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The crimes of Michael Jordan against the Socialist Commonwealth

October 2, 2004

I just ran across this, rather old, article. According to the author, "[Michael Jordan] represents the worst of America today: rampant individualism, profit without conscience, and a numbing culture of sanitized corporate homogeneity." The charges have been placed, and the verdict is in: Michael Jordan is an evil greedy capitalist pig, who is selfishly apolitical, and refuses to support hair-brained schemes for wealth-redistribution. Furthermore, he has the audacity to be a black man trying to make money who doesn't support racial demagogues like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. The nerve!

Let's ignore the talk about Jordan's sportsmanship, or whether or not he was the greatest basketball player, which is really something that most people can't form an intelligent position on (e.g., I can say he's the best I ever saw, but I never saw Wilt Chamberlain), and let's just focus on all of the evil things Michael Jordan has done. According to the author, Michael Jordan is guilty of the following capitalist sins against the conscience of the socialist majority:

  • Jordan "symbolized a corrupting star system in the NBA that blurs the line between sports and entertainment". That's funny: I thought the whole idea of sports is to have fun and to entertain. The NBA is a business. Without the business, the best talents nation-wide and world-wide wouldn't bother to go to the NBA, or maybe not even to play basketball.
  • Jordan has placed professional basketball "somewhere between college basketball and pro wrestling. They have good-guy teams and bad-guy teams, good-guy players and bad-guy players." This is sheer nonsense. Those steering the NBA follow what the fans want, not the other way around.
  • "Despite his humble Everyman image, Jordan can't suppress his ego." How dare he take personal pride in his accomplishments, instead of attributing to the Great Socialist Commonwealth!
  • "He even skipped an honorary team appearance at the White House in 1991 without giving an explanation." How dare he not bow down and worship the Gods that ruleth us all in D.C.!
  • "He is vain, too: even his famous shaved-head look was a convenient response to premature baldness." The nerve! To maintain his appearance in the way he sees fit. There should be a new law that balding people cannot shave their heads, because vanity must be criminalized.
  • "Any slight or criticism is cause for massive retaliation, as Sports Illustrated learned after it published an article in 1993 calling on him to abandon his ill-fated stint as a baseball player. For years, Jordan refused to talk to the magazine." The audacity! To resent other people telling him how to live his life! Doesn't he know that he has a duty to live his life so as to best please the rest of us, irrelevant of his own personal ends?
  • "In 1992, Jordan admitted to paying $165,000 in poker and golf debts to a pair of unsavory characters, one of whom was later murdered." Guilt by association. The fact that the person Jordan gambled with was "unsavory" and was later murdered is irrelevant. And even if he does have a gambling problem, it is hardly preventing him from putting food on the dinner table. The author seems to be really upset that Jordan is running his own life, and not letting the Sports tabloids run it for him.
  • "It was clear for weeks leading up to the election that the race would turn on a narrow margin, and it occurred to Gantt's [Democrat] backers that a certain beloved native of the state could make a huge impact on the race with a single quote or a brief photo op. So they approached Michael Jordan. Declining to get involved, Jordan offered this explanation: 'Republicans buy sneakers too.'" Jordan is hence guilty of being a black man and not supporting the same Democrats who want to loot from him the money he's earned. He is also guilty of not using his fame and success to influence people into voting for Democrats. Finally, he is guilty of the grievous crime of fulfilling his obligations to the shareholders of Nike by not making ill-conceived political statements. Could it just be that Jordan thinks that just because he's a celebrity, that doesn't necessarily mean he's a good authority on politics? Or maybe that people should think for themselves?
  • " There are signs that Jordan does indeed have a social conscience...There is no sign, however, that Jordan cares to enter the political arena. Asked last week whether he would become more active, Jordan answered: 'I can't save the world by no means.'"" You can tell much about the author by the term "social conscience". We can all be thankful that Jordan has stayed within the capitalist framework, and hasn't turned against the very system that has made him wealthy, like George Soros. Thankfully, Jordan has stayed relatively clear of the political arena, perhaps realizing that just because he's an amazing athlete and a celebrity doesn't mean he's in any way fit to run everyone elses' lives for them.
