ESPN logo and building are shown in down town Los Angeles, California (Mike Blake/Reuters)

ESPN featured a sports pundit Friday who said it’s hypocritical for Americans to be preoccupied with China’s egregious human rights violations in the context of the Beijing Olympic Games given Republican “assaults on voting rights” and racial injustices in the United States.

During an appearance on Around The Horn on ESPN, J. A. Adande, a former writer for the network and the Director of Sports Journalism at Northwestern University, said the U.S. should examine its own behavior and treatment of its people before attacking China.

“Who are we to criticize China’s human rights record when we have ongoing attacks by the agents of the state against unarmed citizens and we’ve got assaults on the voting rights of our people of color in various states in this country,” he said. “So in sports, I think it’s possible and it’s necessary more than ever to shut everything out if you are to enjoy the actual games themselves.”

He suggested that it’s important to separate the competitions from the political questions tagged onto them, which can set a near impossible benchmark for acceptability that interfere with playing the sports.

I think it’s standard in sports right now. You have to have a cognitive dissonance. You need to compartmentalize. We’ve never had a more enjoyable NFL playoffs in this country and we never had more people watching the playoffs and it goes on amid the ongoing allegations against Dan Snyder on the Washington Football team…and now the concerns about diversity and…questions about competitive integrity even, and yet we’re still enjoying the games.

Host Tony Reali pointed out the severity of the allegations against the Chinese regime and the International Olympic Committee’s intentional decision to select Beijing as the venue despite the mounting evidence of China’s abuses.

“We’re talking about genocide,” Reali said.

“It’s very hard to find a country that isn’t problematic when it comes to human rights, including here. Remember, we had athletes boycott going to Mexico City because of the human rights issues in the United States in 1968,” Adande added.

“I think we can bring attention to it. I think it’s notable that we had a Uyghur lighting the torch,” he said.

The offenses of which Beijing has been accused include squashing the Hong Kong democracy movement, especially with its latest national-security law that criminalizes certain speech and erodes press freedoms, oppressing Tibetans, and perpetrating a genocide against the Uyghur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region.

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