Pelosi tells US Olympic athletes not to criticize China

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Pelosi tells US Olympic athletes not to criticize China

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the motto of the Beijing Winter Olympics should be “Faster, Higher, Stronger — and Silent.”

The California Democrat reiterated Friday that American athletes should keep any unkind word about China’s repressive Communist government to themselves, repeating an admonition from the previous day.

“As I wish the athletes well, I do not encourage them to speak out against the Chinese government there because I fear for their safety if they do,” Pelosi said Friday, hours after the opening ceremony. “[To] remove all doubt about why I said they shouldn’t speak out, it’s because I fear for their safety.” 

Pelosi issued her initial warning Thursday during testimony at a Congressional-Executive Commission hearing on China. 

Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she discouraged US athletes competing in the Olympics from criticizing the Chinese government because she fears for their safety.
Twitter / @SpeakerPelosi

Pelosi noted that while the US has an obligation to call out Beijing over human rights violations committed against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups, Olympic athletes should steer clear of doing so. 

“If we do not speak out against human rights violations in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out against human rights violations anywhere,” said Pelosi, who then told the athletes: “Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless.”

Critics on both sides of the political aisle slammed Pelosi over her warning, citing the State Department deeming Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs to be genocide and noting that the US is leading a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games.

Olympics
Nancy Pelosi said that American athletes shouldn’t risk angering the Chinese government, comments that were widely condemned by figures from across the political spectrum.
EPA

Rev. Al Sharpton said on Friday’s edition of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he “respectfully disagrees” with Pelosi, adding you “cannot normalize what they’re doing in China.” 

“To go there and act like all is well is to normalize some very brutal, brutal behavior,” Sharpton said. “I think it would be incumbent on them to say, ‘This is not the way the world oughta be functioning.’” 

“So we’re supposed to leave our principles of protest when we check in at Customs? I don’t think so,” he added. “We need to let China know you live in a world where human rights is not negotiable.” 

Jesse Owens
One commentator said that if Nancy Pelosi were around for the 1936 Olympics, she would have told Jesse Owens to hail Hitler.
Bettmann Archive

More than one critic mused about what Pelosi would say to Jesse Owens, the black American sprinter who singlehandedly disproved Nazi theories of Aryan racial supremacy by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

“Nancy Pelosi would have recommended Jesse Owens give the Nazi salute in the Berlin Olympics,” tweeted Aaron Bear of the Center for Christian Virtue.

“In a world where you could be a Nancy Pelosi, be like Jesse Owens. Eff the CCP,” tweeted another user above a picture of Owens saluting the American flag on the medal stand in Berlin while German athlete Lutz Long gives the Nazi salute.

Several social media users took the opportunity to call Pelosi a “coward,” with conservative radio host Erick Erickson suggesting that the speaker resign over her “embarrassing” statement.

“This is despicable. We cannot allow the #CCP to walk all over us,” tweeted Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.). “It is unacceptable that we’ve put our athletes in this position.”

“What Pelosi said yesterday to our Olympic athletes about ‘not incurring the anger’ of Communist China is a DISGRACE,” Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) tweeted. “Democrats are OWNED by the CCP, and won’t do a thing to stop them. Absolutely AWFUL!”

Conservative radio host Erick Erickson called Nancy Pelosi a “coward” for her comments.
AFP via Getty Images

“Pelosi can bend the knee to China. But our American athletes have free speech rights and should never be told to surrender them,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also joined in on the criticism, slamming Pelosi for standing by Black Lives Matter protesters who “set fire to cities” in the summer of 2020.

“Why did Nancy Pelosi stand by as BLM protesters set fire to cities but tell American athletes to stop protesting China’s human rights violations?” she posted.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Pelosi’s comments did not come as a surprise.

Olympics
Sen. Marsha Blackburn criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for supporting BLM protests but discouraging American athletes from speaking out against China’s human rights abuses.
EPA

“Speaker Pelosi doesn’t want to upset the Chinese Communist Party. So she’s warning US Olympians to stay silent about China’s atrocities,” tweeted McCarthy. “No surprise this comes right as Democrats are trying to jam through the 3,000-page ‘America Concedes Act’ that helps China but hurts America.”

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro ripped Pelosi’s statement as “unforgivable” and “insane on a moral level.”

“According to Pelosi, it is an active good when extraordinarily privileged and wealthy athletes in the United States kneel for the national anthem, but our athletes should remain silent in China,” he wrote. “Insane on a moral level. Unforgivable in terms of foreign policy.”

The Olympics continue through Feb. 20.

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