don't realize it but you're getting weaker. Where are we today? You know, President Duterte -- former President Duterte is being investigated by the ICC, the International Criminal Court. The first casualty in our battle for truth is a number of people killed in the brutal drug war.

We have now elected overwhelmingly, May this year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 36 years after the People Power Revolt that ousted his father for stealing $10 billion. This was the charge against him. And out of that maybe $4 billion has been recovered by the government since then. Well, his son and -- only son and namesake is now president.

That's an emblematic election of how information operations that began in 2014 literally changed history in front of our eyes. Turning Marcos from a pariah to a hero. It reminds me of that Milan Kundera quote, "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." Our information ecosystem can flip things, can shift our biology, and that has geopolitical impact.

ZAKARIA: The struggle of memory over forgetting, that is a really great quote. Maria Ressa, always a pleasure to have you on. The book is absolutely terrific, really a must-read. And your work is so precious. Keep doing it.

RESSA: Thanks for having me, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, World Cup mania is here and so is political controversy over host country Qatar. I'll talk about the history of sports and politics when we come back.



ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. The world's biggest sporting event is upon us, but alongside all the World Cup fever come a series of political controversies. One of those controversies revolves around FIFA threatening penalties against seven European teams if they wore arm bands emblazoned with the words "one love" during games. The teams wanted to broadcast a message of unity with the LGBT community as Qatar, this year's host, has long criminalized homosexuality.

It seems every time athletes express some kind of support for an idea or a value pundits and sometimes even world leaders warn against mixing politics and sports. But international sports events like the World Cup are by their very nature suffuse with politics. They usually have at their heart a kind of benign nationalism which is a political phenomenon.

Ancient rivalries play out on the field. Fans get rowdy when countries take on their former colonizers. Spectators rejoice seeing an Iranian and American player hug on the pitch. Indeed anyone who thinks that sports don't have a political dimension has never watched an India- Pakistan cricket match in either India or Pakistan.

Recall the Olympics held in 1936 in Nazi Germany. The party used it as a propaganda vehicle for the message of Aryan superiority. A message that was implicitly refuted when the Black American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens won four gold medals.

It's also not uncommon for countries to boycott the Olympics, like the Moscow games in 1980 with Jimmy Carter boycotted when the Soviet Union failed to meet a deadline to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Or last year when President Joe Biden staged a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing games over human rights abuses in China.

But, of course, it's not only committees and countries that make sports political, it's the athletes themselves. In the 1968 Mexico City Olympics the American track athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith famously stood on the podium after the 200 meter, fists raised in a Black power salute. Muhammad Ali made history when at the prime of his career he took a principle stand against fighting in Vietnam saying famously that he had no problem with the Viet Cong. They were not oppressing Blacks in America.

There was a direct line from those moments to more recent instances of sports activism like the American quarterback Colin Kaepernick's taking a knee in 2016 to protest police brutality. Or the Turkish American former NBA center Enes Kanter Freedom who spoke out against China's treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, that was despite the NBA's strong commercial ties to China and China's vast market of basketball fans.

Many of those actions had serious consequences. Carlos and Smith were shutout of Olympic events until 2016 for violating the international Olympic committee's rule against political demonstrations. Muhammad Ali was convicted of draft dodging and at his athletic prime banned from boxing for three years.


Colin Kaepernick was criticized by many from Donald Trump to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, though she eventually withdrew her criticism. The controversy basically destroyed Kaepernick's football career.

And all of these athletes were cautioned at some point by someone to keep sports out of politics. Again, what we failed to see in these cautions is how political sports already is. The fact that players play under their national flag and anthem is itself political. The decision to award World Cup, Olympics, and other hosting rights by country is a political process full of lobbying and allegations of bribery.

And we also fail to see that as a venue for protests, peaceful protests, sports offers a rare opportunity to project unity across borders. Muhammad Ali stood in unity with regular Vietnamese people thousands of miles away, Kanter with Uyghurs he has never met, and Kaepernick's stance in a quintessentially American sport has actually inspired athletes all over the globe to take a knee for their own liberal values in the years since.

Sports men and women are using their platforms to peacefully highlight their values. We should respect them for it.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.