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Port: The left’s commitment to wokeness ends when it’s time to do business with communists

Promoting liberal, democratic societies around the world has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy pretty much since our founding.

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Rob Port
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MINOT, N.D. — Not so long ago we here in North Dakota had a debate about refugee resettlement.

Some of our elected leaders, including Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn and former West Fargo state lawmaker Chris Olson, wanted to collect more data on the social and fiscal impacts of refugee resettlement . They pushed for the state and its political subdivisions, to have some say in the pace of resettlement, which is a cause President Donald Trump has now taken up at the national level .

North Dakota, after all, has been among the nation's leaders in taking in refugees (measured per capita). These leaders wanted to understand more about what that means for our schools and social service agencies.

For their troubles, both men were pilloried. They were called ignorant, backward bigots. Troglodytes too ignorant to take an enlightened view of refugee resettlement.

They weren't "woke," as the kids say these days.


I was thinking about that unfortunate chapter in state politics as I've watched the self-appointed ambassadors of "wokeness" on the left completely ignore what's going on in China.

The NBA debacle is a national embarrassment. Lightly informed loudmouths like Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron James have never hesitated to use the platform of celebrity to lecture the rest of us about their political hobby horses like gun control.

Which, while obnoxious at times, is fine. It's a free country. They can say what they want.

But then a team executive for the Houston Rockets tweeted support for pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters, a group of people who are fighting against brutal suppression from the Chinese state.

Suddenly people like James and Kerr start talking like they think speech maybe ought not to be as free as it is.

These twits believe tweeting in favor of democracy is somehow a problem mostly because it might impact their bank accounts.

China represents an enormous and very lucrative market for the NBA, and while people like James and Kerr like to think of themselves as woke, that wokeness ends where their paychecks begin.

It's not just pontificating celebrities who are guilty of this hypocrisy. Recently former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota wrote an in-depth column critical of the Trump administration's trade war with China.


Notable in its absence was any mention of the Hong Kong protesters, or China's concentration camps , or that communist regime's many affronts to civil rights and basic human decency.

Heitkamp's oversight, calculated as it was to serve her political purposes, is not uncommon nor unique to the left.

I attended a policy summit put on by the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce recently.

They had a panel discussing China and trade.

They didn't talk about China's human rights violations either.

Promoting liberal, democratic societies around the world has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy pretty much since our founding.

We can have a debate about the best way to accomplish that goal.

We certainly shouldn't be dissuaded from supporting freedom and liberty for the sake of winning elections or doing business with the Chinese communists.


Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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