Jamie Dimon, the legendary boss of JP Morgan, is the latest to experience what is becoming a familiar ritual for high-profile American leaders: pathetically begging the oligarchs of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for forgiveness.
Dimon's apology was humiliating. Dimon is the long-serving CEO of America's most profitable financial firm. He may have advised kings and presidents, but he was forced to publicly extend an empty apology for a meaningless joke.
His public humiliation had three acts.
Never mind that Dimon is an American, leads an American company, and claims loyalty to America.
According to Beijing, he crossed an invisible line at a recent event in Boston, USA. The line was the CCP's well-documented surveillance proclivities and long-term prospects.
"I was just in Hong Kong and I made a joke that the Communist Party is celebrating its hundredth year. So is JPMorgan. I’d make you a bet we last longer. I can’t say that in China. They probably are listening anyway."
Dimon stated the obvious. The Chinese Communist Party is listening, and JP Morgan may well outlive many national governments.
Jamie would have to pay.
The cold breeze from Beijing came fast and furious.
Within a day, Dimon did what no self-respecting man should ever do: he attempted to explain the equivalent of a bad dad joke.
His use of "regret" is the giveaway: "I regret and should not have made that comment. I was trying to emphasize the strength and longevity of our company."
Dimon expressing regret for a wholly non-regrettable moment was not enough, though.
The CCP demanded more flesh from this particular American tycoon. Like the target of a cruel bully, Dimon had to make amends by humiliating himself — very publicly — before pledging allegiance to a foreign nation's "leadership."
“I regret my recent comment because it’s never right to joke about or denigrate any group of people, whether it’s a country, its leadership, or any part of a society and culture.”
Dimon's public humiliation was not unique. For too many American leaders, theoretical access — in some future alternative reality — to CCP's dystopian universe causes self-inflicted trauma. It hurts to see people voluntarily murder their self-respect and dignity.
The world of sports has made itself a prime target.
The NBA has conducted itself with a rarely displayed level of cowardice on issues involving China. As I wrote two years ago:
Chinese basketball league canceled "exchanges" with the Rockets. The internet giant Tencent announced it would no longer broadcast Rockets games. Give me a break. Many people stand on principle and protect their people. Just not America's National Basketball Association.
The NBA's demise has been long and hard, but it started with one unsanctioned tweet. The following saga brought out all the seedy characters, shattered dreams, and unmasked cowards.
James Harden, an all-star, apologizes, loves, and appreciates the bully.
"We apologize. You know, we love China. We love everything there about them, and we appreciate the support that they give us individually and as [an] organization."
Lebron James, an all-time great, extends the humiliation to the entire league.
"Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you're not thinking about others, and you're only thinking about yourself. I don't want to get in a word sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually."
The NBA — a protected U.S. monopoly — institutionalizes the self-appointed shame.
"We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.
Across time and place, so-called leaders continue to sacrifice their dignity.
The NBA is hardly alone in its cowardness. Wherever money and power concentrate, so-called leaders toe CCP's brutally enforced line.
A Hollywood megastar's whiny, agonizing plead for forgiveness.
His sin? Using the term "country" to describe the independent nation of Taiwan.
“I must say right now, it’s very, very, very, very, very, very important. I love and respect China and Chinese people. I’m very, very sorry for my mistake.”
Marvel apologizes its way to a plot change.
The producers of animated superheroes are anti-heroes in real life.
He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bulls—t and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.’”
Mercedes Benz retracts a holy man's words.
After Instagram quoting like a teenage girl — "Look at the situations from all angles, and you will become more open." — M.B. had to assume the position.
When it comes to "culture" and "values," the ride is both painful and slow.
"We will promptly take steps to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values, our international staff included, to help standardize our actions to ensure this sort of issue doesn’t happen again."
Top Gun only showed courage against the Russians.
Is this what the Broken Leader meant when he said Make America Great Again?
Women lead the way.
As with most important things, women's bravery stands in stark contrast to most men's cowardice.
In the latest example, the WTA responds bravely and resolutely to a matter of grave concern: CCP disappearing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai for speaking out against sexual violence.