  • The author does concede " Yes, he has done his share of good works. Jordan has donated millions to charity and to his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. Every year he visits with dozens of dying children whose last wish it is to meet him." However, he reminds us that we should remember that "some giving is required of any celebrity wanting to avoid looking villainous." Well, at least Jordan has given away some of his money. Otherwise, we'd have to throw him in the bog (and if he sinks, he's innocent of being a capitalist, but if he floats, he's guilty and we have to burn him alive). I find it amusing that someone who has honestly earned his money is considered "villainous" if he doesn't give it away (presumeably to causes that socialists don't object to; I'm sure if he donated anything to the Mises Institute, they'd have to throw him in the bog). And, being a celebrity, he owes it to the rest of us to give away his money, because we "made" him what he is (that's funny, I thought that his hard work and natural talent produced a product which we voluntarily bought, thus he doesn't owe us anything).
  • "When asked in 1992 about the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, for instance, Jordan lamely replied: 'I need to know more about it.'" Check. Rather than admitting when he's not knowledgeable of a situation, thus cannot comment intelligently, he should consult the good book (Das Kapital) and provide the correct answer.
  • "Jordan has never complained about the $150 price tag on his Nike Air Jordan sneakers, which are targeted at the inner-city kids who can least afford them." The temerity! How dare Jordan not demand price-controls on shoes? Doesn't he know that price-controls will allow even the poorest of people to driver Mercedes, so they certainly can provide everyone with Air Jordan sneakers! And again, what arrogance and nerve, to fulfill his obligations to the shareholders of Nike.
  • " Most famous, however, is Jordan's great shoulder-shrug over Nike's allegedly exploitative labor practices in Southeast Asia. When the company first became the target of activist ire, Jordan said it wasn't his problem." How dare Michael Jordan not feel guilty that the good people at Nike have allowed Southeast Asian children to avoid lives of crime, prostitution, and starvation! And again, the nerve of (for the most part) honoring his obligations to shareholders.
  • "'He's more interested in his image for his shoe deals than he is in helping his own people,' [Jim] Brown said of Jordan in 1992." So, because he's black, and because he's successful, he apparently has some kind of obligation to all other black people (who have done precisely what for him?) We can be thankful that, unlike Jesse Jackson, Jordan hasn't done everything in his power to undermine the value of hard work among black people.
  • "'If [sports stars] can sell these wares with the power of their personas,' Jesse Jackson told the Washington Post in 1996, 'they also can sell civic responsibility with the power of their personas.'" Apparently, "civic responsibility" means supporting Jesse Jackson and other socialists and individuals who support "wealth redistribution", using one's position of influence as a celebrity to further the unfortunate attitude that it is ok to steal from the "rich", if it is for a "good cause" (e.g., welfare, reparations, social security, medicare, medicaide, war, etc).
  • In the author's one moment of sanity, he admitted that Jordan's statement to BET "My responsibility...has been to play the game of basketball and relieve some of the pressure of everyday life for people who work nine to five." is "Hardly a despicable credo."
  • However, the author immediately retreats from any hint of sanity and respecting the capitalist framework -- responsible for all of the good things that we enjoy -- and says "Yet if Jordan is in a position to give back so much more to the world that gave him fame, why not do it? He could insist, as Jim Brown has, on more blacks in sports management. He could press, as Jesse Jackson has, for more corporate hiring and investment in black communities. He could go after handguns with the considerable moral force of a man whose father was shot by teenagers." Firstly, the world hasn't "given" Michael Jordan fame, in the sense that he just woke up one day and he was famous. He earned fame through mutually beneficial transactions. People paid to watch him play basketball. The reason they wanted to watch him play basketball is because he developed his natural talents through hard work, and was entertaining to watch. People enjoy seeing something done very well. Secondly, we can all be thankful that Michael Jordan hasn't turned on the capitalist framework that allowed him to succeed, supporting violating the property rights of corporations by forcing them to promote more African Americans to management than they otherwise would. And we can commend Jordan for not trying to prevent people from exercising their right to arm themselves, even though he could have used his father's murder as a rationalization for doing so.

We could use more celebrities like Michael Jordan. People who realize that just because they're good at whatever it is they're celebrities for -- singing, sports, acting, etc -- doesn't mean they are qualified or justified in telling everyone else how to run their lives.

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