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Whitlock: Dave Chappelle, Floyd Mayweather, and Enes Kanter strike mammoth blows in the culture war

Op-ed
Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Monday felt like a tipping point in the social justice culture war raging across Silicon Valley's social media apps.

One of the key purposes of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is the control of celebrity influencers. The apps reinforce the message of the handlers of athletes and other celebrities.

When presidential candidate Joe Biden says, "You ain't black" if you fail to vote for me, it's the job of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to affirm that sentiment. Once the social media apps affirm the belief, multimillionaire celebrities know what positions they should take.

It's why 95 percent of all celebrities pretend to think the exact same things and why 99.9 percent of them say the exact same things. And it's why they get upset and turn verbally vicious when one of their peers breaks ranks. Remember Chelsea Handler, a white Jew, scolding black rapper 50 Cent for questioning Joe Biden's tax policies. Handler went on Jimmy Fallon's TV show to remind 50 Cent that he was black and promised 50 access to her overused vagina.

50 Cent backed down.

Dave Chappelle didn't. On Monday, the iconic comedian released a video reacting to the controversy engulfing his latest Netflix comedy special. Last week, a handful of Netflix employees staged a publicity stunt/walkout because they believe "The Closer" expressed transphobic and homophobic viewpoints. The protesters want Netflix to remove the comedy special from the streaming service. So far, Netflix has refused.

"To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anyone's demands …

"I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I'm the only one who can't go to the office."

Yes, Monday felt very different. It wasn't just Dave Chappelle.

Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather released a social media video supporting NBA star Kyrie Irving. Irving, of course, has been banned from the Brooklyn Nets facility until he submits to taking the COVID vaccine.

"A free mind makes its own choices, an enslaved mind follows the crowd," Mayweather said. "Stand for something or fall for anything. … It's crazy how people hate you for being a leader. I hope your actions encourage many others to stand up and say 'enough is enough.' Respect to you, Kyrie, and power to the people."

Mayweather just demonstrated more courage than the overwhelming majority of Irving's NBA peers. It's my belief that most professional athletes would prefer to not take the vaccine. They're young. They're in peak physical condition. COVID poses virtually no threat to them. They agree with Kyrie's stance. But they're afraid to say so. They're afraid to publicly support a peer who is taking a courageous stand.

They don't want to be on the wrong side of a Twitter or Facebook algorithm. Thank God, Mayweather delights in being the bad guy. Thank God, Mayweather values being able to say whatever he believes.

So does Enes Kanter. Kanter is a longtime NBA player from Turkey. On Monday, Kanter released a video torching Nike's hypocrisy on China's human rights abuses. Kanter specifically called out Nike founder Phil Knight and the shoe company's most prominent pitchmen, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

"When it comes to China, Nike remains silent," Kanter said. "You do not address police brutality in China. You do not speak about discrimination in the LGBTQ community. You do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China. You are scared to speak up."

Yes, they are. But more than that, they are frauds. They blast America because social media algorithms reward criticism of the country that made them rich and famous. They blast America because the Chinese Communist Party rewards criticism of the country that made LeBron, Jordan, and Colin Kaepernick rich and famous.

Monday felt different. It feels like more and more celebrities are breaking free of the chains that control their thoughts and actions. As more break free, it's much easier to identify the true sellouts, the celebrities beholden to China and Silicon Valley.
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